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 for me.”
6 people killed in Oak Creek, Wisconsin because they were Sikh
9 people killed in Charleston, South Carolina because they were black
49 people killed in Orlando, Florida because they were gay
4 people injured in Washington, D.C. because they were Republican
11 people killed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania because they were Jewish
These people were worshiping, playing baseball, enjoying an evening at a club with friends when they were attacked by people filled with fear and hatred. These deaths took place under democratic and republican presidents. Our current president did not teach them to hate or ask them to kill, but he did give them a voice. These people, the White Supremacists, felt marginalized, ignored and afraid that the life they built was fading away. Suddenly they were being listened to, agreed with in certain areas and wooed for their precious votes. Suddenly, their voices were becoming louder and their hatred more intense because they realized they were not alone in their fears. The most unstable of these people began to believe that they would be doing the country a favor if they exterminated those who were different. This they believe will help to “make America great again.”
Others believe the thoughts they used to quietly think to themselves are now okay to speak loudly enough to be heard, so they demand identification from black people trying to enter their own homes and yell at people of different nationalities when they converse in their own language. Life has become uncomfortable for us all, and soon there will be no one left to speak for us.
I try very hard not to use this format to push the agenda that I believe in. Instead I present both sides of most issues, even when I lean heavily towards one side. Today I will push my agenda loudly and strongly. PLEASE VOTE on Tuesday. Whether you are a Republican, Democrat or Independent, it is time to speak out. Research each candidate carefully, and VOTE for the one who is strongly and clearly against hatred. Vote for the one who believes in equality. Don’t go party line this election unless your candidate has proven himself to be a humanitarian.
Not only should you VOTE on Tuesday, but please do what you can to make sure everyone is able to VOTE without intimidation. Those who win an election by suppressing the votes of those who would vote against them are not winners...they are cheaters. If you know that a candidate was instrumental in vote suppression, then use your VOTE to change the outcome. If you see a candidate backing something that he/she knows is morally wrong because it is the “party line,” maybe it is time to teach him/her that he/she is supposed to be representing us, not the party.
This is not, and should never be, a republican or democratic issue. Our country is based on a two party system so we can have a choice, not so we can form two opposing gangs. Even the Jets and the Sharks (West Side Story) eventually found out that more is accomplished with teamwork than with turf wars. They had to learn that while carrying the bodies of their friends. We have seen too many bodies over the last few years. I will speak out! Please let us learn our lessons and do what is right in the voting booths. PLEASE VOTE WITH YOUR HEAD AND YOUR HEART THIS TUESDAY.
Instead of a book review I am including the following poem in my blog. My former students will know it well, and it is time for us all to heed its message.
The Hangman by Maurice Ogden
Into our town the Hangman came.
Smelling of gold and blood and flame
and he paced our bricks with a diffident air
and built his frame on the courthouse square
The scaffold stood by the courthouse side,
Only as wide as the door was wide;
A frame as tall, or little more,
Than the capping sill of the courthouse door
And we wondered, whenever we had the time.
Who the criminal, what the crime.
That Hangman judged with the yellow twist
of knotted hemp in his busy fist.
And innocent though we were, with dread,
We passed those eyes of buckshot lead:
Till one cried: "Hangman, who is he
For whom you raise the gallows-tree?"
Then a twinkle grew in the buckshot eye,
And he gave us a riddle instead of reply:
"He who serves me best," said he,
"Shall earn the rope on the gallows-tree."
And he stepped down, and laid his hand
On a man who came from another land
And we breathed again, for another's grief
At the Hangman's hand was our relief
And the gallows-frame on the courthouse lawn
By tomorrow's sun would be struck and gone.
So we gave him way, and no one spoke.
Out of respect for his Hangman's cloak.
The next day's sun looked mildly down
On roof and street in our quiet town
And stark and black in the morning air,
The gallows-tree on the courthouse square.
And the Hangman stood at his usual stand
With the yellow hemp in his busy hand;
With his buckshot eye and his jaw like a pike
And his air so knowing and business like.
And we cried, "Hangman, have you not done
Yesterday with the alien one?"
Then we fell silent, and stood amazed,
"Oh, not for him was the gallows raised."
He laughed a laugh as he looked at us:
"...Did you think I'd gone to all this fuss
To hang one man? That's a thing I do
To stretch a rope when the rope is new."
Then one cried "Murder!" One cried "Shame!"
And into our midst the Hangman came
To that man's place. "Do you hold," said he,
"With him that was meant for the gallows-tree?"
And he laid his hand on that one's arm.
And we shrank back in quick alarm,
And we gave him way, and no one spoke
Out of fear of his Hangman's cloak.
That night we saw with dread surprise
The Hangman's scaffold had grown in size.
Fed by the blood beneath the chute
The gallows-tree had taken root;
Now as wide, or a little more,
Than the steps that led to the courthouse door,
As tall as the writing, or nearly as tall,
Halfway up on the courthouse wall.
The third he took-we had all heard tell
Was a user and infidel, and
"What," said the Hangman "have you to do
With the gallows-bound, and he a Jew?"
And we cried out, "Is this one he
Who has served you well and faithfully?"
The Hangman smiled: "It's a clever scheme
To try the strength of the gallows-beam."
The fourth man's dark, accusing song
Had scratched out comfort hard and long;
And what concern, he gave us back.
"Have you for the doomed--the doomed and black?"
The fifth. The sixth. And we cried again,
"Hangman, Hangman, is this the last?"
"It's a trick," he said, "That we hangmen know
For easing the trap when the trap springs slow.""
And so we ceased, and asked no more,
As the Hangman tallied his bloody score:
And sun by sun, and night by night,
The gallows grew to monstrous height.
The wings of the scaffold opened wide
Till they covered the square from side to side:
And the monster cross-beam, looking down.
Cast its shadow across the town.
Then through the town the Hangman came
And called in the empty streets my name-
And I looked at the gallows soaring tall
And thought, "There is no one left at all
For hanging." And so he calls to me
To help pull down the gallows-tree.
And I went out with right good hope
To the Hangman's tree and the Hangman's rope.
He smiled at me as I came down
To the courthouse square through the silent town.
And supple and stretched in his busy hand
Was the yellow twist of the strand.
And he whistled his tune as he tried the trap
And it sprang down with a ready snap.
And then with a smile of awful command
He laid his hand upon my hand.
"You tricked me. Hangman!" I shouted then.
"That your scaffold was built for other men...
And I no henchman of yours," I cried,
"You lied to me. Hangman. foully lied!"
Then a twinkle grew in the buckshot eye,
"Lied to you? Tricked you?" he said. "Not I.
For I answered straight and I told you true"
The scaffold was raised for none but you.
For who has served me more faithfully
Then you with your coward's hope?" said he,
"And where are the others that might have stood
Side by your side in the common good?"
"Dead," I whispered, and sadly
"Murdered," the Hangman corrected me:
"First the alien, then the Jew...
I did no more than you let me do."
Beneath the beam that blocked the sky.
None had stood so alone as I.
And the Hangman strapped me, and no voice there
Cried "Stay!" for me in the empty square.