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Leefstyl | Lifestyle > Gay > Artikels | Features

First they came

Cobus Fourie - 2009-12-17

The title might sound familiar to readers and many versions of this profound modern-day, apotheosis-like statement appeared almost everywhere after World War II. Pastor Niemoller, like many German intellectuals, declared their effective though unintended complicity in the holocaust by remaining silent. The text as it probably first appeared, provided by The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, reads as follows:

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out 
Because I was not a Communist
Then 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 out for me

One version of the profound statement appeared online by Behind the Aegis as the incognito blogger laments the Republican Party in 2004 in the US and the need to stop the growing fascism which can be seen in the Patriot Act (also see Find Law, Epic.org and ACLU):

If [George W] Bush were to remain in power, we could see a new version of Pastor Niemoller’s poem. It may go something like this:

First they came for the “liberals” by eliminating the right of dissent through “free-speech” zones that continued to get further and further from the administration and grew smaller and smaller.
But I am no liberal! So, I grumble at the TV and on the internet.

Then they came for the media by allowing the Fairness Doctrine to continue to be non-existent and creating a propaganda machine run by the ruling party.
But I am not a member of the media! So, I grumble at the TV and swear off the news.

Then, they get brazen, and come for the gays by appointing right-wing judges who reinstate the crimes-against-nature and sodomy laws, thereby turning consenting adult relationships into criminal acts, costing people their jobs, homes, and lives.
But I am not gay! So, I grumble at the TV and vow to send money to gay rights groups.

Then they come for immigrants by making asylum impossible and closing off our borders through legislation.
But, I am no immigrant, at least not a first-generation one! So, I grumble at the TV and vow to join Amnesty International.

Then they come for me and I can’t speak up for myself because I am not in a free speech zone. I can’t get the news to cover my arrest except as a dissident. I find the laws that the right-wing judges have created now apply to me through vague and unconstitutional language. I can’t even flee the country because the borders are closed! 

Leaving me wondering … how did this happen? I didn’t see any signs!

Some human rights and Pink rights advocates have been deploring the general public’s nonchalance and the apathy in the Pink Community for a very long time and many had the bittersweet (mainly bitter) moment of doing the “I told you so” dance. History has the habit of repeating itself – it is inexplicable and we are, by the looks of things, inextricably linked to the fatalism.

First came Zuma’s God Squad as I reported on in “Gay marriage is not up for auction”.

Then came the Ugandan Genocide Bill of 2009 as also reported on this forum under the title “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”.

Then, as the pressure of global disgruntlement increased and protests proliferated at Ugandan embassies and high consulates, the Religious Right in America, who has been behind this insidious piece of legislation, had to quickly do some PR work.

It was reported by Truth Wins Out that the underground militant and extremist Christian organisation called The Family or The Fellowship was behind the draconian measures as they fought their proxy war in Africa by exporting homophobia.

Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church, one of the most influential clergymen in America, sent, although not complicit, a letter to the clergy of Uganda to denounce the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 and also posted a YouTube video as reported on Pinknews.co.uk. He said: “While we can never deny or water down what God’s Word clearly teaches about sexuality, at the same time the church must stand to protect the dignity of all individuals – as Jesus did and commanded all of us to do. The potential law is unjust, extreme and un-Christian toward homosexuals ... all life, no matter how humble or broken, whether unborn or dying, is precious to God.” He also urged Ugandan pastors to publicly condemn the bill.

Flabbergasting it was to see the Holy See, more commonly known as the Vatican, release a statement deploring the Ugandan Bill. Truth Wins Out reports:

As stated during the debate of the General Assembly last year, the Holy See continues to oppose all grave violations of human rights against homosexual persons, such as the use of the death penalty, torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. The Holy See also opposes all forms of violence and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons, including discriminatory penal legislation which undermines the inherent dignity of the human person.

As raised by some of the panellists today, the murder and abuse of homosexual persons are to be confronted on all levels, especially when such violence is perpetrated by the State. While the Holy See’s position on the concepts of sexual orientation and gender identity remains well known, we continue to call on all States and individuals to respect the rights of all persons and to work to promote their inherent dignity and worth.

Now this is a remarkable statement by the same body that a year ago had said that “saving humanity from homosexual or transsexual behavior was just as important as saving the rainforest from destruction ...” No wonder that I am so flabbergasted. It took the looming second holocaust to change the tune of the Holy See. I wonder what they would have said if this Ugandan Genocide Bill had already been passed.

Yet, Bahati, the Member of Parliament who brought this putrid bill before the Ugandan parliament, is not of any intent to back down or “water the bill down” as reported by Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out. Bahati also rejected Rev Rick Warren’s plea to eliminate the bill after the televangelist called it “unchristian”. “It’s unfortunate that a man of God who has inspired many people across the world can give in to pressure and disappoint them,” said Bahati.

All those Americans who are complicit in the Ugandan Genocide Bill should step up and undo their horrid onslaught on humankind.

I stand by Edmund Burke’s profound statement, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”