Quotations about   complicity

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You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity ….

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
The Conduct of Life, ch. 1 “Fate” (1860)
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Added on 5-May-20 | Last updated 5-May-20
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BERNARD: But surely the citizens of a democracy have a right to know.
SIR HUMPHREY: No. They have a right to be ignorant. Knowledge only means complicity in guilt; ignorance has a certain dignity.

Jonathan Lynn (b. 1943) English actor, comedy writer, director
Yes Minister, S1E1 “Open Government” (25 Feb 1980) [with Anthony Jay]
Added on 25-Feb-20 | Last updated 25-Feb-20
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Silence in the face of evil is itself evil; God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) German Lutheran pastor, theologian, martyr
(Spurious)

Frequently attributed to Bonhoeffer, but not found in his works. The origins of its attribution are discussed here, and the phrasing seems to more or less originate with Robert K. Hudnut, A Sensitive Man and the Christ (1971).
Added on 8-Jan-20 | Last updated 8-Jan-20
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Historians have a word for Germans who joined the Nazi party, not because they hated Jews, but out of a hope for restored patriotism, or a sense of economic anxiety, or a hope to preserve their religious values, or dislike of their opponents, or raw political opportunism, or convenience, or ignorance, or greed.

That word is “Nazi.” Nobody cares about their motives any more.

They joined what they joined. They lent their support and their moral approval. And, in so doing, they bound themselves to everything that came after. Who cares any more what particular knot they used in the binding?

Andrew R. Moxon (contemp.) American writer, critic [a.k.a. Julius Goat]
Blogspot (16 Jan 2017)
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Frequently mis-attributed to Twitter, where Moxxon also posts under his @JuliusGoat handle. The original Julius Goat Blogspot site is no longer online.
Added on 14-Nov-18 | Last updated 14-Nov-18
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The fact that the stupid person is often stubborn must not blind us to the fact that he is not independent. In conversation with him, one virtually feels that one is dealing not at all with him as a person, but with slogans, catchwords, and the like that have taken possession of him. He is under a spell, blinded, misused, and abused in his very being. Having thus become a mindless tool, the stupid person will also be capable of any evil and at the same time incapable of seeing that it is evil. This is where the danger of diabolical misuse lurks, for it is this that can once and for all destroy human beings.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) German Lutheran pastor, theologian, martyr
“On Stupidity” (1942)
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Added on 22-Mar-17 | Last updated 22-Mar-17
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He who holds the ladder is as guilty as the thief.

Other Authors and Sources
German proverb
Added on 3-Mar-17 | Last updated 3-Mar-17
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My doctrine is this, that if we see cruelty or wrong that we have the power to stop, and do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt.

Anna Sewell (1820-1878) English novelist
Black Beauty, Part 3, ch. 33 “Dolly and a Real Gentleman” (1877)
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Added on 16-Nov-15 | Last updated 31-Jan-20
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Who, when he may, forbids not sin, commands it.

Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC-AD 65) Roman statesman, philosopher, playwright [Lucius Annaeus Seneca]
Troades, l. 290 [tr. Miller (1917)]
Added on 20-Jun-14 | Last updated 20-Jun-14
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To ignore evil is to become an accomplice to it.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Where Do We Go from Here?, 3.2 (1967)
Added on 17-Mar-10 | Last updated 7-Dec-15
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No one man can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices.

Edward R. Murrow (1908-1965) American journalist
See It Now (7 Mar 1954)
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Comment to the production team before the episode on Senator Joseph R McCarthy’s Communist witch hunt.
Added on 2-Apr-08 | Last updated 6-Jan-20
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A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Sermon, Selma, Alabama (8 Mar 1965)

Possibly the source of the uncited attributions (or variants) "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter" and "The day we see the truth and cease to speak is the day we begin to die."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 7-Dec-15
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