I Will Stand Up For You If You Stand Up For Me

I Was Silent When They Came for You … So There Was No One Left to Help When They Came for Me

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 declared that they could assassinate U.S. citizens living on U.S. soil without any due process of law
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.

Inspired by the poem First They Came by Martin Niemöller, which was written about the Nazis.

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

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