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.
German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984).
This poem was written, of course, about the silence of Germany and the rest of the world that led, step by step, to the concentration death camps during World War II.
But it is a broader statement about not speaking out against injustice. About the method used over and over, to impose government control and a cultural regime, by selecting one group of “others” after another to be oppressed.
The evolution of the Republican party and their recent win of the presidency unfortunately represents yet another iteration of this process.
On September 29 “the United States was one of 13 nations, including some of the most repressive nations on Earth, to oppose a United Nations motion condemning the death penalty for those in same-sex relationships, blasphemers and adulterers.” Why Did the Trump Administration Vote Against U.N. Motion Condemning Gay Death Penalty, Newsweek
“Then they came for me.” It is important to stress my family and community have always been supportive of me being gay, once they knew. But it wasn’t until I was 20 years old that I was able to tell them. I grew up in a time in America that we all know was extremely anti-gay. As hard as I’ve tried to rise above how that made me feel about myself, there are scars.
That made it easy for me to understand, even as a child, the concept of white privilege. But I also understood from the onset that my experience was far different from that of people of color. The color of my skin alone did not make me a target. I could “pass” in society as long as I hid being gay.
If you haven’t been a target, yet, unless you are an older, conservative, white male, you may be next.
We have concentration camps today. I wrote of our economic concentration camps. And a criminal justice system that targets people of color. Our for-profit prisons for people of color, making money from oppression!
And the militarized attacks on water protectors, praying at Standing Rock.
If you haven’t yet, isn’t now the time to “speak out”?