“MRFF Client #1” Reflects on the words of Christian Minister Martin Niemöller – “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist…”

Published On: February 27, 2024|Categories: Top News|1 Comment|
Black and white photograph of Christian Minister Martin Niemöller speaking to a group of people.

From: MRFF Client #1’s E-mail Address Withheld
Subject:  I am MRFF Client #1 
Date: February 26, 2024 at 6:55:25 PM MST
To: Michael L Weinstein <[email protected]>

Everyone today should reflect on the prophetic words of the Christian minister, Martin Niemöller, when he penned the epic words of his 1946 poem following the Allied victory of World War II. In his poem, Niemöller showcased the inherent guilt of those who saw the rise in Nazi fascism but felt there was nothing he could really do by speaking up, so they said nothing. The rest, as the saying goes, is history….

If history gives Donald Trump credit for any singular act as a President of the United States decades from now, it will almost certainly be to grant him the credit due for being the first US president to see the thread within the American fabric that could yield him great political power by simply pulling on it to tear apart families, communities and societies along the extant cultural divide of modern times. Every US president before Trump, regardless of race, class or political party, articulated a narrative of unity whenever given the opportunity. The greatest of American presidents achieved national unity, even if posthumously. Every successful military commander knows rule #1 is to “do nothing to divide your command.” As the Commander-in-Chief of the US Armed Forces, the highest commander of the military, Trump clearly missed the day they taught leadership in school and now misses no opportunity to spread hatred and vitriol. Truth of any kind no longer has any hope in the world of MAGA Republicans or their propaganda machine, Fox News. This is not a political statement, but rather a statement of fact.

For those who do not study history, let me say it takes time —years if not decades — for a fascist leader to gain his political footing and learn which political levers to pull for maximal effect. Trump has now figured out the lever that is working best for his political base is one of Christian Nationalism. If you look at the doctrine in which true Christians believe, they are rooted in love for one another, kindness towards the poor and the celebration of peace. Christian Nationalists, however, use the “christian” banner for effect, but they bastardize the concept by using it to justify their hatred, vitriol and loathing for people who think differently than them. How any intelligent US citizen can observe the goings-on over the past decade and think otherwise remains incorrigible to me and the 90% of Americans who, by Gallup polling, agree. General Mark Milley, Trump’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stood between Trump’s fascist inclinations while President while the rest of us slept well at night completely oblivious from the danger we faced on a day-to-day basis of having our daily lives turned upside down by war. We may not be so fortunate next time, as Trump has now learned that lesson as well. 

Whereas Niemöller’s fascist insights looked to the supremacy of White Anglo-Saxon Protestants, Trump’s fascism is indelibly tied to the hatred of those who don’t conform to the cultural norms of the bifurcated society in which we now live. Today we use words like “woke” and “anti-woke” to draw the battle lines, and politicians are seizing on the opportunity to enhance their political power by creating further increases in the chasm between the cultural camps imbuing hate, distrust and disrespect for fellow Americans.

The parallels between the fascism of the 1930s and the rise of fascism in today’s Republican Party are undeniable. It is up to you to stand up, speak and oppose this clear and present danger to American democracy. To reflect on the prophetic words of Niemöller:

First 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 for me.

It is time for everyone to speak up. There are far more of us who see the American ideal as one of diversity of perspective, respect for our fellow countrymen, respect for the rule of law and compassion for those less fortunate than we are. This ideal not only allows, but demands that ideas be debated in the hallowed halls of our political institutions. As American citizens, the most ardent power we have is to exercise our voices and to vote, and for those who choose not to, the results could be quite perilous for you. Life’s about choices, and choices have consequences. So do elections.

Let us all be thankful for the brave men like Mikey Weinstein who have been speaking out since 2004 for all of us. If you are getting his emails and ignoring them, perhaps you should pause and reflect on the world without him and the other Martin Niemöllers of today.

Mikey, on behalf of the 87,000 clients of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, thank you for all you do. Your life is much worse because of what you do, and much better for so many in uniform that have no voice, but for you….

Signed,

MRFF Client #1’s name, location and all other ID information withheld
(I became MRFF’s 1st client circa February 4, 2004)

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One Comment

  1. Ironmoped March 5, 2024 at 4:03 pm

    Powerful message!

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