The quote appears in the Congressional Record 14 October 1968, page 31636:
When Hitler attacked the Jews I was not a Jew, therefore I was not concerned. And when Hitler attacked the Catholics, I was not a Catholic, and therefore, I was not concerned. And when Hitler attacked the unions and industrialists, I was not a member of the unions and I was not concerned. Then, Hitler attacked me and the Protestant church — and there was nobody left to be concerned.
Although there are some variations that have been published on that famous quotation, the words shown above are the exact ones that Niemoeller spoke in Congress.
While the quote encapsulates the movements of Hitler and World War II it is also the most succinct description of demoguoguery I know. It is demogoguery that leads to the attrocities of the world’s dictators and we see it happening still today.
You can insert any identifying word into any part of that quote from Neimoller and it will still mean the same thing… not to belittle the Holocaust, mind, but to point out that if no one truly learns the lesson of that time it will happen, and is happening, again. Not to mention the fact that the Jews still seem to be hated by most of the rest of the world.
Yesterday, Erick posted a blog entitled: At What Point Do People Revolt? Nominally, soap was mentioned because soap, that innocuous substance you use for cleaning yourself and other things, was being legislated in Washington. There were a lot of posts on there belittling those of us who are angry over this encroachment of government into our lives, ridiculing the idea of being upset over soap legislation; and completely missing the point.
Everything about the individual and their private lives is now open to be legislated, even our speech. We cannot criticize the President because it is now hate speech. This wasn’t a problem during the last President’s administration, so what changed? “They” call it progressivism. I call it unrestrained demogoguery.
Nor is it only conservative columnists. When you get the advice this guy got, you really have to wonder, as Erick asked yesterday: At what point do people revolt?
So I’m told I should shut up. I make my living in the Hollywood community, and Hollywood is by and large run by Liberals. I’m told I need to stay quiet when the Left has their way over issues that affect my daily life. I’m told I need to learn how to get along with the Left, learn how to compromise. I need to be more open-minded. I need to be more tolerant.
Perhaps soap isn’t the point at which people revolt but one wonders how much demogoguery it will take before it happens. The Jews were almost annihilated and promised themselves, never again.
Take your time, replace the descriptors in the quotes with some of your own. No matter what you try, the meaning will remain the same because it’s not about the who at any given time but about the process.
“Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it.” I’m not real keen on repeating that kind of history myself but I have a funny feeling that, as a nation, we’re going to in spite of my personal preferences.