came for the Jews,
But I was not a Jew,
So I did not speak out.
The three small
lines bear witness to the Holocaust. They stun. They make us look
inward to gauge our own capacity for passive, complicit evil. The
poem in which the stanza appears is thought to have originated in
various postwar speeches of German Pastor Martin Niemoller.
cannot be stunned when the following statement is uttered by popular
shock-jock commentator Michael Savage over America's Talk Radio
say, u2018Oh, there's a billion of them.' I said, u2018So, kill 100 million
of them, then there'll be 900 million of them.' I mean, would you
rather die — would you rather us die than them?"
He was talking
about Muslims — all Muslims — in his April 17 broadcast. Okay, Savage
is a nutjob, right? A worst-case example of the failure of the human
soul. He's not like the rest of us.
he's like a lot of us here in the United States. The Michael Savage
Show is the third largest syndicated radio talk show in the country.
As U.S. media continue their slide into the moral sewer of ultra-right
propaganda, Savage's brand of hate talk is rather routine.
leader Pat Robertson labels Islam, "a bloody, brutal kind of
religion," on the Christian Broadcasting Corporation's televised
700 Club. Commentator Ann Coulter writes in the Jewish World
Review that "[T]he government should be spying on all Arabs,
engaging in torture as a televised spectator sport." Civilized
people would like to believe that Coulter is an anomalous hatemeister,
lurking from the shadows of an ill-designed blogsite, with iron
crosses and ads for assault knives in the sidebars. But Coulter
is a welcome guest on cable TV giants like Fox News, MSNBC, and
CNN, and her column is syndicated by UPI.
a founding father and fourth president of the United States, wrote,
"When tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be
in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." For the sake of
the republic, Madison would have been unswayed by the tinhorn patriotism
and the anti-Muslim (in effect, anti-American) rants of today's
hater from another era:
make a new beginning today so that we can annihilate the Jew."
That was Julius
Streicher, in a speech given in Nuremberg, 1925. Streicher was publisher
of Der Stuermer, a viciously anti-Semitic newspaper. He was a favorite
of Hitler in the buildup to the Third Reich. Like the United States'
Talk Radio Network, Der Stuermer was a key player in the mass media
of its day. And, like Julius Streicher before him, Michael Savage
serves up a constant, genocidal background chant for an administration
bent on imperial war.
Now the president
claims that Iran's nuclear capability is a threat to the United
States. Those who love this country will remember that he said the
same thing about WMD in Iraq before sending the country's sons and
daughters into the slaughterhouse.
in Washington and Jerusalem cheer as the president announces, "You
bet, we'll defend Israel," from Iran. But informed observers,
like Israeli military expert Martin van Creveld and U.S. physicist
Gordon Prather, have assured us that Iran is years away from creating
a nuclear weapon if, indeed, they are creating one at all.
Lacking a legitimate
casus belli, the administration knows that in order to wage war
it must make the people hate. In order to control them, it must
make them fear. So the administration offers up a decades-long war
with "terrorists." And who are these terrorists? Why,
"Islamofascists," according to media cheerleaders.
In its demonization
of Jews, Nazi Germany bet on the moral somnolence of the German
people, and it bet right. But the Third Reich collapsed under the
weight of its own hatred and under the military might of the civilized
world. U.S. citizens should pay heed.
If Pastor Niemoller
were speaking today, would he add three more lines to his poem,
for the sake, not only of Muslims, but of all humanity?
came for the Muslims,
But I was not a Muslim,
So I did not speak out.
The Nazis deadened
the soul of a nation. America, will you heed the genocidal call
from the likes of Savage, Coulter, et al.? America, is your soul
Nolan [send him mail] is a
freelance writer from Taunton, MA. His recent work has appeared
in The Vermont Guardian, LewRockwell.com, Common Dreams.org