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25 November 2006 @ 05:30 pm
The Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution  

I have heard there is a movement afoot to restore the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution. In honor of this noble movement, I offer the following quotation, which I feel is never inappropriate to repeat even though I'm sure you are all familiar with it:

    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.
    —Reverend Martin Niemoller

 
 
Current Mood: hopefulhopeful
 
 
 
kip_wkip_w on November 26th, 2006 12:06 am (UTC)
Some time ago, I was impressed by a paraphrase of this that I saw in the letters page of the Virginian-Pilot. I don't have the exact text to hand, but I quoted it in RASFF, and now it seems to be one of the buttons Nancy Lebovitz sells, so I'm guessing she got it from me. Here's how the web site where I found it (by googling on the first line) phrases it:

"First they came for the second amendment.
But I said nothing because I wasn't a gun runner.

Then they came for the fourth amendment.
But I didn't object because I wasn't a drug dealer.

Then they came for the sixth amendment.
But I kept quiet because I wasn't guilty.

Then they came for the eighth amendment,
But I was silent because I never thought I'd be sent to jail.

Finally they came for the first amendment.
And by then it was too late to say anything at all."

The last line seems different from what I saw in the Pilot, but I can't remember how the writer put it. Other than that, it seems to be an adequate phrasing of it. Maybe it was "gun owner" instead of "gun runner" originally. (Interestingly, a Google search of groups indicates that I never said it. And here's somebody saying a shorter version of it in 1992, which is probably before I saw it in the paper. Hm.)
DrSdocstrange on November 26th, 2006 03:31 am (UTC)
Nod nod. It's important to remember the first 10 amendments were put forward as a package by a committee that could draw upon a long history of political abuse in both Britain and her colonies for ideas about the potential uses of even limited power. They didn't make them as separate nodules of rights. They form a fabric that would, they hoped, support the Republic. Alas, the amendment proposing that no pay increase for Congresscritters would take effect until after the next election... was rejected.
et in Arcadia egoboo: non-State Actorapostle_of_eris on November 26th, 2006 11:03 pm (UTC)
variants
It can be a bit challenging to find the original of this quotation. Several interests have been added to various versions (e.g., the original does not mention homosexuals).

Besides the Amendments one, my favorite turn is:
When they came for the Trade Unionists, I said "Well, if they refuse to modernize, they're going to get marginalized. Business is business."
When they came for the Family Farmers, I said "Yeah, well, Farm Aid is all well and good, but you just can't complete with economies of scale. Business is business."
When they came for the Auto Workers, I said, "Well, you can't expect to pay benefits when a robot works for free. Business is business."
When they came for the textile workers, I said "You can't compete with the low wages of the World Economy. We'll all be service workers, soon. Business is business."
When they came for the Stock Brokers and the Bankers, I said "Good riddance to a bunch of dishonest moneygrubbers and ne'er do wells. I'd rather trade online. Business is business."
When they came for the local Booksellers and Lumberyards and Hardware Stores and Grocers, I said "Thank goodness that I can pay less through the power of bulk-rate buying. Business is business."
When they came for the Bus Drivers and the Janitors and Truck Drivers and Longshoremen, I said "Well, contract labor saves long-term costs in retirement and health benefits. Have to keep up with the times. Business is business."
And when they finally came for my high tech job, and sent it over to India, there was no one left to speak for me...and now I say "Hello, and welcome to Wal-Mart, we appreciate your business."
-- Fred Henning
Fred A Levy Haskell: Fredcritter eyes onlyfredcritter on November 27th, 2006 01:37 am (UTC)
Re: variants

Indeed. Not to mention that the original is in German. I got this version from Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, Jewish Wisdom: Ethical, Spiritual, and Historical Lessons from the Great Works and Thinkers, William Morrow and Company, Inc., New York, 1994, page 536, and feel reasonably comfortable about its accuracy.

As you say, many changes have been rung upon it over the years—it was a tremendously insightful and powerful statement. Funny, though, that so many people over they years would come to empathize with the Jews.

Oh, you can't be serious, Fred. You're right; I'm not. They're just claiming the mantle of the victim without really empathizing.

gomeza on November 27th, 2006 03:57 am (UTC)
This "Bill of Rights" of which you speak sounds like it would be a good idea.