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December 08, 2008

Martin Niemoller’s Warning

I was glad to see that Chuck Colson is one of the signers of the No Mob Veto ad in the New York Times.  Reading the accompanying article brought to my mind a famous dissident in Nazi Germany, Pastor Martin Niemoller, who felt guilty that he had not done more to oppose the Nazis as they rose to power, and who penned the well-known warning quoted below. I'm not a Mormon, but it doesn't take a genius to figure out that if radical homosexuals are able to intimidate the LDS church into dropping their opposition to gay marriage, then Bible-believing Christians anywhere will be in danger of suffering similar attacks. 

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. 

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Comments

Jason Taylor


There are three things to remember about the Nazis. They were an aberration no one could have forseen and making anologies to them now is like saying one should stay home for fear of being killed by lightning.
The other is that America is not Germany and if tyranny comes it will use words that resonate with Americans.
The third is that everyone thinks they are persecuted. And, that anology can be used by anyone.

Steve

I've never heard of the Mormons backing down from a tussle.

If some group really wanted to neutralize the Mormons, they should slip into the leadership a few bishops from some of the flatline Protestant denominations (which shall remain unnamed in this non-denominational forum, though we all know who they are).

Steve

Jason,
What do you mean they were an aberration?

Their Japanese and Italian allies were the same, except about the Jew stuff. Their Soviet allies were the same, before Hitler forced them to switch sides (it may have been, like Goldberg says, that communists were the greater threat to his power because they were, in fact, so much alike).

Were Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Castro, Pol Pot, Saddam (Baath Party = Arabic Nazis, see history of Baathism) also aberrations?

I guess where an analogy is legitimate or not is a subjective matter of opinion, but there are lessons to be learned from Nazism, and one indisputable lesson is the peril of doing nothing in the face of evil.

Jason Taylor

Both floods and earthquakes kill people but they are still different things.
Bolshevism was a recognized phenomenon. Nazism was in many ways unique, even unlike other fascists. It was not based primarily on institutionalism as Communism was but on a cult of personality, and if Hitler had not been there Nazism would have been far different even if it came to power. It's success was brought about by a combination of political, social, and economic circumstances that were unusual for Central Europe. It's temporary success was inexplicable apart from the operational efficiency of the Wehrmacht. It blazed like a forest fire, and died out the same way.
Hitler was an aberration not in the sense that human evil is an aberration but in the sense that this particular manifestation was brought about by unusual coincidence.

Gina Dalfonzo

We're getting a little off track. The point of the post is standing up for others against persecution, not the precise nature of the persecution.

Jason Taylor

The nature of the persecution is needed to decide how to go about standing up for others under persecution.

Mike Perry

Keep in mind that, although it is disputed whether Niemoller actually said the words in the quote above, they are an accurate statement, not just of Lutheran behavior in the early 1930s, but of Lutheran behavior throughout the 400 years since the Reformation. Frightened by the peasant rebellions and by the lengthy religious wars of the era, the heirs of the Reformation seemed unable to challenge any authoritarian ruler who didn't threaten their own interests. Obedience became a higher virtue for Lutherans much as the "cleanness is next to godliness" of old fashioned Methodism.

That's why I'm delighted that Evangelicals, Catholics and Jews are speaking up against these attacks on Mormans. In the past, Evangelical groups in particular have seemed inclined to ignore any religious freedom issue that didn't directly involve them. I suspect homosexual activists targeted Mormans under the assumption that no other group would come to their defense. They were wrong.

My only regret is that this ad means money for the NY Times. The money might have been better spent on ads on FOX-News. Better to preach to those who are likely to listen.


labrialumn

Jason,
The thing to remember about the National Socialist German Democratic Worker's Party is that it wasn't an aberration. The ideology it held to, deriving from Hegel and Darwin through such post-modern luminaries as Martin Heidegger, Ezra Pound, Derrida and the other deconstructionist/Nazi propagandists is quite common today through out the world. Frequently in America it is called "identity politics". The basic premises are that 1) there is no transcendent objective, signified (no Incarnation, no Bible), that the idea of individual moral responsibility is bourgeois and to be rejected, and that therefore 3) the only sumum bonum (greatest good) is the group will-to-power. This is at the root of the homosexualist movement, feminism, black power, white identity, La Raza (The Race, a hispanic fascist organization). It is very common. One can even identify Nazism as the normal case of human urbanized history. The people being seen as one with the State and State religion with the head of State being the avatar of the divine. This is also called oriental despotism. Whether the genius of Caesar, or Pharoah, the witch-kings of the American native city-states, or any other post-tribal, post-rural pagan State.

For this reason, we must always be vigilant. That is the price of freedom. We must stand up for the persecuted (and distinguish between actual persecuted groups and criminal associations like the fantasy Thieves' Guild, or real groups like NAMBLA or NARAL)

Perry, I think that has a lot more to do with the influence of pietism. While most modern confessional Lutherans have rejected certain elements of pietism, they seem to have kept the idea that the Kingdom of the Left was autonomous and not Christ's kingdom as much as is the Kingdom of the Right (the church). That is an error and is not taught by the Book of Concord or the Bible. It ignores Romans 13 pointing out that any law commanding to do evil or forbidding to do good, is no law at all.

LeeQuod

Very clever, Diane, to start at the *end* of Godwin's Law ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_Law ) and force people to discuss *away* from it. ;-)

Steve

From one who has actually read it, this might be a good spot to plug Jonah Goldberg's "Liberal Fascism." It's an excellent discussion of the history of Fascism including similarities and differences between the various movements, the shocking level of American support in the early 20th century, and the underlying agenda now continued by 21st century liberalism.

Goldberg would be in agreement with Jason that their actual language would vary with locale, so in that very narrow sense Nazism may be a one-time phenomenon, but its ideals and totalitarian impulse are alive and well.

labrialumn

Godwin's Law is a logical fallacy, usually promoted by those with a reason for wishing to avoid the comparison.

Another good book on the subject is Gene Veith's _Modern Fascism:Liquidating the Judaeo-Christian Worldview_. Concordia Press.

Diane Singer

Mike,

The only thing in dispute about these words, to my knowledge, is the "order" of the list. Official records show Neimoller said them in various venues, but never quite the same. I just chose the one I was the most familiar with.

Jason Taylor


Any annoyance can be construed as a violation of civil rights. And therefore subject to the "First they came for" argument. But the point in calling it an aberration, is that given the knowledge of the people of the time, it was not unreasonable to assume that Hitler was just another eccentric street politician. His strange background and career could easily be dismissed as being no different then of such as Pilsudski or Attaturk or other radical politicians that turned out to be more or less benevolent when in office. His early demands were the sort one would expect any irredintist to make; like the Poles "pickpocketing" of Vilna during the Polish-Bolshevic war. In short the people that made those mistakes made them on the assumption that Hitler was not in fact-Hitler. Which in fact was the immense probability. That is what I mean by calling it an aberration.
And in America "rights" talk is used to justify all kinds of things. It is often self-pitying(to claim oppression is by implication admiting inferior status-kings don't have rights, they have power and position)to a degree not necessarily in keeping with one's own dignity. More important, it neglects the fact that rights is a zero-sum game and everyone's rights is limited by everyone elses rights. Thus rights can actually be used to justify oppression-and is certainly used to justify disorder.
Finally if we are going to remember Niemoller we might also remember Maculay:

Now Roman is to Roman, more hateful then the foe.
As we wax hot in faction, in battle we wax cold.

Brian

The Nazis interned and executed homosexuals at concentration camps across the country.

Anti-homosexual forces have amended constitutions in a majority of states, and a mob vote retracted the rights of a minority in California. Gays have marriage rights in two states, their rights have been systematically removed in around 30, including the ability to raise children, form families, and in some cases sign contracts.

Niemoller's warning is haunting; unfortunately, it's haunting in precisely the opposite way of what is presented here.

This will be my only comment on this post, I cannot stomach it for one moment longer.

Steve

Brian,
No rights have been denied. Gays have the right to marry in all 50 states and all US territories. Unfortunately, marriage - real marriage - is the last thing many of them are interested in.

The objective of "gay marriage" activists is to demand a radical redefinition of marriage and creation of a special new right, which no one, gay or straight, has the right to do - apart from the democratic process, which seems to be working quite well in most states, thank you.

By using inappropriate terminology that no one on the opposing side recognizes as sensible, you frame the discussion in a way no dialogue could be possible. It is just as well you have no other comments to offer.

labrialumn

Brian, the Nazi's also executed murderers. Shall we let them go free? You are making a logical fallacy in assuming that if group a did a bad then then everything group a did was bad and that the exact opposite of everything group a did is therefore the ideal.


Of course, the reason that the Nazi's came to execute homosexuals wasn't for reasons of obeying God, or upholding public morality. It was because the Brown Shirt faction of the Nazi Party was mostly homosexual, and homosexuals were mostly members of it. That faction wanted to genocide the Christians right then and there (Heidegger agreed), but the SS faction were strongly opposed to this, believing that such an act would cause such civil uproar that Germany would lose the war with Russia, and insisted that the genocide of the Christians be delayed until after Russia had been defeated. With the suppression of the Brown Shirts on the Night of the Long Knives, homosexuals were then prosecuted as they were likely underground members of the Brown Shirts, and thus a danger to the State. You can see similar behavioral examples in Sodom when the angels visited Lot, and in California, where homosexualist mobs commit vandalism and bodily assault upon people they presume are Christians.

Jason, you then appear to be in agreement with the liberal response to Eli Weisel's novel _The Portage to San Cristobal of A.H._ wherein Hitler is found hiding in South America and is captured by the Mossad and being brought to Israel for trial. Hitler gives his explanation for the things he did. The liberals agreed that Hitler was right, but that his methods were atrocious. Today's fascists have better tailors, but it is the ideas which have the consequences.

LeeQuod

It's very disturbing to see Brian becoming an "ends justify the means" kind of guy.

On the other hand, American culture in general seems to be going that way, replacing morality with expediency. Perhaps that accounts in part for the record numbers for handgun sales.

Jason Taylor

Labrielumm, you misunderstand my point. I am not saying that Hitler was right but his methods were atrocious. I am saying that given the circumstances of the time it was for quite a while impossible to distinguish Hitler from any number of eccentric politicians and that making calculations based on the assumption that someone might be another Hitler is like making calculations based on the assumption that he might be the Antichrist.

Jason Taylor

Besides, they had VERY good tailors then. German uniforms looked quite good. At least when they hadn't been worn through a whole campaign season...

Diane Singer

Steve, It's not true that gays can marry in all 50 states. Fewer than 10 allow gay marriage and / or civil unions. Forty states prohibit same-sex unions either by statute or constitutional amendment.

Brian, what you call "mob" action in CA is simply democracy at work. The majority of people in CA spoke on the issue. You may not like the outcome, but they have a legal right to go to into the voting booth and decide what the law is supposed to be. On the other side, we have gay activists committing criminal acts in order to intimidate anyone who dares to oppose their "right" to marry. If they succeed (getting back to my original post), then we can expect more criminal acts to be aimed at individuals or groups that opposes gay marriage -- not just the Mormon church. As a Bible-believing Christian, this concerns me. The Bible teaches that homosexuality is a sin, period. How can a Christian support any law that legalizes sin?

Jason Taylor

If criminal acts are commited instead of mere insults then I modify some of my posts. Insults are regretable but part of the modern political structure and they are a reason why someone has to opt out of the insult feud for the sake of civilization. Criminal acts are criminal.

As for "how a Christian can support a law that legalizes sin" Christians do this all the time. Apostasy, Covetousness, Lust in one's heart, Anger toward one's brother, and Pride among other things. The question is about whether this is a law that approves of sin.

Steve

Diane,
Apparently I wasn't as clear as I thought. Gays can can join in real marriage - i.e., to a member of the opposite sex - in all 50 states, but not "marry" - i.e. each other.

labrialumn

Jason,
You seem to be rejecting the idea that ideas have consequences, and wish to claim that National Socialist Germany was solely the product of one personality. That is not only an absurd position to take, it is quite a dangerous one. If you really didn't believe that ideas have consequences, you wouldn't be posting, for it would be meaningless.

There is an obvious distinction between laws against things performed in public that the civil authorities can indeed be competant to prosecute, and those which occur in ones' heart or mind, such as covetousness or 'hate crimes', which of course, the civil authorities are *not* competent to prosecute.

Who indeed knows the heart of a man? But where two or more eyewitnesses agree in their testimony, you can have a conviction for a public action.

All laws are based upon some notion or morality or another.

But you know this.

Jason Taylor

Ideas do have consequences and I never said that Nazi Germany was solely because of Hitler although that arguably was the case for a special reason. If there had been no Hitler the Nazi party likly wouldn't have gained power in the first place. If it had done so it would have taken a different form. It is hard to picture the Nazis without Hitler simply because it was a cult of personality in a way Communism never was.

The point I was making was that it was inperceptable until to late and that there is so much eccentricity in politics that it was not irrational to assume it is more of the same. Or in other words the boy who cried wolf usually is just crying wolf in some circumstances.

By comparison, Italian Fascism was really not much like the Nazis. Maybe because Italians are to lazy and have to much of a sense of humor to do a good job being evil. Ask Gina about it. But while Italian Fascists were not nice people they were not Nazis because while Il Duce was not nice, he was not Der Fuhrer.

And in normal circumstances any state would have either repressed the Nazis or relegated them to the laugh corner. Circumstances were not normal. Just one example of the difference in circumstance was that the Weimar state, because of treaty limitations, could not field enough men to have confidance in being able to repress them quickly if it should be necessary. How often does that happen to a major European power?

My point is that you can't just go around Godwining. Lots of things resemble the Nazis in some manner or other without being Nazis. You can say the Boy Scouts resemble the Hitler Youth and in superficial matters(like uniforms, idealizing physical exertion, and even a vague hint of low key I-love-a-parade type militarism) you would not be wrong. But you know perfectly well that the Boy Scouts simply are not the Hitler Youth and that the comparison is ridiculous. That is my point. Not that ideas don't have consequenses. Nor that men are not evil. Simply that not all distasteful persons are Hitler and not all injustices are Naziish. Some perspective is needed
To put it another way, all sin really is demonic. But does that mean that any drunkard could match Johney at a fiddle playing contest in Georgia?

Gina Dalfonzo

Thanks, I think. :-) Although I can't speak for all Italians, I personally would far rather be lazy than evil.

labrialumn

The German National Socialists added Darwinism and post-modernism to the mix far stronger than did the Italian fascists. The Italian fascists were post-modern of course, going for group identity, but they were willing to let the Church and the Jews live, not using evolutionism to justify race theories. Their group identity of Romanitas was based on a polyglot empire.But it was the same underlying ideology and economic system.

The National Socialists were not nearly as much a personality cult as you seem to think. Himmler, Goebels and others had a reasonable amount of popularity. Fascism was popular throughout Europe and America. In Germany in particular it was able to cast itself as being an opponent of communism even though it is a post-modernist variant of modernist communism. It was seen as a way to avoid bolshevik take-over, the Weimar Republic was failing, and the other major alternative was to return to a strong Bismarkian monarchy which hadn't been popular in the first place. I don't think that Eichman or Himmler or Goebels or for that matter Derrida, Pound, and Heidegger were any less evil or genocide-minded than Hitler was.

You are committing the poisoning the well fallacy. I am talkning about ideas, not uniforms. Accusing someone or dismissing their arguments due to their "Godwinning" IS a logical fallacy.


Why do you desire to obscure the intimate family relationship between National Socialism/fascism, Progressivism and post-modernism?

Jason Taylor

It is Godwining to say "first they came for..." in normal political discourse.

And though Eichman, etc were just as evil as Hitler, it required Hitler to put them in a position where their evil could express itself.

And while fascism was popular all over Europe, each fascism was different and peculiar to it's own country(indeed it would have to be as fascism is nationalist totalitarianism just as communism is internationalist). And most forms of fascism were nothing like the Nazis and in fact tended to resemble banana dictatorships more often then Nazis.

As for why I desire to obscure the "intimate family relationship between National Socialism/fascism, Progressiveism, and post-modernism", the reason is that they are in fact not that intimate and are more like distant cousins. And that it is unchivalrous to call political opponents Nazis without sufficient justification.

Moreover you misunderstand me. I am speaking as much of the danger as of the theoretical evil of Naziism. Mugabe is not Hitler not because Mugabe is not a vicious tyrant but because the Zimbawian army is not the Wehrmacht. Idi Amin was not Hitler because the Jews were in fact able to land within a few miles of his palace and leave with their kinfolk after causing due and proper mayhem. Which obviously they could not do to Hitler. No doubt both of these are as bad as Hitler to their own folk. But they are not a threat to the world.

There are plenty of evil people and evil ideas. Hitler temporarily succeeded because he came at a time and place in which luck was in his favor.

To say things like,"First they came for...", not only implies that your opponents are evil, but that they are capable of aquireing the means of expressing their evil. "Coming for", is an expression of their danger not their evil. Eichman "came for" a lot of people, in Budapest. When he was in Argentina, people "came for" him.

Steve Michaels

Jason,

It is a slippery slope you are walking my friend. Evil is not an aberration.
A very wise old prof gave me some words of wisdom I would like to share with you.
" Whenever you get onto a train of thought, make sure to check your ticket, to see where it is going to let you off".

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