Als sie die Sozialdemokraten einsperrten, habe ich geschwiegen; ich war ja kein Sozialdemokrat.
Als sie die Gewerkschafter holten, habe ich nicht protestiert; ich war ja kein Gewerkschafter.
Als sie die Juden holten, habe ich geschwiegen; ich war ja kein Jude.
Als sie die Katholiken holten, habe ich nicht protestiert; ich war ja kein Katholik.
Als sie mich holten, gab es keinen mehr, der protestierten konnte.”
Martin Niemöller *1892, 1984† was a naval officer in the First World War, and then a member of a post-war paramilitary group. He became a Lutheran minister. At first he supported the Nazis, and later was imprisoned by them. After the Hitlerite war, he gave speeches which variously phrased this adage:
When the Nazis came for the communists, I kept silent; I was no communist.
When they locked up the social democrats, I kept silent; I was no social democrat.
When they came for the unionists, I did not protest; I was no unionist.
When they came for the Jews, I kept silent; I was no Jew.
When they came for the Catholics, I did not protest; I was no Catholic.
When they came for me, there was no one left, who could protest.
Now, [here look who is always at top of the list in Niemöller's versions] this has been apropriated by many to include their group in it. Ms. Sysack, as did her deceased brother, has a political profile of interests and the desire and opportunity [click, click2, click3] to express it. During the last presidential campaign this billboard advertised Ron Paul. These Paulists are fervent, and the intersection with the descendants of the John Birchers, known as teabaggers, is significant. These people are of a wont to believe in political conspiracies, often of the tinfoil helmet type. There is a heavy strain of anti-intellectualism amongst them, and their literary heroine is the worst writer, and wretched philosopher, in the English language -- Ayn Rand.
These tinfoil libertarian populists love hyperbole, but they do not recognise it as such; neither do they recognise self-seving hypocrisy. The Sysacks have made and lettered signs for a livelihood. Nancy has made a couple of errors here, perhaps the older signs were lettered by Russell. Well, we have come accustomed to have errant spelling by Republicans/Teabaggers.
This billboard is in Old Brooklyn of Cleveland. Brooklyn is one of the five boroughs of New York City. At the end of the year, he is leaving the office of mayor after twelve years, and three successful elections. Michael Bloomberg is the seventh richest person in the United States.
postscriptum: Two of the four Koch brothers are richer than Bloomberg. David was the vice president on the Libertarian ticket in 1980. They, as did their their father before them, fund national entities of the extreme political 'right'.
Oskar Neisinger *1919, 1985† of Würzburg had been an underground leader of Catholic youth during the war. He became an academic. Quoting him, “Lächerlichkeit tötet nicht immer. Aber es kann tödlich werden, wenn ein Volk die Lächerlichkeit politischer Narren übersieht und das für ernst nimmt, was eigentlich im allgemeinen Gelächter untergehen müsste.”
Ridicule does not always slay. But it can be deadly when a people overlook the ridiculousness of political fools and take seriously what should actually be drowned by common laughter.