Silence is the Death of Liberty

First they tortured a U.S. citizen and gang member …
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a criminal

Then they tortured a U.S. citizen, whistleblower and navy veteran
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a whistleblower

Then they locked up an attorney for representing accused criminals …
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a defense attorney

Then they arrested a young father walking with his son simply because he told Dick Cheney that he disagreed with his policies …
I remained silent;
I’ve never talked to an important politician

Then they said an entertainer should be killed because she questioned the government’s version of an important historical event …
I remained silent;
I wasn’t an entertainer

Then they arrested people for demanding that Congress hold the President to the Constitution …
I did not speak out;
I’ve never protested in Washington

Then they arrested a man for holding a sign …
I held my tongue;
I’ve never held that kind of sign

Then they broke a minister’s leg because he wanted to speak at a public event …
I said nothing;
I wasn’t a religious leader

Then they shot a student with a taser gun and arrested him for asking a question of a politician at a public event …
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a student

Then they declared that they could label U.S. citizens as “unlawful enemy combatants” and imprison them indefinitely – and even assassinate them – all without trial
I remained silent;
I assumed I wasn’t on a list

When they came for me,
Everyone was silent;
there was no one left to speak out.

Inspired by the poem First They Came by Martin Niemöller, which was written about the Nazis.

I originally wrote this poem in 2007. I have updated it with the additional verse about assassinations.

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