"In Germany, they came first for the Communists…"
Pastor Martin Niemöller wrote this famous poem as a reaction to the inactivity of the German intellectuals leading up to the Nazi regime and its brutal repressions. And the last thing I am interested in is more mongering of fear…but just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean….
Power has learned a thing or three since those ham-handed days, but the end result is no less chilling. Speaking as someone who was maced and beaten by seven Des Moines, Iowa cops back when the last criminal administration was in power, 1969, there have been a few occurences lately that have taken my breath away. In my case, it was five in the morning and I was walking back to my apartment off campus, a half block away from it, actually, when I was stopped, maced and beaten, my shirt torn off me, and I was unceremoniously stuffed in the back of a police cruiser and taken to …a mental hospital. They told my parents I was "crazed on drugs and climbing trees." In court, I was charged with "resisting arrest and simulating intoxication" (actually the bailiff misspoke and said "resisting intoxication and simulating arrest" to which I almost blurted out a "guilty" plea! Let me just say this…I was, as they say, in an "altered state" but I assure you, I wasn’t climbing trees. They lied. And they scared the shit out of my parents so they would put a lid on me.
In any event, while the corporate media gives us their happy talk and our dose of Daily Fear, ("BE AFRAID! BE VERY AFRAID"…of toys, cholesterol, terrorists, good food, bad food, identity theft, dogs, cats, global warming, doom, gloom…I sometimes think the only reason some of these are getting any coverage is because they’re scary and serve their larger purposes…or sometimes it’s not "be afraid" it’s "those pesky celebs!" and we’re fed a steady diet of high fructose celebrity simple syrup)…there seems to be a growing threat against free speech. Back when the Republicrats had their convention here in New York, our billionaire mayor refused to allow a peaceful assembly of dissenters to gather in the Great Lawn or the Sheeps Meadow of Central Park, putting up some lame excuse about the grass.
And while most magazines, even in the Gay community (where media is slowly but inexorably being transformed by the attrition of market failure and bankruptcy or being gobbled up into conglomerate corporate blandness)…heck, especially in the Gay community…I mean, even I was almost distracted with our friend Malcolm Boyd being named to yet another "Top 10 List! Top 40 List! Top 100"…you fill in the number…how much bread and circus does it take to glaze over the eyes of a people? How many Brittney stories? How many O.J. stories? How many celebrity weddings? Even the Advocate list, a pale attempt at depth and history, ended up being more a celebration of fame mistaken for influence. Among the top ten, of that list of "Top 40 Influential Gays," there’s Elton John, Ellen Degeneres and Rosie O’Donnell, inane, self-absorbed celebrities who basically hid in their plush-lined closets and denied beng Gay for years…thirty years after Stonewall, mind you…until it became a convenient career move.
Boy…now that’s a hero! Extra ham on mine, please.
But a steady diet of processed sugar and processed news (have you noticed how all the networks always seem to have the same stories on the same days? They Decide…You Abide) is bound to blur and confuse after a while. And that’s the point. Isn’t it? You’re just too groggy to lift your head off the couch and say, hey…wait a minute…
I wrote about the cop threatening the silly spectator at Farm Aid. What great crime was he masterminding? Strolling…skipping, actually, back and forth a couple of times in the background of a television interview being carried out in a field of 30,000 people, lifting his shirt! Momma save the children! Like we’ve never seen that on the evening news. How dare he?! And without any prompting or so much as a request from the news people (Faux…er, Fox News, actually), Johnny-On-The-Law yanked Mr. Silly out of camera range and clearly threatened him with his wagging finger and god knows what else. Mr. Silly’s friends quickly spirited him away, calming him down. His face was pale with rage.
And now we have this student (it’s always the students, isn’t it?) in Orlando, at Florida University (and no…that’s not an oxymoron) being tasered…TASERED!…for having the impertinence to ask pointed questions of John Kerry (I believe one of them was "Aren’t you and the President members of the same secret society at Yale? Skull and Bones?…and yes…they are.) The clips, all over YouTube, are pretty frightening with him being hustled out…incredibly, all the while Kerry saying "That’s all right. I’ll answer…let me answer his question,"… so Kerry isn’t asking to have him removed….this was an independent decision by campus Rent-A-Cops it seems.)
But this isn’t the scary part. The scary thing, from my perspective, is how the student is being demonized. Nice work this morning, Lauer, way to go after the lawyer of this kid. Matt Lauer questioned the student’s lawyer this morning like he was O.J. Simpson, pushing him (with his "serious face" on) with questions about "Is this guy a student? A campus loudmouth? Or a political agitator?" …like, how dare he ask those questions!!? Doesn’t he know what questions we’re supposed to ask and which ones we’ve all agreed to steer clear of? jeez, man…get professional, you know? Honestly, I think Matt Lauer saw his job flash before his eyes there …and he was scared. Where in the world is Matt Lauer coming from?
Almost all the stories are not about the over-reaction (to be kind) of the over-armed campus police (the justification, of course, being Virginia Tech…like the problem there was "not enough guns on campus") but about whether or not the student was an agitator? How dare he continue to ask questions about the stealing of a Presidential election? Isn’t that all settled? Can’t we move on!?
I hear this morning he’s being charged with "resisting arrest and disturbing the peace."
Peace? What peace?
Let’s not all forget that the U.S. government is capable of this and a helluva lot more. I have two words for you…Kent State. They weren’t tasering then…they were using bullets. Four dead in Ohio…
One thought on “Martin Niemöller, where are you?”
Thanks for stating the truth with such fearlessness. I am empowered by reading it.