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.


These words were written by Martin Niemöller (1892-1984) a German theologian. As a young man he was an avid and loyal German military officer, first in the Imperial German Navy, then in WWI a U-Boat commander. In 1920 he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and began seminary training at the University of Munster.


Niemöller was a staunch supporter of the coming of the Third Reich. Until in 1934 he along with two prominent Protestant bishops had a personal meeting with Adolph Hitler to discuss the state’s pressures on churches. At that meeting it became clear that Niemöller’s phone had been tapped by the Gestapo, and that the group he represented, the Pastors Emergency League, had been under close state surveillance.


That meeting was a wake-up call for Niemöller. It changed everything for him, and he began to see the Nazi state as a dictatorship. He devoted the remainder of WWII combatting Nazism from the inside. In 1937 he was arrested and eventually confined in the Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps. His crime was “not being enthusiastic enough about the Nazi movement.” Niemöller was released in 1945 by the Allies.


Today in Trump’s angry minorities of the far-right wing of American politics we see a similar danger to us that Niemöller saw in the emergent Nazi party of his days. There’s only one way: their way. Any and everything else is met with absolute annihilation. They are intolerant of any other option, any other path for America. During the past few months, I’ve seen a storm of articles The Washington Post, The New York Times, on CNN, MSNBC, the major networks, The Atlantic—the list goes on and on, warning America of the growing dangers of the Trumpian right-wing to American democracy. They all emphasize: this is a genuine threat, not a passing trend or phase. And it cannot be ignored.


There is a serious, organized effort underway to legitimize the views of the radical right-wing anger, along with all of its many prejudices. For example: ● at least 10 people involved in the Capitol riots were just elected to state and local office, ● at least 5 more are running for Congress.


We have to speak up, with our voices, with our votes. I underestimated Trump’s electability and appeal in 2016. I won’t do it again. And neither should you. The price of our silence will be our democracy.