Saturday, September 30, 2006

Then They Came For Me

According to Wikipedia:
"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,
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.
In English, this text reads:
When the Nazis came for the communists,
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.
As Wikipedia points out, several variations have been published over the years...

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…