Why June 30, 2018 and Families Belong Together Matters

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Every blue dot on this map from MoveOn.org represents people standing up to the policy of child separation and incarceration. This matters. Let me offer some context on why it matters.

The first concentration camps appeared in Germany in 1933. There were no marches or protests opposing the camps. To put the feeling that many people in Germany had about National Socialism into context, Protestant pastor Martin Niemöller supported the Nazi Party in 1933. By 1937, Niemöller was locked in a Concentration Camp. Today, we know Martin Niemöller from some words attributed to him in 1955. They are …

“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…”

The thing that’s often lost about the above is that it’s not just poetic, not merely rhetorical. It was factual. Niemöller described his own lived experience, of not speaking out, of what happened. There were no protests.

The first concentration camps appeared in the United States in 1942, with Franklin Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. The only saving grace of the order was that our Concentration Camps didn’t include execution facilities or require slave labor. We at least kept families together. We did take away the property of the people we incarcerated. Arguably, our Concentration Camps resembled the other versions of this we’d done, in the form of Indian Reservations. We just didn’t offer the Japanese-Americans incarcerated even the semblance of sovereignty while they were locked up. Like Germany, there were no protests of these camps. The most that came was rebukes from some churches, who also did their best to offer humanitarian aid to people in the camps. But here were no protests.

So, in the present, I think it matters that there are so many blue dots on this map on MoveOn.org. Because, yes, we are at least speaking out, some of us. And whether we win or lose, history will know we spoke out. And no one can say, “I didn’t know,” because we’ll have told them.

We need you.

Find the courage to do what the people of the past couldn’t do.

Demand that we be a better nation.


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