Date: July 11th., 2005
Sent to but not published in the New York Times

In 1946, Martin Niemöller is said to have written the following poem:

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.

With the erosion of civil liberties over the last few years, the poem needs to be updated to reflect our era. Unhappily all the groups mentioned are in danger of being deprived of their civil liberties; happily, for the rest of us, only members of the first group are in prison.

First they came for the enemy combatants, and I did not speak out -- because I was neither an enemy nor a combatant;

Then they came for those seeking or providing abortions, and I did not speak out -- because I neither sought nor provided abortions;

Then they came for the Muslims, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Muslim;

Then they came for the gays and lesbians, and I did not speak out -- because I was neither a gay nor a lesbian;

Then they came for the buyers and borrowers of books, and I did not speak out - because I neither bought nor borrowed a book;

Then they came for the remaining non-Christians; and I did not speak out because I was not a non-Christian;

Then they came for the non-Evangelicals, and I did not speak out -- because I was not a non-Evangelical;

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

It is time for all of us to recognize that civil liberties are indivisible. The attack on one group is a threat to all of us. The terrible attacks in London last week are going to make it more difficult to restrain the heavy hand of the Bush Administration and its proposals for the renewal of the Patriot Act, but resist we must.