Speaking Out

Compelled by some offensive comments on our neighborhood chat list (a Nextdoor application), I wrote the following. It has garnered both support and nasty responses.

In response to the recent remarks about homeless and other people:

To paraphrase Martin Niemöller, a Protestant pastor who spoke out against the fascist regime in Germany and spent many years in concentration camps:

First they came for the Japanese and put them in internment camps, and I did not speak out, because I was not Japanese.

Then they came for the Black Panthers and bombed and burned their homes, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Black Panther.

Then they came for the Mexican immigrants and called them criminals and rapists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Mexican immigrant.

Then they came for the Muslims and called them all terrorists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Muslim.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

In Denmark, where I grew up, my family and others I knew participated in the underground resistance to the Nazis. In October 1943, my high school principal was among the leaders of an effort that saw over seven thousand Jews (almost all the Danish Jews at the time) evacuated in fishing boats to Sweden, which was a neutral country. They were about to be rounded up [soon to be systematically gathered] and sent to death camps.

We must not be quiet when rhetoric that dehumanizes groups of people is put forth. Such rhetoric dehumanizes us all.

Allan Hansen

Cypress, California, USA

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for USA issues

(Present Time 187, April 2017)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00