Friday, September 29, 2006

Friday Poetry Blogging: Rev. Martin Niemöller Edition

In the wake of the recent decisions to suspend habeas corpus indefinitely, and to allow torture in America's name of everyone the government thinks might possibly be against them, like "leftists," I offer you some sage words from someone who has been in our position before. He watched his country descend into fascism in the name of security, as we are seeing in our own country this week.

In the Original German:


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 die Juden holten,
habe ich nicht protestiert;
ich war ja kein Jude.

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

And in English:

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

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

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

When they came for the Jews,
I did not speak out;
I was not a Jew.

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

I would also like to offer some brave words he spoke to Hitler in 1934 for your consideration: (From here)
"Wir werden nicht aufhören, für unser ganzes Volk wachsam zu sein und niemand, nicht einmal Sie, werden imstande sein, diese Verantwortung uns abzunehmen."
Or,
"We will not stop watching over our entire people, and no one, not even you, will be able to take this responsibility from us."

To be honest, I'm not sure what to do at this point. I can write letters to evil or completely ineffectual government asshats. I've done that before, and look where we are.

Like Chris Clarke (who always manages to be one of those whose intelligence stuns), I withdraw my consent.

You who write and support laws that take away the rights of humanity when and how it suits you, I withdraw my consent. You do not govern me.

You who cower cravenly and meekly offer the bodies and lives of humanity as a whole so that you may keep your seat at a table that once met to ensure the rights of all, but has now become a way to eliminate all dissent, I withdraw my consent.

You who sold true American values away to avoid the indignity of being called names, I withdraw my consent. You do not govern me.

You who have suffered torture at the hands of an enemy and seek to promote it in your own government in the hopes of winning the approval of hatemongers, I withdraw my consent. You do not govern me.

I will not stop watching over my entire people, and no one, not even you, will be able to take this responsibility from me.

I withdraw my consent.

3 comments:

Lis said...

It seems peurile to offer, "hear, hear." But that's what I'm doing. Brilliantly written.

Anonymous said...

From the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, I offer my support. I so admire the intensity and power of your defiance.
Kicki

HeoCwaeth said...

Kicki,
HI! I missed you. Thanks for your comments. I feel a bit unworthy of admiration, though, because I've just made a pseudonymous declaration to nobody in particular. Chris Clarke made a stronger declaration, i.e., "I am an enemy combatant" under his own name.