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First They Came For The Students... Is the Tea Party Next?

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The world seems to be going crazy. Some people think it has been crazy for a long time, perhaps it is true.

Protests and response to protests are in the news now. A lot. More than they have been for many years. Sometimes, you may agree with the protests, and sometimes you may disagree. There are people who put their lives on the line to allow you the right to disagree, the right to petition for a redress of grievances. I hope you remember that.

Sometimes it takes a lot to get people worked up enough to get off their complacent, apathetic backsides to make the world work for them. In enlightened, democratic countries, we got happy and fat - in that order - and we have become very lazy.

As my friend Michael Cutler says, "Democracy is not a spectator sport! For far too long our citizens demonstrated apathy which emboldened elected representatives to all but ignore the needs of the average American citizen in a quest for massive campaign funds and the promises of votes to be ostensibly delivered by special interest groups."

Michael is right, and it is still happening. Some people don't like what is happening. First, the Tea Party groups didn't like it, and the liberals and progressives shouted them down. Then the unions didn't like it, but they went about complaining a different way. There was violence. Then Occupy Wall Street got into the act and there was violence on both sides. Anarchists hooked onto the OWS protests and caused trouble. Now students are protesting and in the case at UC Davis, it seemed peaceful. The violence came from the police.

This isn't the first time the rights of others have been trampled on. It isn't the first time that other people allowed those rights to be assailed. I doubt it will be the last.

pepper spray davis students
Police pepper-spray UC Davis students.

The rights of the protesters at UC Davis, who were pepper-sprayed, are the same rights that you think you have. Conservatives can shout down their non-violent protest because they don't believe in it, but I issue a challenge to stand tall and watch as their right to assemble peacefully is taken from them by force. You might want to have that right yourself at some time in the future.

In 1955, a statement, about complacency that claimed the lives of millions, was published. That statement contained the words of German Pastor Martin Niemöller, and although there have been discussions about exactly what he said, and when, all that really matters is that the sentiments he expressed are as true today as they were when the Nazis were rampaging through Europe.

Niemöller's statement reminds us what can happen when we don't concern ourselves with terrible things that happen to "other people." For Niemöller, it was about the inactivity of German intellectuals, as Nazi power increased, and as Nazi targets were attacked and neutralized, one group at a time.

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

- Pastor Martin Niemöller

Democracy is fragile. So are the rights that come with it. Those rights belong to Conservatives and Liberals alike. Allow a precedent to be set, and the so-called Washington Elite will take rights from you. They already created the Patriot Act, and over time, they eat away your rights and exempt themselves from the rules that govern you.

So please consider, that the "Me" they will come for, is actually "You."

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