First they came for the Native Americans, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not Native.
Then they came for the African Americans, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not Black.
They came for the Sick, the Poor and the Elderly, and I did not speak out—
Because I was Healthy, Middle Class and still Young.
They came for the Women, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Woman.
They came for my LGBTQ family members and friends, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not Queer.
They came for Muslims, but as a Christian, I did not speak out.
They came for the Immigrants, and I did not speak out—
Because, while I was an Immigrant, I Did Not Identify as such.
Then they came for the long suffering Refugees. But I did not speak out—
because I was not a REFUGEE.
Finally, they came for me. And there was no one left to speak for me.
The above is my play on the enigmatic words of Martin Niemöller (1892–1984).
Niemöller was a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.
Below, one iteration of his famous quote (which he stated and restated in variation during his life):
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, 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—and there was no one left to speak for me.
To all of you who say, "Well, wait and see!"
You are next.
To the people who say, "But, it doesn't effect you (me, them)."
You are next.
To the people with the money, status and privilege to ignore what is happening -
May you live long enough to be NEXT.
INSERT IMAGE HERE*
*Instead of using images in this post, as I am wont to do, please allow your mind to view the images of the above atrocities which it conjures while you read. If they appear in a flash, let them linger. If you're unmoved, stop for a moment and imagine the sound. The screams. The sobs. The ear piercing shrieks and low primal moans of the suffering. The soft last words and urgent declaration of prayer from the dying. This is the suffering of millions of people who need and deserve the freedoms and protections enjoyed by the select and privileged few, who have put Capital above human life and dignity.
To the complicit, silent, unbothered and (yes, we see you) the amused and entertained,
History will remember your silence and your cruelty. It will lament your inability to think critically, to know and remember the past and to own up to your wrongs.
Your ignorance is your shame.
Your fear, while palpable, does not entitle you to your many misdeeds.
Wishing you a long (enough) life that you, too, may see them come for you.