‘First they silenced…’

 The old saying says:

Those who do not learn from the past are destined to repeat it.

Perhaps we should re-phrase it to:

Those who do not learn the right lesson from history are destined to repeat it. 

After all, learning the wrong lesson could be worse than learning no lesson at all!

This all goes back to my rant on how often people do not recognize the difference between ‘symptom’ on the one hand, and a ’cause’ on the other.  Are they really so difficult to tell apart?

Many years ago, I went through a period when I was reading a lot of eyewitness books about WWII and the political atmosphere in Europe following the war.  I came across something intersting that Barbara Amiel had written:   she spent her childhood in ‘wartime London’.  Following the war, there was a determination among her relatives that nothing like this must ever be allowed to happen again.  And because Hitler was perceived as being ‘right wing’, Ms. Amiel asserts, ‘everyone’ became suspicious of – and opposed to – everything that was deemed to be ‘right wing’.

In other words, the lesson this group of people learned was:

  1. Hitler = right wing
  2. Hitler = evil
  3. ergo, right wing = evil

This is almost as sophisticated reasoning as that used for forcing women to wear a hijab, so they would not tempt men to rape them – as uncovered meat tempts cats to eat it. In other words, that is not the correct lesson.  Yet, many very intelligent people still fall into this trap in one form or another.

Yet, lots of people do learn the right lesson.  This one may be exemplified by the ‘First they came for…’ poem, attributed to Martin Niemoller:

“First they came for the Communists, but I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

Yet, even now, people are misunderstanding the poem!  So, please, in my never-humble way, let me pay homage to the right lesson here and write today’s version, as it could be.

“First they silenced the crackpot and nutcases, but I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a crackpot or a nutcase.

Then they silenced the bloggers, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a blogger.

Then they silenced the journalists, newspapers, magazines and books, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a journalist and didn’t write newspapers, magazines or books.

Then they silenced the Christians, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t religious.

Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left who was allowed to speak.”

If we fail to learn this lesson, this will be in store for us!  This is NOT HISTORY!  This is now, here, in OUR WORLD! 

This is what happens when people think a political party, or a particular political bend is the problem and fail to recognize that political oppression and governments who do not follow due process of law to achieve their ends that is the problem!!!  And if you are an adult, and not afraid to see a graphic example of the result of a state not bound by its laws is, here are some pictures that were too gruesome to print in a newspaper. 

But I warn you – do not look if you are sqeemish.  It took me a while to realize what part of the human body I was really looking at…

As it is taking so many of us to realize what type of oppression it is that we are facing!