Back in the first half of the 20th century, German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemoller wrote a poem entitled "First They Came..." which tells how the Nazis came for different groups of people while German intellectuals rationalized away any opposition to Hitler's programs until they themselves were taken and no one was left to speak out on their behalf. First it was the socialists, then the trade unionists, then the Jews, and no one spoke out. Then, he writes, they came for me and there was no one left to speak out.
Today we are witnessing an attack on American values that is unprecedented in scope and will, I believe, not stop until the very ideas and principles our nation were founded upon are destroyed and laid to waste.
First they came for the Confederate flag. That seemed to be a valid issue. Besides, who could argue with the sorrow and anger the battle flag represents to so many people whose ancestors were enslaved in this country?
Then it evolved into all things Confederate, such as statues of great Southern military leaders. Cities across the South are right now in the process of removing monuments to the men who fought for the idea of state's rights. Although these men were also defending the rights of slaveholders, they believed they were fighting against the power of a central government that was overreaching its authority and taking away the rights of the individual states.
Again, no one today argues for slavery or seeks to justify the slavery defended by many Rebels. But slavery is a part of our nation's history, as is the Civil War. It is a historic fact and no amount of political correctness can erase that from our national psyche.
Now they are coming for the Founding Fathers themselves, for Jefferson, Washington, Adams and others, because they were slave owners and therefore must obviously be too flawed to deserve any honor for their achievements.
Next they will come for the achievements themselves -- such things as the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. Already, we see a growing distaste for freedom of speech on our college campuses. There is a growing distrust of individual rights from those on the Left. No longer is the private ownership of property held up as desirable or beneficial to society as a whole.
Identity politics and diversity have turned America from the "melting pot of the world" into a large "tossed salad" where no blending is encouraged or even tolerated. Charges of "cultural appropriation" are rampant. Division and suspicion between various special interest groups is a natural, though unfortunate, result. In the midst of this, we see such things as African-American students insisting on separate housing and segregated facilities on some college campuses. In fact, this year Harvard University actually held a separate graduation ceremony for blacks. Are you kidding me?
The long history of Western thought that leads from Plato and Socrates through the English Magna Carta and the French Revolution on down to Jefferson's Declaration of Independence and the 1960s' Civil Rights Movement is held in contempt by many on the Left. These revisionists are swiftly re-writing American history to make this great nation look evil and unworthy to be called an "exceptional nation."
But America's very exceptionalism is why good citizens everywhere should be speaking out. Before long, they may be coming for us. And who then will speak out?
Sam Byrnes, a resident of Gentry, Ark., is a weekly contributor to the Westside Eagle Observer newspaper. He may be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.Editorial on 06/14/2017
Print Headline: Trying To Erase Nation's History