As the German Lutheran pastor, Martin Niemoller, once put it after World War II: “First they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the socialists and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist. 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 out for me.”

Henry G. Marks

Henry G. Marks

And perhaps now, might someone say (after we arrive at where it is we may all presently be headed): “First they came for a woman’s half-century universal, Constitutional right to bodily autonomy and privacy, but I was not a woman and I did not speak out. Then they came for the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry, but I was a straight white male and I did not speak out. Then they came for the rights of the entire LGTBQ community and again, I was none of these things, and I did not speak out.

Then they came for the right of “interracial” couples to marry, but my children and I were already married and I did not speak out. And then they came for African Americans, Hispanics, Latinos (no, I won’t say Latinx) and Muslims and (recent) immigrants, and again, because I was none of these I did not speak out. And then they came for Medicaid and Medicare, but t I was not old or poor and I did not speak out. And then they came for voting rights and Democrats, but I was a registered Independent and I had no interest in politics, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the books, the libraries, the free press, the teachers. But I was not a teacher, or a journalist or writer, and I did not speak out.”

Finally, they came for my adult daughter, charging her with a Class A misdemeanor crime for buying a contraceptive. And at last, they came for me, a straight, white Christian male, with accusations that I was just a CINO (Christian In Name Only) who resisted publicly reciting a Pledge of Alliance to the “Red, (mostly) WHITE, and Blue” Christian Flag, or singing “Onward Christian Soldiers (marching as to war)” outside of my church. Of course, my real crime was having become (far too late in the morning) “woke” to the injustice visited on of all of the above.

But by then then there was no one left who could speak up or out for me or mine.

Henry G. Marks, of Frankfort, is a retired state employee. He can be emailed at henrygmarks@aol.com.

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