Friday, November 18, 2016

NIEMOLLER FOR TODAY

Martin Friedrich Gustav Niemoller was a German Lutheran pastor and founder of the "Confessing Church," that small minority that opposed Nazism.  He spent 7 years in Nazi concentration camps.  He is remembered for the quotation that some consider a poem:

"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."

There are many variations on the quotation, since Niemoller often spoke extemporaneously and was widely quoted (and possibly misquoted).  Some versions include Communists, Catholics, Jehovah Witnesses -- all groups which suffered under Hitler.

Niemoller believed that the German Protestant churches were in some way complicit in the persecution through their silence.

America has chosen a man for President who in many ways is bringing back memories of Der Fuhrer.  I recognize that practically every President has been compared to Hitler by some group and that none has even come close.  But Donald Trump is different!  He is a man who has preached and stirred up hatred for certain ethnic and religious minorities, seemingly blaming them for what's wrong with American.  He has received endorsement from radical White Supremacists and numerous hate groups,  while only mildly distancing himself from them.  And what has the (white) church done?  Some have even endorsed this man.  Others have given bland counsel on submission and unity.  Some have publicly defended this man and even served as his "advisors."  And the rest of us have simply kept silent.  So with apologies to Martin Niemoller I decided to rewrite his poem for today:

First he'll come for the Mexicans,
but we won't say anything because we're not Mexicans.
Then he'll come for the Muslims,
but we won't say anything because we're not Muslims.
Then he'll come for the African Americans,
but we won't say anything because we're not African Americans.
Then he'll come for the Native Americans,
but we won't say anything because we're not Native Americans.
Then he'll come for the news media,
but we won't say anything because we're not of the news media.
Then he'll come for the feminists,
but we won't say anything because we're not feminists.
Then he'll come for the gays,
but we won't say anything because we're not gay.
But he won't come for us because we voted for him.

I believe that perhaps we may need a "Confessing Church" again today. 

Revised 12/3/2016


               
 

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