Tyranny respects no one
In the best American tradition, citizens are rising up against the injustice of Donald Trump. Millions marched peacefully in communities across the land. Thousands assembled at airports to protest unjustified actions against refugees and visitors from several Muslim-majority countries. Diverse organizations and networks are speaking out about how their constituencies and interests are threatened by the extremism of a president most voters voted against.
On Jan. 24, Gov. Jerry Brown of California delivered his annual State of the State Address. He celebrated how 27 percent of California residents were born in a foreign land and many generations of immigrants have contributed to that diverse and dynamic society, which is now the sixth largest economy in the world.
He made clear what California will do in response to oppressive action by the federal government: “We will defend everybody — every man, woman and child — who has come here for a better life and has contributed to the well-being of our state.”
Jerry Brown believes in our country’s great invitation, the inscription on the Statue of Liberty: Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
Donald Trump behaves consistently as a bully, scapegoating whoever appears to lack power. But most Americans (including Trump himself) are either immigrants or descendants of immigrants. The American people believe in what the Lady of New York Harbor declares and stand in support of her message for Americans yet to come.
Trump voters: Do not assume you are safe from the excesses of the current presidency. Once let loose, tyranny respects no one. Consider this statement by the German pastor Martin Niemoller (1892-1984), quoted by the National Holocaust Memorial Museum:
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. We must all do our part so that this does not happen among us.
The Rev. Charles Hoffacker, Brandywine The writer is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Parish, Baden.