Saturday, October 21, 2006

First they came for the Jews... variations on a theme

So. It's begun. This is the first move on the part of the Bush regime, now legally able to - well, pretty much do what they want to anyone they want. This is one of the many elements of the new Torture Bill, the Military Commissions Act 2006.

From today's Washington Post:

Moving quickly to implement the bill signed by President Bush this week that authorizes military trials of enemy combatants, the administration has formally notified the U.S. District Court here that it no longer has jurisdiction to consider hundreds of habeas corpus petitions filed by inmates at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.

In a notice dated Wednesday, the Justice Department listed 196 pending habeas cases, some of which cover groups of detainees. The new Military Commissions Act (MCA), it said, provides that "no court, justice, or judge" can consider those petitions or other actions related to treatment or imprisonment filed by anyone designated as an enemy combatant, now or in the future.

80s peace poster of Pastor NiemollerIt makes me think of Pastor Martin Niem├Âller's famous poem, First they came..., his cry of protest against those Germans who did nothing to stop the Nazi rise to power, and who stood by as the Nazis purged group after group of "undesirables" in their country.

Here's the original version in German, followed by the English translation:

Als die Nazis die Kommunisten holten,
habe ich geschwiegen;
ich war ja kein Kommunist.

Als sie die Sozialdemokraten einsperrten,
habe ich geschwiegen;
ich war ja kein Sozialdemokrat.

Als sie die Gewerkschafter holten,
habe ich nicht protestiert;
ich war ja kein Gewerkschafter.

Als sie mich holten,
gab es keinen mehr, der protestieren konnte.

-----------------------------------------------------

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
after all I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
after all I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
after all I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

-----------------------------------------------------

There have been many variations on the theme since the poem was first written. Trolling around the internet I found quite a few. Here are some of them.

First they came for the Socialists, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Socialist.

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 Jews, and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn't a Jew.

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

Common American and English poster version

-----------------------------------------------------

When they came for the Jews and the blacks, I turned away
When they came for the writers and the thinkers and the radicals and the protestors, I turned away
When they came for the gays, and the minorities, and the utopians, and the dancers, I turned away
And when they came for me, I turned around and around, and there was nobody left...

Hue and Cry, 1991


-----------------------------------------------------

First they put away the dealers,
keep our kids safe and off the street.
Then they put away the prostitutes,
keep married men cloistered at home.

Then they shooed away the bums,
then they beat and bashed the queers,
turned away asylum-seekers,
fed us suspicions and fears.
We didn't raise our voice,
we didn't make a fuss.
It's funny there was no one left to notice
when they came for us.

NOFX - "Re-gaining Unconsciousness"


-----------------------------------------------------

One day they came and they took the Communists
And I said nothing because I was not a Communist
Then one day they came and they took the people of the Jewish faith
And I said nothing because I had no faith left
One day they came and they took the unionists
And I said nothing because I was not a unionist
One day they burned the Catholic churches
And I said nothing because I was born a Protestant
Then one day they came and they took me
And I could say nothing because I was as guilty as they were
For not speaking out and saying that all men have a right to freedom
On any land
I was as guilty of genocide
As you
All of you
For you know when a man is free
And when to set him free from his slavery
So I charge you all with genocide
The same as I
One of the 18 million dead Jews
18 million dead people

Charles Mingus - "Don't Let It Happen Here"


-----------------------------------------------------

First they came for the addicts.
But I was not an addict.
Bad people. Dangerous people.
Better off our streets.

Then they came for the drunkards.
But I was not a drunkard.
Bad people. Dangerous people.
Better off our streets.

Then they came for the smokers.
But I was not a smoker.
Bad people. Dangerous people.
Better off our streets.

Then they came for the poets.

And I
could not
stop
writing.

RealChangeNews.org


-----------------------------------------------------

First they came for the blacks (and the Latinos and the American Indians and the Asians).
I was silent. I was not black (or Latino or American Indian or Asian).

Then they came for the gays and lesbians.
I was silent. I was not gay or lesbian.

Then they came for the kids with cleft palates, missing limbs, speech defects and other physical or mental defects.
I was silent. I had no such defects.

Then they came for the nerds, dweebs and geeks.
I was silent. I was not a nerd, dweeb or geek.

Then they came for the fat, wimpy and ugly kids.
I was silent. I was not fat, wimpy or ugly.

Then they came for the kids with attention deficit disorder.
I was silent. I did not have attention deficit disorder.

And then they came for me.
There was no one left to speak for me.

Unknown


-----------------------------------------------------

First they came for the uninsured (by passing an unenforceable health insurance portability bill that prohibits private health insurers from imposing preexisting condition exclusions beyond twelve months, but not guaranteeing access to the same benefits or limiting the premiums that can be charged).

But my family and I have health insurance, so I wasn't concerned.

Then they came for Medicaid recipients (by allowing states greater flexibility to get around federal standards designed to ensure that low income persons had access to a comprehensive benefit package). Now states can force Medicaid recipients into low cost Medicaid-only managed care plans with minimal federal oversight. One Medicaid program has resorted to an exclusive list of durable medical equipment without exceptions to restrict this benefit regardless of the type of equipment that can improve function and is medically necessary according to the doctor. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals initial ruling in the Desario case is to judge the adequacy of Medicaid benefits by whether they meet the needs of the "average patient" not the needs of persons with rare, unusual or costly treatment needs, even if it imposes a "death sentence" on some Medicaid recipients).

But I have private insurance, so I wasn't concerned.

Then they came for Medicare beneficiaries (by capping total reimbursement to Medicare providers based on previous utilization levels that create incentives for Medicare providers, like home health agencies, to withhold care from persons with the greatest needs who are less profitable to serve; healthy Medicare beneficiaries will be encouraged to set up Medical Savings Accounts to ensure control over the health care services they think they need, and to seek services from physicians who are not satisfied with the Medicare payment fee schedules by using a private fee for service contract, even though this undermines public leverage over provider reimbursement in the Medicare program).

But they told me I would have more "choices" so I wasn't concerned.

Then they came for persons with private insurance (when my employer told me that I could only choose between two policies in a low cost health plan selected by my employer).

But I thought I was generally healthy so I wasn't concerned.

Then I developed a chronic illness which led to a disability that required some durable medical equipment.

But my health plan decided that it was not part of the benefit package even though my doctor thinks it is medically necessary.

Unfortunately, there is no one left to speak up for me.

Bob Griss, Director of the Center on Disability & Health in Washington, DC and a board member of UHCAN


-----------------------------------------------------

First they came for the fourth amendment,
and I did not speak out, because I didn't deal drugs.

They came for the fifth amendment,
and I was silent because I owned no property involved in crimes

They came for the sixth amendment,
and I did not protest because I was innocent.

They came for the second amendment,
and I said nothing because I didn't own a gun.

And then they came for the first amendment,
and I could say nothing at all.

Illinois State University College of Fine Arts


-----------------------------------------------------

First Bush and Gonzales came for the terrorists,
but I was not a terrorist, so I did not speak out.

Then they came for the enemy combatants,
but I was not a combatant, so I did not object.

Then they came for the protestors resisting "free speech zones" near Bush campaign rallies,
but I was not a protestor and so I only voiced my unease.

Common Dreams - First They Came For The Terrorists...


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You have a chance to speak up on November 7. Please use it! GOTV.

Interesting links


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5 comments:

Kimberly said...

I just visited Yad Vashem for the first time, and then was searching for some more info when I found your blog. Fascinating stuff! I like all the variations you have on this same theme: the social responsibility to stop evil from happening by speaking up.

born2debate said...

i like the"amendments" one...that's amazing.

Piri said...

When the republicans abandoned our children in the schools;
I remained silent,
because I did not vote for them.

When the republicans abandoned New Orleans;
I remained silent,
after all I didn't vote for them.

When the republicans abandoned the people losing their houses to foreclosure;
I remained silent,
after all I'd voted against them.

And when I lost my job because their policies corroded the economy from the inside out,
they fiddled in the breeze, because our votes didn't make a sound.

- Me, because I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore.

Aimee said...

I was looking for Pat Parker's variation on this poem, I didn't find it on the web, but I did find your page. This was a great read, thank you so much for writing it.

aurizon said...

With apologies to Pastor Martin Niem├Âller's famous poem, First they came..., his cry of protest against those Germans who did nothing to stop the Nazi rise to power, and who stood by as the Nazis purged group after group of "undesirables" in their country.
[url=http://webweaversworld.blogspot.com/2006/10/first-they-came-for-jews-variations-on.html] Source[/url]

As you can see, there are many variations, please vary...


When SOPA came for the ISPs,
I remained silent;
after all I was not an ISP.

When SOPA locked up the all the routers,
I remained silent;
after all I did not have a router.

When they came for the movie uploaders,
I did not speak out;
after all I was not a movie uploader.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.