From Crooks & Liars:
Keith's Special Comment on the "inaccurately described ground zero mosque" where he started things off by reading from Pastor Martin Niemöller's "First They Came..." statement.
"THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
THEN THEY CAME for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up."
I'm sure all the right wing blogs will be going crazy accusing Olbermann of being over the top here but he explained why he thought Niemöller's comments were relevant today. From the Wikipedia page quoted above a little background on Niemöller:
Martin Niemöller was a German pastor and theologian born in Lippstadt, Germany, in 1892. Niemöller was an anti-Communist and supported Hitler's rise to power at first. But when Hitler insisted on the supremacy of the state over religion, Niemöller became disillusioned. He became the leader of a group of German clergymen opposed to Hitler. Unlike Niemöller, they gave in to the Nazis' threats. Hitler personally detested Niemöller and in 1937 had him arrested and eventually confined in the Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps. Niemöller was released in 1945 by the Allies. He continued his career in Germany as a clergyman and as a leading voice of penance and reconciliation for the German people after World War II. His statement, sometimes presented as a poem, is well-known, frequently quoted, and is a popular model for describing the dangers of political apathy, as it often begins with specific and targeted fear and hatred which soon escalates out of control.
Given the over the top rhetoric coming from the Republicans and Fox News whether it be race-baiting of African Americans or illegal immigrants or Muslims along with the terrible state our economy is in right now, I would agree with Keith that it is not out of bounds to remind the public of just how dangerous that kind of fear mongering can be. It might be different if we didn't have one television network along with right wing radio devoted to beating that drum 24/7 reaching millions of Americans with their propaganda day after day.
Partial transcript below the fold and h/t to StuHunter at DailyKOS for part of it.
Olbermann: Niemöller survived the death camps. In quoting him I make no direct comparison between the attempts to supress the building of a Muslim religious center in downtown Manhattan and the unimaginable nightmare of the Holocaust. Such a comparison is ludicrous, at least it is now, but Niemöller was not warning of the Holocaust. He was warning of a seeming rational society to condone the gradual stoking of enmity towards an ethnic or religious group, or more than one, warning that the building up of a collective pool of national fear and hate, warning of the moment in which the need to purge out strips even the parameters of the original scapegoating, when new victims are needed because a country has begun to run on a horrible fuel of hatred; magnified, amplified and multiplied by politicians and zealots within government and without.
Niemöller was not warning of the Holocaust. He was warning of the thousand steps before a Holocaust became inevitable. If we are merely at the first of those steps again today here it is one step too close.
Yet in a country dedicated to freedom, forces have gathered to blow out of all proportion the construction of a minor community center to transform it into a training ground for terrorists and an insult to the victims of 9-11 and a tribute to Medieval Muslims' subjugation of the west.
There is no training ground for terrorists. There is no insult to the victims of 9-11. There is no tribute to Medieval subjugation of the west. There is in fact NO GROUND ZERO MOSQUE.
What was that about Iraq? Why did we go into Iraq? To free the world, and especially Iraq's citizens of the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. That's its supporters defense of the Iraq invasion of this hour. Well who lives in Iraq? Muslims. I hate to reveal this to anybody on the right who doesn't know this but when they say Iraq is 65% Shia and 32% Sunni you do know that Shia and Sunni are forms of the Muslim religion, right?
We sacrificed 4,415 of our military personnel in Iraq to save Muslims, and there are thousands of us still there tonight to protect Muslims, but we don't want Muslims to open a combination culinary school and prayer space in Manhattan.
From the beginning of this nation we have fought prejudice and religious intolerance and our greatest enemy stupidity exploited by rapacious politicians. It is only 50 years now, this month since Americans publicly and urgently warned their countryman not to support a presidential candidate because he was Roman Catholic. He would bow to the will not of the American people, but of the Pope. He would be a papist. He would be the agent of a foreign state. His name was John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
Despite the nobility of our founding and the indefatigable efforts of all of our generations, there have always been those who would happily sacrifice our freedoms, our principals to ward off the latest unprecedented threat, the latest unbeatable "outsiders". But once again at 45 Park Place, we are being told to sell our birth right. To feed the maw of xenophobia and vengeance and mob rule.
The terrorists who destroyed the buildings from which you could only see 45 Park Place as a dot on the ground, wanted to force us to change our country, to become more like the ones (they) knew. What better way could we honor the dead at the World Trade Center than to do the terrorists heavy lifting for them.
Do you think 45 Park Place is where it ends? The moment this monstrous betrayal of our America gained the slightest traction, the next goal was unveiled. "No more building permits for any Mosques in this country" brayed the man from the euphemistically named American Families Association. Of course, he said maybe the permits could be granted if the congregation was "willing to publicly denounce the Koran."
They came first for the building permits....