Monuments. Respect. Having respect for monuments should go hand-in-hand, yet it seems that many display a lack of respect for monuments, perhaps it is more because they do not know what a monument is and what it is for. A monument is a commemorative structure explicitly created to remember a person, an event or a historic period in time. Lest we forget its importance, a structure is erected to symbolize its significance to a social group or to mark a point in time. The mere fact that there stands a structure should command our automatic respect in honor of whatever it is that occurred.
Therefore when a monument is defaced by vandalism or dishonored by inappropriate behavior we are doing a disservice to the memory of the person, place and time of our shared and collective history.
Lands are littered with monuments in countries around the world, some are known just to the locals while others might have a national or even international recognition. Depending on the customs in which the object is laid it is usually fairly easy to understand the structure’s importance and why it is standing.
For example in the video above, I could understand why the author, Shahak Shapira, was so upset to see these people in and around the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin candidly taking pictures as they were. It’s a unique location with historical significance, of course you’d want to have your picture taken at the site. I completely understand. You see, back in the day when I used to model I was always on the lookout for unique locations and interesting sites to suggest to photographers for a shoot. There are certain places, however, where I will definitely not pose; places of worship (churches), parliament buildings and grave yards and I’ve been asked plenty of times before.
But for these individuals, it’s not that they are ignorant in the sense that they do know about the Holocaust and it’s historical significance, they haven’t taken the time or they’ve forgotten the crude reality for Jews during Second World War. For if they did their behavior would be strikingly different. The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. The Nazis, who came to power in Germany in January 1933, believed that Germans were “racially superior” and that the Jews, deemed “inferior,” were an alien threat to the so-called German racial community.
These piles of lifeless dead bodies you see in the background are a result of a series of human experiments gone wrong or perhaps they didn’t care about what happened to the body as long as they got their data from their testings. In fact a number of startling incidents during the 20th century have raised public awareness of this new reality and of the growing new tension between the interests of medical research and the new-found autonomy of research subjects. Many of these startling incidents happened during the Second World War where the most shocking incidents of research abuse was the revelation of the research being done on unwilling prisoners in the Nazi concentration camps. The researchers ‘racial dimension’ as well added to public outrage.
This began the modern concern for the welfare of the subjects of medical research. So important was the experience that the template for modern codes of practices for ethical research was developed from the courts judgment in the case against the Nazi physicians who carried out the experiments on prisoners in concentration camps. The most shocking of these incidents of research abuse was the revelation of the research being done on unwilling prisoners in the Nazi concentration camps in the Second World War.
The researchers racial dimensions added to public outrage as well. In fact, it was sort of watershed or beginning in the modern concern for the welfare of the subjects of medical research. So important was the experience that the template for modern codes of practice for ethical research was developed from the court’s judgment in the case against the Nazi physicians who carried out the experiments on prisoners in concentration camps. The who world was shocked by the revelation that came before the court at Nuremberg.
It is clear to anyone reviewing the cases and looking at the era of Nazi Germany that it had become a fertile ground for the medical and moral depravity that was exposed at the trial of the doctors. Aside from research abuse “racial hygiene” was part of the Nazi policy as was euthanasia. Over the years the “aliens” to the community were more and more openly sterilized or eliminated. In this early period of Hitler’s hegemony, eugenics and euthanasia were gradually introduced as national policy.
Eugenics and Sterilization
The father of eugenics was Sir Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin and a talented man of late 19th century according to a biography at the St. Andrews website describes him as:
“An explorer and anthropologist…known for his pioneering studies of human intelligence. He devoted the latter part of his life to eugenics i.e. improving the physical and mental makeup of the human species by selected parenthood. “[Medical Ethics]
Dr. Thompson a geneticist who was a member of the eugenics board also said that sterilization was done primarily for social not genetic reasons and; dealing with the process for determining who fit within the categories for sterilization the court found that decisions were made “on the flimsiest of evidence” without any real investigation.
Unfortunately, the science which presumed that the mental deficiency suffered by some individuals were always genetic was wrong. It is not always inherited. So the first problem was that irreversible surgery was being performed without an accurate understanding of the causes of mental retardation. As a result those of normal intelligence risked being caught by legislation. Secondly, and more fundamentally, cases like Re Evgee show that it is not so obvious that sterilizing someone who has mental deficiency is appropriate even when it is perceived to be in the individual’s best interest.
Sterilization laws were passed in Germany as early as 1933. Special courts composed of 2 doctors and a lawyer were established. These courts adjudicated on compulsory sterilization of anyone suffering from genetically determined illness or mental disease. Doctors, in some cases, were fined for failure to report to the government any people with genetic defects.
Apart from eugenic and sterilization, human experimentation were conducted in the concentration camps for which 23 defendants, most who were doctors of high professional standings of the Third Reich, were charged with conspiracy, using prisoners for human experimentation; who were generally prisoners, political prisoners, Gypsies, Catholics and Jews of many nationalities. They were also charged with murder, torture and other atrocities committed in the name of medical research. The experiments performed in the camps and described in the trials of Nuremberg can be divided into two groups: Military purposes to improve the lot of German soldiers and those designed for human destruction, basically how to kill large number of people efficiently. The second group they called “thanatology” meaning the morbid science of producing death whose purpose were to be used for ethnic cleansing.
“The first group of experiments, those for the benefit of the military, included high altitude; low pressure; freezing; mustard gas; bone, nerve and muscle regeneration; sea-water experiments; and injecting research subjects with infectious agents, such as malaria and gangrene.”
“The second group, those for ethnic purification, included various means of sterilization; the use of various poisons; and the study of prepared specimens from subjects that were sacrificed for racial characteristics – to prove researchers’ racial theories.”
In most of the experiments done in the camps, the subjects either died as a result, or they were maimed and finally sacrificed because autopsies were performed, and the findings were part of the results of the experiment.”
All these doctors were bound by the Hippocratic oath and by the German ethical codes where required consent from research subjects. There are a variety of reasons for the doctors not to follow their moral and legal directives but the one main reason was because Germany was in a “state of war with impugned racial policies and the country was holding condemned prisoners. There was a complete failure of the rule of law and the loss of independence of German judges in those years of National Socialism. The essence of the rule of law is that laws duly promulgated bind every citizen – and, of course, government officials and doctors as well. For this to be effective, an independent judiciary is required, that is, a judiciary independent of the government, with power to enforce the law equally, regardless of private or government pressures. This system – the rule of law – enforced by an independent judiciary had clearly failed under the Nazis. This, itself, allowed, or gave license to the use of prisoners as the conscripted subjects of the medical experiments, free from civil or criminal redress.
The case against the Doctors made people, who would never have thought of the matter before aware of the possibilities for abuse in human research. In the course of the judgment, the court considered the question of whether and under what circumstances medical experimentation with human subjects is permissible. The reply was given in a series came to be known as the Nuremberg Code.
The Nuremberg Code (German: Nürnberger Kodex) is a set of research ethics principles for human experimentation set as a result of the subsequent Nuremberg trials at the end of the Second World War. The Nuremberg Code was introduced in August 1947, after the Nuremberg trials. In these trials, Nazi doctors were convicted of the crimes committed during human experiments on concentration camp prisoners. It attempted to give clear rules about what was legal and what was not when conducting human experiments.
The Nuremberg Code has since been hailed as a landmark document in medical and research ethics. Close examination of this code reveals that it was based on the Guidelines for Human Experimentation of 1931. As we will see, reliance on animal-based research in conducting human experimentation is antithetical to a respect for human rights. Neither the Nuremberg Code nor the Declaration of Helsinki is legally binding or legally enforceable in its own right. The Nuremberg Code consists of ten points of which the first of these deals with the post pivotal issue in human research: consent. “the voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential.” The reader will notice that the requirements of proper informed consent are present, and that they are clear. The rule is uncompromising – there must be CONSENT.
In 1979, a government commission, the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Bio medical and Behavioral Research, issued the Belmont Report. The purpose of this was to identify the “basic ethical principles” that should underlie the conduct of human research. Three basic principles were set out in the Belmont Report to provide an analytical framework that will guide the resolution of ethical problems that serve as justification for “ethical prescriptions and evaluations of human actions”
(1) Respect for persons – This meant that people should be treated as autonomous agents and that persons with diminished autonomy are entitled to protection. (2) Beneficence – Persons are treated in an ethical manner, not only by respecting their decisions and protecting them from harm [first principle] but also by making efforts to secure their well-being.” Basically, (a) do not harm; and (b) maximize possible benefits and minimize possible harms. (3) Justice – the question of fairness in distribution is of concern is at issue.
In 1935 laws were passed that prevented marriage or intercourse between Jews and non-Jews. Jews were also excluded from citizenship at this time as a means towards racial purity. Unfortunately, the movement to active euthanasia was by no means confined to Germany, and it would be a mistake to think this. This official policy of euthanasia then slipped easily into what became the final solution for Jews, Gypsies and others who were considered racially undesirable. However, people were not only persecuted because of their ethnicity, they were also persecuted because of their religion.
Purple Triangles – Jehovah’s-Witnesses/Nazi
Even in the sparse paragraphs above one can understand the enormous sacrifices and persecution endured by the Jews. Playing around and on these monuments doesn’t show any due respect for the atrocities endured by the Jews and one that should not be taken so lightly. I have a maintain a particular sensitivity for anything and everything about the Holocaust now only was it a terrible time history but it also involved some of my people, my religious brothers and, for I was brought in a household of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Growing up learning about the Holocaust as part of our religious history, I’ve always felt a little closer to my Jewish friends because of our shared history.
The purple triangle was a concentration camp badge used by the Nazis to identify Bibelforscher (or “Bible Student”) in Nazi Germany. Over 99% of these were Jehovah’s Witnesses, but a small number of Adventists, Baptists, Bible Student splinter groups, and pacifists were also included. Nazism opposed unorthodox-Christian religious minorities (along with Jews), but made the Bible Students the object of particularly intense persecution, including such extensive incarceration that a distinct badge was assigned to them.
Jehovah’s Witnesses came into conflict with the Nazi regime because they refused to salute Adolf Hitler with the traditional “Heil Hitler” salute, believing that it conflicted with their worship of God. Because refusing to salute Hitler was considered a crime, they were arrested, and their children attending school were expelled, detained and separated from their families. When Germany made military enlistment mandatory, they were persecuted because they refused to bear arms. Being politically neutral, they also refused to vote in the elections.
Based on Nuremberg Laws, those who were also classified as ethnic Jews wore a badge comprising a purple triangle superimposed on a yellow triangle. The ideology of the Nazi state represented a complete contradiction of their morality and everyday practices. Even rendering homage to Hitler with the greeting “Heil Hitler!” was an affront to their faith. Jehovah’s Witnesses refused to participate in military training or serve in the army. This refusal was punishable by imprisonment, or even death. They also refused categorically to perform any work that, as they saw it, contributed directly to the war effort—and, as is known, many German factories were mobilized for armaments production. As a result, many Witnesses, including women, were arrested and sent to concentration camps.
There were Jehovah’s Witnesses among the first transports of Polish civilians from the lands annexed by the German Reich. Later, others arrived from different regions, such as Greater Poland and the General Government. The fragmentary extant records of their stay in Auschwitz include camp photographs bearing both the “IBV” symbol and the letter “P,” which designated Poles. The numbers assigned to prisoners indicate that there were Witnesses among the Auschwitz prisoners as early as the first months when the camp was in operation. Once the women’s camp opened, female Witnesses were imprisoned in Auschwitz. The first group arrived from Ravensbrück, followed by transports from the prisons in Mysłowice, Łódź, and Poznań.
Your Body is NOT a Crime – Modeling
So you want to become a model – well good for you! First, stop disrespecting monuments of historical significance, be mindful and give honor to the monuments you might find posing with in your work. If you can do that then you’ll soon find that modeling is fun, you get to see new faces and visit new places. Yet, as with any industry or trade, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it and educating yourself is key to ensure your safety and hopefully your success. Yet as you go about your activities, may I remind you that it is imperative that you keep safety in mind. I’m sure that you’ve had your fair share of naysayers, fear-mongering about the dangers and pitfalls of the modeling industry and the same goes if you are an aspiring actor, singer, dancer – well basically anyone in the entertainment industry.
This doesn’t mean to stop what you are doing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with following your passion. It just means you need to go about it in a smart way. And it’s not to say that these ‘naysayers’ are wrong because yes there are a few occupational hazard, as with any trade, that leaves you susceptible and vulnerable for those who are in the business of wrong doing.
One of the pitfalls of the modeling industry recently came to light – the horrible business of human trafficking. Keeping it short, human trafficking is one of the most heinous crimes imaginable today. It is the act of luring vulnerable individuals and enslaving them into prostitution, forced labor, or for organ removal. They do this by means of threats, use of force and other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or offering payment and other benefits to those who are vulnerable and once given consent the perpetrator has complete control over the other person. These evil doers are in the business of recruiting, transporting, harboring and/or receipt of said persons. They do this simply for the purpose of exploitation and for monetary gain.
It was during the 2015 federal elections when Bill C51 was introduced creating much controversy among the public, media, civil liberty groups lawyers and the like. I began experiencing some difficulty with my technology every since became a victim of a phishing scam and noticed all sorts of annoyance occurring with my social media accounts, emails and the like. Bill C51 became of interest as began informing myself about digital surveillance, hacking and cyber-terrorism. It was during that time I received an email from the Conservative Party’s election campaign office. It was a message outlining the success of one of it’s MP Joy Smith and congratulating her anti-human trafficking advocacy work. I made an immediate reference from Bill C51 to human trafficking as I saw the same methods for which our security agencies would monitor and share information of persons of interest, trafficker do the same thing with those whom they trafficked. Ms Smith the email read was successful in passing legislation that received Royal Assent. Considering what was going on with Bill C51, led me to research the subject; something about human trafficking struck as vaguely familiar perhaps because of my previous employment at Immigration and Refugee Board combined with my experience as a model traveling from city to city for work, I knew our industry is a prime target for traffickers.
Even Katie Ford, former CEO of Ford Models, recognized this and gave up her 25 year career in 2008 to become a roving ambassador for the cause after she realized the real dangers of human trafficking and how these perpetrators can easily lure aspiring models into a life of slavery. Ms. Ford has worked with the United Nations, The State Department, businesses and NGO’s to raise awareness about human trafficking and steps business can do to become part of the solution.
“As CEO of Ford Models, I brought models from over 50 countries to the United States. Because most were foreign and young, they were potentially vulnerable. Ford Models had a history of protecting young women and men by providing housing, shelter, food, and medical care if needed. The work I do to fight human trafficking and forced labor is informed by my previous work.” Katie Ford, (Freedom For All.org)
Ford travels abroad to conferences on slavery and uses her clout to persuade the heads of New York’s major fashion houses about the dangers of trafficking for which they should be concerned. For example, in 2012 at Ford Models’ annual Supermodel of the World contest, she had models record warnings about human trafficking in eight languages, including Portuguese and Tagalog. Dr. Aleya Hammad, of End Human Trafficking Now, notes that Ford was instrumental in setting up a hot-line in Geneva for victims of human trafficking.
Basically there are three types of trafficking; sex, labor and organs. Organ trafficking, the most clandestine of the three which captured my attention. Due to the global organ shortage, unethical practices like organ trafficking and transplant tourism have progressively emerged and spread worldwide, rapidly becoming a highly profitable business for transnational organized criminal groups. These practices represent a serious threat to public health and human security, egregious violations of fundamental human rights and a bold infringement of universal principles of medical ethics, and they thus call for a robust response from the international community at large.
This is where the ethical codes such as the Nuremberg Code, Helsinki and Belmont come into play because there’s a real demand for human organs (heart, lung, pancreas, kidney, etc.) and tissues for transplantation. “Over 2, 600 people are waiting for a heart transplant nationwide” [organs and tissues for transplant, web] “Each year over 750,000 lives are enriched through tissue donation.” Patients sign an organ donor card permitting the hospital to harvest their organs once they pass yet there are a vast number of organs are bought and sold on the black market. Because of a lack of supply and the growing demand traffickers are able to exploit the situation to fill the gap by supplying organs from the poor who do so in order to save their family, selling their organs for a little amount, then the traffickers re-sell these organs to doctors and hospitals in rich countries where the rich people can afford a high quality surgery service.
Due to the global organ shortage, unethical practices like organ trafficking and transplant tourism have progressively emerged and spread worldwide, rapidly becoming a highly profitable business for transnational organized criminal groups. These practices represent a serious threat to public health and human security, egregious violations of fundamental human rights and a bold infringement of universal principles of medical ethics, and they thus call for a robust response from the international community at large. Being a complex and multifamily phenomenon of global proportions, the major challenge in combating organ trafficking is to criminalize “all” unethical conducts as transplant-related crimes at both the domestic and international level. Being a complex and multifaceted phenomenon of global proportions, the major challenge in combating organ trafficking is to criminalize “all” unethical conducts as transplant-related crimes at both the domestic and international level.
Googlization, Big Data, Human Trafficking
Since the 1990s social media has an important role and has catapulted the trafficking trade into a new dimension with Facebook pages, and web articles about the trade of kidneys are visible and active as well as recruiting for sex trade and forced labour. Not only do they take advantage of social media platforms for personal use there are professional portals for easy access. For example: The trend these days for models is to surpass your typical modeling agency to work as an independent, that way you won’t be mired in agency contract clauses that limits the amount and type of work that you do as a model. There are many sites that connect aspiring models to photographers [and agents], Model Mayhem being the most popular which probably has over 800,000 active users of its site.
It is difficult to nearly impossible to monitor the activities of each user yet thankfully Model Mayhem has put some safety precautions in place to help forge modeling careers in a safe manner. For example, in order to become an active member a newcomer must provide at least three professional photos of their work, Model Mayhem educates users by providing safety tips when organizing a shoot, the forums are a great place to discuss concerns if a model is are unsure whether or not to work with a photographer, and if a model has had a disturbing experience the person is reported to a Moderator so they can investigate. However, portal sites like Model Mayhem can only provide the tools, it is up to individual on how to use them safely.
Apart from social media platforms, traffickers around the world are also quietly and easily promoting their business through the internet, mostly through use of the dark web, making their network of donors and receivers in right front of the authorities who at times feel powerless to prevent these abuses due to the clandestine nature of the business. And this is where Google comes in.
Google is proving a relationship between human trafficking and big data. Director of Google Giving, Jacquelline Fuller, also focused on the role of technology as agent:
“Here’s the thing about bringing technology to this problem. The opposition already is using technology. The traffickers are very savvy about how they’re using communications, how they’re moving porously across borders, and our response needs to ram up to that.”
“In simple terms, Google and partners aim to fight networks with networks recognizing an equivalency of communication and organizational methods on both sides of the present conflict. Both Cohen’s and Fuller’s formulation of oppositional network structures recalls the concept of “net-war” which aims to describe how global conflicts in the information age involve “numerous dispersed small groups using the latest communications technologies” and acting “conjointly across great distances” to organize and strategize coordinated efforts, be they networks of terrorists, criminals or “radical activists”. Alexander Galloway and Eugene Thacker call this the New network-network symmetry” of contemporary political dynamic.” [Googlization of Human Trafficking, Robert Payne]
Siva Vaidhyanathan has made clear in his book The Googlization of Everything that Google has achieved its position of market dominance not through a simple development of superior web services but through a brilliant combinations of software engineering, horizontal integration across a wide range of digital platforms, and a version of soft power that foster user’s eager complicity with their own data being used to improve product efficiency.
Google makes itself indispensable to web searches by depending on its users’ search behavior to refine the search algorithm. The better the search product, the more users it attracts; the more users it attracts, the better the search product. Within this formula, the foibles and faults of user activity are endless transformable into – control, combining the intimately human level of user input and experience and the starkly mechanical level of digital coding and analytic. In simple terms, as Vaidhyanathan maintains, Google users are not its customers but its product.
While speakers at the GHTHN launch placed respectful emphasis on the narratives and lived experiences of individuals, including survivors of trafficking, and uncomfortable tension nonetheless exists between this kind of visibility and the “data-driven approach” to visualizing and interrupting illicit networks proposed by Google. In fact for Google’s Jared Cohen to describe their intention “to troubleshoot one of the world’s greatest problems” suggests something between naivety and outright arrogance. And maybe Google’s money and network infrastructure and data analytic can help.
But it’s questionable if “Google’s money and network infrastructure can be separated from its outsourcing of labour to users in ways that don’t simply amount to a reciprocal exchange of value. Rather, it is a maneuver which subordinates values of all kinds to the new sovereignty of data analytic, a field characterized by and ethos of competitive entrepreneurial-ism and reductive instrumentalisation of affect. So [the] concern is that a “data-driven approach” to human trafficking will deepen the capture in which so many informal migrants already find themselves: discursively constructed as necessary victims but now doubly bound as potential agents of a neo-liberal global agenda – flexible, mobile and data-rich.’” [Googlization of Human Trafficking, Robert Payne]
So there you have it. This article is written in support of the author Shahak Shapira who took offense to the individuals who were careless in their picture taking at Holocaust Memorial in Berlin. I hope those who have read this article learned a few things in appreciation of our shared and recent history and provides a context for sober second thought when observing monument that honor an individual, place or period of time. These monuments do not always commemorate positive points in time where humanity was acting at its best but perhaps its that’s the pointing having them erected to encourage us to remember our humanity less these event do not repeat themselves in the present or not so distant future.
Of course with the advent of fake news it’s hard to tell what’s authentic in
terms of news sources and mode of content delivery especially over the internet. But that doesn’t negate the fact, well at least in this scenario, that the Holocaust did happen, Jehovah’s-Witnesses were very much a part of the events that transpired, human experimentation is under strict ethical guidelines based on consent and lessons learned from these devastating events and that we shouldn’t be ignorant and careless [i.e. using horrific events as a source of fake news making a mockery of viewers, their opinions expressed and the historic event itself] when commemorating these monuments [or making fake news items out of them]. Under this particular instance, I’ve identified with both and the Shahak Shapira and the individuals taking pictures by sharing my experiences while at the same time alerting viewer of potential dangers currently happening right under our noses.
So let this be a lesson to you!!!
PS: Click on the link: The Nuremberg Codes and The Belmont Report for your review. These are a set of ethical guidelines when conducting medical, psychological and social experiments that must be adhered to which ties the Nuremberg codes directly to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Criminal Code – Human Experimentation (Tort) if experiments are done incorrectly.
Transplant Ethics and the International Crime of Organ Trafficking, International Criminal Law Review, Stefania Negri, Associate Professor of International Law, Director, Observatory on Human Rights: Bioethics, Health, Environment, School of Law, University of Slaerno (Italy)
Medical Ethics: The State of the Law, C. Adele Kent, LexisNexis Butterworth, 2005 (p312)
The Law of Human Experimentation, David T. Marshall, Butterworths, 2000
The “Googlizaton” of Human Trafficking, Robert Payne, academia.edu, 2017