Eventually, They'll Come For You


Last updated 8/5/2020 at 4:39pm

It was the last line in Dan Carter’s letter to the editor in The Transylvania Times of July 23 where he says that we seek a “… community marked by justice instead of the quiet order of the morally indifferent” that reminded me of Martin Niemoeller’s lament that:

“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a socialist.

“Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a trade unionist.

“Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew.

“Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak for me.”

If we replace the term “socialists,” “trade unionists” and “Jews” with “antifas,” “anarchists” and “agitators,” we recognize the echoes of the early 1930s Germany in the tactics used by the current administration. For example, who are the unidentified “federal officers” in tactical gear arresting protesters in Portland and forcing them into unmarked cars?

It was the “Brown Shirts” under Ernst Roehm who used extra-legal tactics to intimidate the population in the late ‘20s and early ‘30s in Germany. I was not yet born when Hitler usurped power in 1933, but I experienced the consequences of life under the Gestapo (Secret State Police), when my family shipped my grandmother to the in-laws in the country because she could not keep her mouth shut. You never knew who might hear derogatory comments made about the Nazis and in consequence have a knock on the door in the middle of the night. (By the way, she started out being a strong supporter of the Nazis. The trouble was, once you became disenchanted and saw through the propaganda emptiness, you could not be heard to criticize it.)

We are not there yet, but if someone were to be bullied for having called another out for not wearing a mask in a public space, is our society far from being bullied by the likeness of the “Brown Shirts?” If someone marches in support of “Black Lives Matters” and gets beaten up by so-called “federal troops,” is our society far from being intimidated by “the government”? And what is the difference between the extreme right wing counter-protesters (which our president assured us had “good people” among them) and the camouflaged troops that AG Barr sent into the Democratic controlled cities to “protect” the “federal” courthouses?

Beware, lest we have to repeat Niemoeller’s lament.

Henning Meyn

Pisgah Forest


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