Republic candidate John Kasich has decided to call Donal Trump out on his rhetoric, by using a clip of retired Air Force Col. Tom Moe paraphrasing Martin Niemöller's famous anti-Nazi statement. Here is what Moe said:
"You might not care if Donald Trump says Muslims should register with their government, because you're not one," says Moe, to an ominous soundtrack. "And you might not care if Donald Trump says he's going to round up all the Hispanic immigrants, because you're not one. And you might not care if Donald Trump says it's okay to rough up black protesters, because you're not one. And you might not care if Donald Trump wants to suppress journalists, because you're not one. But think about this: If he keeps going, and he actually becomes president, he might just get around to you. And you better hope there's someone left to help you."
Compare to Niemöller's original:
First 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 for me.
Niemöller is a fascinating figure, having been a hero during World War I and an early supporter of the Nazis and then joining the anti-Nazi Confessing Church once it became clear to him just what the Nazi agenda was really about. His church was fire-bombed by Brown Shirts and he was eventually imprisoned for his opposition to the Nazi party.
Later he was asked by a fellow prisoner about his early support for the Nazis:
I find myself wondering about that too. I wonder about it as much as I regret it. Still, it is true that Hitler betrayed me. I had an audience with him, as a representative of the Protestant Church, shortly before he became Chancellor, in 1932. Hitler promised me on his word of honor, to protect the Church, and not to issue any anti-Church laws. He also agreed not to allow pogroms against the Jews, assuring me as follows: "There will be restrictions against the Jews, but there will be no ghettos, no pogroms, in Germany."
I really believed, given the widespread anti-Semitism in Germany, at that time—that Jews should avoid aspiring to Government positions or seats in the Reichstag. There were many Jews, especially among the Zionists, who took a similar stand. Hitler's assurance satisfied me at the time. On the other hand, I hated the growing atheistic movement, which was fostered and promoted by the Social Democrats and the Communists. Their hostility toward the Church made me pin my hopes on Hitler for a while.
I am paying for that mistake now; and not me alone, but thousands of other persons like me.
One can only hope that cooler heads prevail in the United States today, and we don't all wind up paying for similar mistakes in the future.