refugees

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 remained silent;
I wasn’t a Jew.

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

  • Martin Niemoller

 

I seldom get into politics on my blog (I can’t say never because I do sometimes) and I realize I’m breaking a long silence with a controversial post but I’m tired of being silent.

I first read this poem at The Holocaust Museum in Washington DC. And it struck me then as important and in these recent days it has been apparent to me just how important the lesson in this poem is. And how it still applies today.

The refugee debate on Facebook has been strong this last week and it has saddened me how hateful and coldhearted some people can be. At some points it has just plain scared me. Have we learned nothing from history? Condemning a whole group of people as terrorists, dangerous, unclean and unwelcome seems dangerously similarly to how Jews were treated during WWII.

We once turned away a ship full of Jewish people and that act is regarded as shameful as many of those people returned to Europe to be murdered. Yet, here governors, presidential candidates and my Facebook friends call for us to turn away another generation of refugees. We shall someday regret this and look with shame on our actions I believe.

People have given many arguments for why they don’t want refugees coming to the United States and one I have heard is “we don’t have the resources to take care of our own homeless”. At the end of the day that problem will still be there whether we take in more refugees or not. And I ask you – how much did you care about the homeless before this debate started?

I don’t even want to touch on the terrorist argument. It just seems absurd to me that we should deny a whole group of people entry because one or two may put us at risk. And that isn’t guaranteed. It is stereotyping of Muslims that drives me crazy. I’d rather debate about how many people white males kill with guns.

Returning to the poem at the beginning of my post: while people sit at home typing on their computers I hope they remember that we as human beings have a responsibility to be there for one another. One day we might be the person that needs taken care of and if we don’t help now there may be no one there to help us when the time comes.

 

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1 Comment

Filed under culture, faith, quotes, social change, society, writing/poetry

One response to “refugees

  1. Great points, and a very timely quote!

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