Martin Niemöller (1892-1984) was a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.
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.
You see how it all begins, very slowly. Nothing is taken from us quickly it seems it is always taken from the other person. As long as it is the other, we sit back content to let it happen.
That’s why I suggest that we must be vigilant in protecting our rights and that the small encroachments on our rights must be noticed and talked about and opposed. When I say our rights, I mean the rights we have come to know and expect as Americans. It is our sacred obligation to see that these are passed on to our children and our children’s children.
John Donne wrote the poem which most know: No Man Is An Island. He talked about connections and concluded with the words:
“Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.”
Substitute the word “loss of rights” for “death” and you’ll understand what I am trying to get across in writing of the duty to protect ourselves from the Government.
Some have suggested I protest too much about the increases in our police force telling me these are our neighbors. But history has shown that the police states of the past were made up of neighbors and not strangers. Where did the Nazi get its forces? What about the Khmer Rouge? Cultural Revolution? Stalin’s Great Purge?
That one is our neighbor guarantees nothing. When law breaks down it even becomes neighbors who turned on neighbor, each one fighting for survival sometimes urged on by a government. That is why we must be ever alert in protecting our rights so that it never comes to that in America because we are such a diverse people.
We have to especially guard against the following in line with the party politics. When the NY Times wrote about the extra scrutiny by the IRS of filings by conservative organizations, the most popular comments to the NY Times article selected by the readers were those that said something to the effect, “so what, the Republicans would do it to.” Here the IRS did something clearly wrong and some were unable to condemn it because it might have an adverse effect on or was done by their own party. (I’d note President Obama had no problem condemning it.)
We’ve must go back to a basic notion of right and wrong. A wrong is a wrong no matter who does it. We should not look at who did it to make our decisions.
This is all my way of getting to the gist of this post. The NY Times wrote about the Department of Justice (DOJ) seizing the records of more than 20 telephone lines of AP reporters. It was done by subpoena issued out of a prosecution office. It was in the form of a general search in the face of the Constitutional demand that searches be specifically aimed. It was equivalent to going through all fifty apartments in an apartment building because the person with the contraband was seen entering that residence.
If the DOJ believed there is some evidence that an AP reporter may have done something wrong it can’t search all the AP phones. It must narrow its search and if it can’t do that then it has no right to seize records of innocent people. Our executive agencies like the DOJ are not supposed to go on fishing expeditions.
Much of the mainstream media is upset at the DOJ. If it examined its prior actions perhaps it will realize that its silence when it came to other acts by the DOJ only encouraged the DOJ to take that bold step. Many have noted that the Obama Administration has been aggressively pursuing people leaking information. It has indicted twice as many leakers as all other prior administrations combined. No one complained at this chilling effect on people who see something wrong in the government and desire to expose it.
In this blog we’ve talked about outrageous government actions that have happened. We commented on how none of the mainstream media seem to notice preferring to shower the DOJ and FBI with praise, always finding justifications for their actions. Because of this attitude the DOJ has pushed the envelope even further. The reaction to this is even tepid. The DOJ is telling all the media organizations that any calls they make are subject to being secretly examined by it.
The mainstream media did not speak out when other people were being picked on by the DOJ. It prefers to maintain a close relationship with it. One paper currying favor and access outrageously named the U.S Attorney in Boston as Bostonian of the year and could hardly suggest a reason for doing it.
The media has now seen the result of its thinking of its own good and not of that of the general society. Now it will be interesting to see what happens to this quisling group. Will it more than ever it fall in line; or will it protest against DOJ overreaching.
One reporter seeing what happens is reminded of the Stasi, the East German secret police. The DOJ has taken advantage of the media’s passivity. The DOJ just took one small step toward intimidating the media; this is one giant step into taking away our rights.