First they came…..
There are many variations of below verse that is attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984). The most widely used version starts with the Jews first but many scholars and others who remembered the earliest references say that the Jews were the last group rounded up. Feel free to do your own research.
First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out–
because I was not a communist;
Then 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 out for me.
Other versions also include categories such as churches, schools, the disabled, and the press.
Milton Mayer’s book, They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45 (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1955, 1966), p. 168f quotes a German professor in “Kronenburg” (probably Mainz–its population was about 42,000 at the time) whom Mayer interviewed between 1950 and 1954, as follows:
“Pastor Niemöller spoke for thousands and thousands of men like me when he spoke (too modestly of himself) and said that, when the Nazis attacked the Communists, he was a little uneasy, but, after all, he was not a Communist, and so he did nothing; and then they attacked the Socialists, and he was a little uneasier, but, still, he was not a Socialist, and he did nothing; and then the schools, the press, the Jews, and so on, and he was always uneasier, but still he did nothing. And then they attacked the Church, and he was a Churchman, and he did something–but then it was too late.”
Things have not changed much over the last 50 or so years except that many now have the “Not in my backyard” attitude. People turn the other cheek if the government or large corporations do negative things and long as they are not negatively affected directly.
I surely am not a scholar and I surely am not trying to present something as eloquent and of historical significance as what Father Niemöller said. I am only trying to draw a parallel to what I see going on in our country. It also has to do with loss of freedoms and even death – but not to the degree of death suffered by millions of Jews in World War II.
I humbly submit this for your evaluation and consideration:
First we assassinated foreign dictators
to secure important resources for America
and to also help our large multinational corporations
but that was overseas –
I surely am not a dictator,
nor do I have significant resources –
So it did not affect me
Then we assassinated enemy combatants
but that was in GITMO, Abu Ghraib and other dark sites –
I surely am not an enemy combatant,
So it did not affect me
Now we are assassinating suspected terrorists
in Afghanistan and Pakistan
using unmanned drone aircraft –
and even though innocent citizens are killed in the process
and are simply written off as collateral damage –
it is being done because of terrorism –
I am surely not a terrorist
so it does not affect me
Now we are trying to assassinate an American citizen
Who has become an Imam and is now living in Yemen
And maintains a dual citizenship as a Yemini
He is accused of inspiring a wave of attacks
against the U.S. and is a leading voice for
recruiting and motivating terrorists.
I am not an Imam nor do I make threats
or recruit or motivate terrorists,
BUT this really is starting to bother me
Maybe someday I will witness something –
Maybe a crime or some illegal government activity
And a large corporation or even our government
will not like that and they will come after me,
and that will really affect me.
I do not have a detailed list of everything this Imam, who also is an American citizen, is being accused. All I know is what I have read on the Internet and in the American and Foreign Press. There is an extensive article in Lancaster, PA’s “The Intelligencer Journal / New Era” dated Wednesday, September 13th, 2010, with the title “U.S. considers terror charges for cleric if CIA can’t kill him”. The article was written by Matt Apuzzo of the Associated Press.
What I am deeply troubled with is that “If” the CIA cannot kill him then the U. S. will consider terror charges against him. This is appalling to me.
Our country has laws, a Bill of Rights, and a Constitution. Other countries have comparable documents as well. In addition, there are international laws and treaties that need to be followed. Some countries have extradition treaties with each other. The United States has entered into extradition treaties with most countries in Europe and Latin America, and with a few countries in Africa and Asia.
Al-Awlaki, was born in New Mexico and is a citizen of the United States and Yemen, where he currently resides. Yemen DOES NOT have an extradition treaty with the U. S. but it does maintain diplomatic relations.
As Apuzzo’s article states, Yemeni officials have stated that they will not turn him over to our government because he is a Yemeni citizen and that he must be prosecuted in Yemen.
I believe if we expect other countries to respect our sovereignty and our borders we should do the same. In addition, our first course of action should be through the American judicial system and not assassination – especially if the individual is a U. S. citizen.
If Al-Awlaki were charged in the U. S. as supporting terrorism it would result in a maximum of a 15-year prison sentence. That said, how can our President authorize the CIA to kill him – especially if he has not been found guilty of a crime.
Sure, we can all get caught up in the sound of drums beating for continuous wars – whether they are justified or not, but assassination of a U. S. citizen who has not been convicted of a crime goes beyond the pale – no matter what this citizen is being accused.