First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out-
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionsists, and I did not speak out-
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me- there was no one left to speak for me
Few would need to Google the passage to understand its meaning or its origin. But just in case, and to save you the time, it was written by a Nazi concentration camp survivor who initially supported Adolf Hitler’s ascent to power. Niemoller realized his mistake when Hitler placed nationalism and the state above all else, including faith. He was arrested for forming a group of clergyman who opposed the new leader and spent eight years in two different camps. Niemoller chose to rise and resist. And it was too late.
On January 21, 2017 millions of the world’s people chose to rise and resist. Millions felt these words whether they knew them or not and millions took to the streets in peace. America has a new president who has chosen his own message and delivery through a controlled press, selected journalists, hired audience, shut down phone lines and contact with the White House and now ‘alternative facts’. We are at the edge of what Niemoller saw in 1937. Maybe it seems extreme to compare the current mental, emotional, political, and economic state of the US to a 1937 Germany. After all, we are not suffering massive inflation and unemployment rates over 20 percent. Or maybe in terms of the propaganda
August Landmesser refused to do the “Sieg Heil” salute during a Nazi rally at the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg on June 13, 1936.
machine, we are in the same place as a German nation on January 30, 1933, and have been for the last ten years. Maybe if there were millions who marched, millions who were not drawn in by the awe of nationalism, promises of a world power revived, blind obedience to a ruling party who ministered by threats which later grew to become violence and murder, millions would have lived. What if they had chose to rise and resist instead?
History is written with the bones of passive fear, intimidation and in the end attempts of wholesale genocide. The Turks, Nazis, Russians, Khmers Rouge. Central America, Rwanda, Bosnia, Iraq, Middle East, African Continent. We here in the US should not be so quick to presume innocence from any acts of genocide, bear in mind our own march across the continent and the native peoples who stood in the way of westward expansion. But what if millions had risen and resisted rather than stood by consoling themselves behind closed doors because they were not a Socialist, a Trade Unionist or a Jew?
Members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their supporters confront bulldozers working on the Dakota Access Pipeline near Cannon Ball, N.D., on September 3. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.
Millions should be listening to the messages of nationalism, paying attention to the divide and conquer tactics of a new administration and prepare to rise and resist. Millions should be dispelling the lies, the alternate facts and pushing back against the growing deceptions. Millions should continue on with what was started last Saturday and never let up again, because we shouldn’t ever be in this place again. Some two days since the Women’s March, Trump is set to give the green light to Dakota Access and the Keystone pipeline. Camps of resistance stand in the way. Will millions form a human shield? Millions should…but will they?
A more timely thought: ‘When they kick at your front door, How you gonna come?’ (The Clash) Or will you stand alone at your door because you were not a Socialist, or a Trade Unionist, or Jew?
‘Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of.’