First they came for the Communists,

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Communist.

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.

This confessional poem written by Rev. Martin Niemoller of Lippstadt, Germany, who did not oppose Hitler until the dictator tried to suppress the clergyman’s expression of his religious views. Rev. Niemoller survived captivity in the Dachau camp, after which he penned this poem. 

Here’s my 2020 version:

President Trump first attacked the Muslims,

And I did nothing

Because I am not a Muslim.

Then he came after the Mexican and Central Americans, 

And I did nothing 

Because I am neither.

Then he came after immigrants from South America 

Using his “zero tolerance” policy, separating families, resulting in over 2,500 children, ages 3-16, being orphaned

And I did nothing

Because I am not an immigrant.

Then he came after black and brown families 

Demonstrating his racist white supremacy

And I did nothing

Because I am not black or brown.

Then he came after the protestors 

Who were legally marching for civil rights, equal justice for all, and against authoritative and police brutality. 

He deployed his armed mystery “troopers” to terrorize protestors, even using tear gas against them, which incited even more problems for our cities.

And, finally, I tried to do something.

Folks, including me, were frightened and intimidated. 

Even though I was not deserving of any help, there seemed to be no one willing to help — me or themselves — because they weren’t yet personally affected.

There is, however, a method by which we can defeat this power-mad, greedy, and cruel dictator-in-the-making. We must join together to do something before Trump gets another four years to further destroy our democracy.  

We need to vote!  

Together, we can vote him out of office.

Harriet Hausman

River Forest

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