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Fear and the ‘Good American’

Politics / US Politics Nov 20, 2016 - 03:58 AM GMT

By: Michael_T_Bucci


There is no one I know or meet whose life hasn’t been noticeably affected – even interrupted and disrupted – by Donald J. Trump. Many have been thrust into fear by his election.

As a warning signal, fear can prompt vigilance, alertness, caution and preparedness, as it is now doing in many. In this respect, fear is a healthy response to a perceived or potential threat. But, if allowed it can be a self-defeating mechanism that scrambles rational thinking, weakens defenses and disorients reality.

Fear can be provoked by real threats, imminent ones, as well as imaginary ones.

Those who purposely provoke fear can do so to manipulate and control you. When that fails, they can employ punitive measures.

When the object feared is real and cannot be controlled by the individual, when control depends upon the action of another or others, anxiety and panic can ensue.

Donald J. Trump’s powerful and potentially dangerous effect upon this country and the world remains unchecked and unbridled – indeed sanctioned by over forty-seven percent of voters and the next ruling political party. But if any future action by the president-elect violates the United States Constitution and is not restrained by Congress and the Supreme Court, the rule of law in this nation will be gravely undermined. In consequence, every American will lose the same Constitutional protection violated in another; and be vulnerable to any similar act of violation.

When the rule of law is broken for one, it is broken for all.

When a scapegoat is created, every citizen is at risk of becoming one.

When a wall is erected to bar an entrance, it also blocks an exit.

The fear and cowardice of WWII “Good Germans” who “did nothing” to protect their neighbors from Nazis was succinctly captured in Martin Niemöller’s famous poem, “First they came...” (1946).

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.

Written and delivered after the war, Niemöller, along with nine other Protestant pastors, had already issued warnings and statements as early as 1936 describing the disposition of “Good Germans” toward Nazism and the fear that gripped most others.

“Our people are trying to break the bond set by God. That is human conceit rising against God,” they wrote. “Today his [Hitler’s] thoughts are used as a basis not only for political decisions but also for morality and law.”

In 1937, Niemöller was imprisoned for seven years in Sachsenhausen and Dachau for dissent.

The poem is asking us to review our role in troubling times when neighbors are set against each other by political, religious and media leaders competing to control the population and nation.

... In times when scapegoats are created to deflect blame.

... In times when lies are hatched to provoke hate, vengeance and violence.

... In times when economic systems have created fiercely competitive individuals incapable of cooperation.

... In times when long-standing international alliances splinter in the name of nationalisms.

... In times when social cohesion is torn asunder by ideologies that contradict both human wisdom and the highest truths preached by every religion in the world.

Today we know who was a “Good German” in the Third Reich and who was not. But if fascism should come to America, I ask myself: Who will be a “Good American” and who won’t? Will I be one or won’t I?

When they come for the immigrants, will I remain silent? I am not an immigrant.

When they come for the Moslems, will I remain silent? I am not a Moslem.

When they come for the refugees, will I remain silent? I am not a refugee.

When they come for the journalists, will I remain silent? I am not a journalist.

When they come for members of Congress, will I remain silent? I am not a politician.

When they come for young black men and Latinos, will I remain silent? I am not black or Latino.

When they come for gays, will I remain silent? I am not gay.

When they come for women who had abortions, will I remain silent? I am not a woman.

When they burn churches, mosques and synagogues, will I remain silent? I am not a member of those churches.

When they come for those on their enemy list, will I remain silent?

When they come for you, will I remain silent?

If fascism comes to America, will you remain silent?

(c) 2016 Michael T. Bucci

(Michael T. Bucci is a retired public relations executive currently living in New England. He has authored nine books on practical spirituality collectively titled The Cerithous Material.)


“Martin Niemöller”, Wikiquotes.

“Martin Niemöller Biography”, Biography online.

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