Then They Came For Me

Martin Niemöller was a Protestant pastor and outspoken critic of Adolf Hitler who spent seven years in concentration camps. His most famous poem could not be more relevant today:

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.

After the catastrophic failure of the first travel ban, President Trump plans to issue a revised version that will focus on the same seven countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen —  but only bars entry to those without a visa and who have never entered the United States before. This ban could be issued nationwide by March 1, but it has apparently already gone into effect in our national airports.

The lawyer for Muhammad Ali told reporters that immigration officers at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport had taken into custody his son Ali Jr. and asked him about his Muslim origin. He was with his mother Khalilah Camacho-Ali, who is the second wife of the greatest boxer in history.

According to several sources, immigration officers asked questions such as ‘Are you Muslim?’ and ‘Where did you get your name from’ during their two-hour longer meeting.

Does it matter that Ali Jr. was born in Philadelphia? Does it matter that he is the son of America’s most globally celebrated icon? All that seemed to matter to these agents working under the auspices of Trump’s unofficial policy, was that he had a Muslim sounding name and looked Arab. That was reason enough to detain him.

When I heard about Ali’s detaining, I immediately thought about Niemöller and his poem. First Trump will try to stop us for our religion. Next he will try to stop us for our politics. Then he will try to stop us for our sexual orientation. Ultimately we will be stopped for no reason at all. This is the tragic path of dictatorship.

The last time I checked, the right to freedom of association is recognized as a human right, a political right and a civil liberty.

The last time I checked, The United States Constitution explicitly provides for ‘the right of the people peaceably to assemble-including airport terminals.

If we do not stop this assault on our liberty now, there will be no one left to blame when all freedom loving citizens are chained to the psychotic whim of a maniacal ruler. Those who are currently protected by their advantages will soon be facing the same treatment as Mr. Ali Jr. If we do not stop this runaway President before it is too late, it will only be a matter of time before we all crash and burn right along with him.

 

In January 1946, Niemöller wrote: “Thus, whenever I chance to meet a Jew known to me before, then, as a Christian, I cannot but tell him: ‘Dear Friend, I stand in front of you, but we can not stand together, for there is guilt between us. I have sinned and my people has sinned against thy people and against thyself.'”

 

 

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Photo by George Cassidy Payne
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