“First they came for the Communists,
and 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 Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time there was no one
left to speak up for me”.
This lament by Pastor Martin Niemöller was made in times of Nazi Germany and has such powerful depth that it continues to reberverate, even in our times, as much more than a favorable quotation for jews, that would be just circumstantial. What he said implies that we have to care about each other because when people we are not identified with is humiliated and we don’t do anything because we don’t care, in the end, we will be humiliating ourselves. How many tragedies has indifference caused?! Indiference, which is the same as saying aberrant complicity. Or silence!, a frightful culprit! Many Eastern Europeans who didn’t care about Stalin’s assassinations in the USSR eventually were murdered by him once the USSR occupied their countries, just like those, who didn’t care what was happening to the Jews under Hitler because that was their problem very soon had to pay a dearly high price in Blood.
Those who don’t care what is happening to others end up suffering the same things. This is the essence of Niemöller’s words. In the world, many are suffering things that are not even dennounced because the rest don’t care.
There is a fabulous popular legend about King Christian X of Denmark during the Nazi occupation that he chose, in solidarity with his subject Jews, to carry the yellow Star of David; if true, that would have meant that King Christian understood that in the end we are all “Jews”. But it is not about Jews that this article is about, but about understanding that whatever injustices that happen to others and we allow to continue, may end up happening to ourselves.
Today, Muslims are suspected of terrorism all around the world just because they are Muslims. Will the Catholics come next? Or will it be the Communists? Will it be the trade unionists? Will it be religious people in general? Will it be people with different points of view?
In Venezuela all of us who are not fully committed to Chavez revolution will become political prisoners.
His reflection is a hint put in many texts and consciences and in these texts the hopelessness converges. Heart ripping events for posterity that reiterate that this is not the epigraph of just the Jew narrations. For instance, a pronouncement on February, 20th, 2002, National Day of Solidarity with the Arab, Muslim and South Asian immigrants*(1), caught my attention because it concerns us. This is how it goes:
“We call everybody to participate in the National Day of Solidarity with the Arab, Muslim and South Asian immigrants. The words of Pastor Niemöller clearly express the challenge that those who look for justice in a better world have. This time they first come for the Arab, Muslim and South Asian immigrants. Just because they belong to certain ethnic groups more than 1,500 people have been arrested and the government doesn’t want to divulge their identities, where they are or under what charges they are accused. A Pakistani man has already died in prison. Who will be next? The recent “disappearances”, the indefinite arrests, the raids, the secret military courts, the absence of legal representation, the evidence that is never shown to the defendant, the lack of an impartial trial for the Arab, Muslim and South Asian immigrants among others, have chilling similarities with the techniques of a police state. We won’t allow that our pain over the 9/11 tragedy is used to justify this new type of repression. It is clear that to be an immigrant is not to be a criminal. The Arab, Muslim and South Asian immigrants aren’t terrorists.
120,000 Japanese-Americans and Japanese immigrants were put in concentration camps during World War II. Just after 50 years, the government acknowledged such injustice. Let’s work together to have a hospitable community for immigrants and refugees by holding out and stopping these new injustices! Human life is more important than some unjust laws. Let’s unite with people from the United States to celebrate the National Day of Solidarity. February 20th, 2002 let’s be supportive with the Arab, Muslim and South Asian immigrants. The voice and action from the people are the only things that can STOP these attacks and ensure freedom and justice for all.
On February, 20th, 2002, let’s all wear a blue triangle with the name of one of the recent “missing” person’s name. In 1940, the Nazis wore triangles of different colors to categorize and divide the people in the concentration camps. We won’t allow this type of classification now. We will wear a blue triangle with a positive attitude: to show our support with today’s victims.
Chose a way to express your support: churches, synagogues, syndicates, and the schools can give refuge to the pursued. Organize vigils or a protest at the detention center of the immigration police; organize a conference at your school, college or university; call your representatives and demand that these atrocities stop; organize a session of poetry or music slam; write a letter to the newspaper demanding justice for all; the students must demand to their schools, colleges and universities don’t hand over the immigrant student’s files to the government. Contact your TV stations and the talk shows and ask to be a part of their programs. Organize an educational and cultural event “Get to know the immigrant”, so they can tell their stories.
Remember the tragedy of the Nazi Germany, where many pretended not to see when their neighbors disappeared, were pursued and were stripped of their civil rights. What would you have done then? What will you do now?”
Pynchas Brener *2, the respected rabbi living in our country Venezuela, in a 1992 article mentions the ill-fated day of November 9th, 1938, in Germany, the day of the massacre of the Jews, called “Kristalnacht”, the night of the breaking of the glass. And he says: “From the long and winding night till the morning, it crumbled the innocent, up to that moment, appreciation of hundreds of thousands of Jews who considered Germany to be their fatherland. From a population of approximately 600,000, some 300,000 Jews still resided in Germany, having completely identified with its music and literature. They listened to Beethoven and quoted Goethe, but they were awakened to the harsh reality that were the Nazi mobs who could act, hurt and kill without the smallest protest from the citizens and with the complicity of many. There were individuals who showed incredible courage, but no organized church group raised its voice in protest. Six months later after Kristalnacht, the Catholic Church asked for a divine blessing for Hitler in the masses that took place to celebrate his fiftieth birthday…”
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germany- judios- friends- comunistas- catolicos- people- international
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