It Is Always The Tactic Of Governments That Seek To Abuse Power To Select The Most Marginalized And Easily Demonized Targets In The First Instance

“Find Out Just What Any People Will Quietly Submit To And You Have The Exact Measure Of The Injustice And Wrong Which Will Be Imposed On Them”

Constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald notes:

It is always the tactic of governments that seek to abuse power to select the most marginalized and easily demonized targets in the first instance (Anwar Awlaki): because they know that once the citizenry cheers for that power on the ground that they dislike the target, the power then becomes institutionalized and impossible to resist when it expands outward, as it always does.

That’s what Thomas Jefferson meant when he wrote: “In questions of power . . . let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” It’s also what Frederick Douglass meant when he warned:

Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.”

Human nature means that once you vest a power in political leaders, once you acquiesce to radical theories, that power will inevitably be abused. The time to object – the only effective time – is when that power theory first takes root, not later when it is finally widespread.

German pastor Martin Niemöller initially supported Hitler.  But he later opposed him, and was imprisoned in the Dachau concentration camp for years.

Niemöller wrote a brilliant poem – First They Came -  about the manner in which Germans allowed Nazi abuses by failing to protest the abuse of “others”.

This is my modern interpretation of Niemöller’s poem …

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 started labeling virtually every innocent and normal behavior as marking Americans as “potential terrorists”
I remained silent;
I didn’t want to be called a terrorist

Then they threw political dissenters in psychiatric wards
I remained silent;
I didn’t want to be seen as crazy

Then they declared that they could label U.S. citizens living on U.S. soil as “unlawful enemy combatants” and imprison them indefinitely without access to any attorney …
I remained silent;
I didn’t want to be labeled an enemy

Then they assassinated an American citizen without  any court trial
And they killed his son because he should have had a “far more responsible father”  …
I remained silent;
I live on American soil

Then they declared that they could assassinate U.S. citizens living on U.S. soil without any due process of law (update) …
I remained silent;
I didn’t want to be on the list

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

I originally wrote this poem in 2007. I have updated it with additional verses as current events have unfolded.

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  • nveric

    “…in political leaders,…”

    Glen this is what must end being printed or even thought of.

    We do not elect anything closely or remotely to a “leader” into an office. “Leaders” are those who dictate orders, not servants of the People. While common observation seems to indicate those elected are indeed dictating orders to subjects, orders to be obeyed and followed without question, perpetuating this falsehood, and an obscene one at that, must end.

    “Leader” and “leaders” are a hate words to free people.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Spartacus-Jones/598323481 Spartacus Jones

    It’s the same old song — you can have just as much freedom as you’re willing to fight for, and not one bit more. Act or be acted upon.

  • http://twitter.com/mrbilldavis Bill Davis

    The Republican Party’s favorite tactic.

    • Roger V

      Really the last five incidents all occurred under the benevolent administration of Dear Leader & last I checked he was a card carrying member of the Democrat party. I guess adopting the Republicans favorite tactic, while notching it up a few levels is a favorite Democrat tactic.Wake the f#ck up both parties suck & want to repeal all your rights. So say something or just become the serf they want you to become. It’s about time that people realized its not a Democrat Vs Republican thing but instead a Washington elite vs average Americans thing.

  • AC

    This started with the false accusations of domestic violence – getting people to go along with false accusations and stripping citizens of their civil rights in a civil court, without a fair hearing before a jury, was the thin edge of the wedge.

    Everything else followed after domestic violence.

    ‘Divide and conquer’

 

 

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