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.
–Pastor Martin Niemöller
This week, the leading Republican presidential candidate advocated barring all Muslims from entering the U.S. Announcing his position at a campaign rally and defending it in media interviews, he said, “We have no choice.”
As Americans and as human beings, we always have a choice. We can be ruled by our irrational fears or our rational minds. We can do what everyone else is doing, even when we know it is wrong, or we can take the risk of doing what we know to be right. We can be like Pastor Niemöller and the millions of Americans who silently went along with slavery, Jim Crow, the internment of Japanese Americans and countless other wrongs because they feared the consequences of speaking out, or we can be like the brave few who resisted.
Many already fight back against bigotry. Soon, all of us – especially those of us who aren’t Muslim or members of another targeted group – may have no choice but to take sides.
Donald Trump is not the only candidate saying things that strike many of us as profoundly un-American. Two others – one a sitting U.S. senator and the other the son and brother of former presidents – have urged that the U.S. only admit Syrian refugees who are Christians. Another senator, Marco Rubio, advocated shutting down not only mosques (like Trump) but cafes, diners and even Internet sites “where radicals are being inspired.” First Amendment? What First Amendment?
I therefore offer the following pledge. If you like it, please add your name and share. If you don’t like my wording and prefer to rewrite it, by all means, do so. But whatever you do, think about where this country may be going and prepare to take sides.
PLEDGE OF NONCOOPERATION
If the U.S. government or the government of my state seeks to:
1) bar any lawfully qualified immigrant or visitor from entry because of their religion, race, ethnic background, nationality or membership in any other allegedly “undesirable” sector of the population, or
2) detain, intern, imprison or expel any U.S. resident because of their religion, race, ethnic background, nationality or membership in any other allegedly “undesirable” sector of the population, or
3) restrict the constitutional rights of any U.S. resident because of their religion, race, ethnic background, nationality or membership in any other allegedly “undesirable” sector of the population,
I will oppose such efforts with every means at my disposal. I will speak. I will protest. I will vote. I will refuse to cooperate or assist in any such policies, even if such resistance should place me at risk of arrest or imprisonment. And I will do my best to provide aid, comfort and assistance to the victims of such persecution.
Remember, you always have a choice.