"First they came..." is a poem attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892-1984) about the quiescence of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group.The original text was written in German:
Als die Nazis die Kommunisten holten,In English, this text reads:
habe ich geschwiegen;
ich war ja kein Kommunist.
Als sie die Sozialdemokraten einsperrten,
habe ich geschwiegen;
ich war ja kein Sozialdemokrat.
Als sie die Gewerkschafter holten,
habe ich nicht protestiert;
ich war ja kein Gewerkschafter.
Als sie mich holten,
gab es keinen mehr, der protestieren konnte.
When the Nazis came for the communists,As Wikipedia points out, several variations have been published over the years...
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.
But I want you to read a more modern version, by Daithí Mac Lochlainn, who "speaks Gaelic to power" at the blog The Gaelic Starover:
When the Neo-Conservatives came into power, they disenfranchised a large number of American citizens of their vote, but I was neither black nor from Florida, so I said nothing.
Then, after receiving well over twenty specific warnings from both foreign and domestic intelligence sources, and enjoying a month-long vacation, they read a children’s book about a pet goat as two jet liners crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. However, I didn’t work there, nor did a loved one, nor was I a fireman or cop, or even from New York or New Jersey, so I swallowed the official explanation without question.
Then, they started detaining people without charges, but I was neither Arab nor Muslim, so I said nothing.
Then, they put gag orders on a woman who knew too much, but I wasn’t an FBI translator, I did nothing.
Then, they went after the artists, but I wasn’t an artist. I did nothing.
Then, they went after defense attorneys, but I wasn’t a lawyer. I did nothing.
Then, they invaded a sovereign nation in a war of aggression based on lies and deception, but I wasn’t Iraqi. I did nothing.
Then, they tortured, humiliated and photographed detainees and passed the images around like baseball cards, but wasn’t an Abu Ghraib inmate. I did nothing.
Then they sodomized a teen-aged boy in sight of his distraught mother, but I wasn’t an Iraqi youth. I did nothing.
Then, they cut off a small city’s water and power before bombing it to smithereens, but I didn't live in Fallujah. I did nothing.
Then, they “extraordinarily detained” innocent people for deportation to Middle Eastern dictatorships for unspeakable torture, but I wasn’t a Canadian of Middle Eastern descent. I did nothing.
Then, they leaked Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan's identity to the press, giving a "heads-up" to terrorists in the United Kingdom, but I didn't live in London. I did nothing.
Then they dispatched hordes of their wenching devotees to New York to make a party out of that City’s tragedy, and to deny its residents freedom of speech and assembly, right of way and access to their own City park, but again, I wasn’t a New Yorker. I did nothing.
Then, they “counted” ballots behind closed doors, but I was neither from Ohio nor a Democrat. I did nothing.
Then, they tried to plunder Social Security so that their Wall Street campaign contributors could go out on binge, but I didn’t fall into the effected age bracket. I did nothing.
Then they trashed and slimed a Gold Star Mom, but I had no children in the military. I did nothing.
Then, they nibbled on cake and plucked on a guitar, while neglectfully presiding over the destruction of a great American City and the cruel deaths of tens of thousands of its inhabitants, but I didn’t live in New Orléans. I did nothing…
…Then, they came for me…