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September 9, 2013
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Letter: Compassion for others should be universal

How soon we forget

Recently, The News-Review published my letter excoriating our young President (using his own words) for his obvious lack of compassion, tolerance and empathy for millions of Americans. And I thought that would be the end of it. In fact, I had already completed a kinder and gentler excoriation planned for this go-’round, but it will have to wait. You see, something very interesting and, I believe, important and instructive took place regarding that letter.

Not once, not twice, but three times — three times! — adults I know took me to task over that letter, and not for it’s veracity. Oh, no, not for the uncomfortable truth of it; no, it was because of my (apparent) hypocrisy in defending Christians. You see, these folks know I am an atheist. And yes, it’s true. I am a lifelong atheist ­— swear-to-God.

But I was stunned each time it happened and am still incredulous over it. How soon we forget.

Martin Niemoller (1892-1984), a Lutheran pastor and initial supporter of Adolph Hitler, spoke his famous and sage words extemporaneously and often. Here is one version:

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

Then they came for the socialists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

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 the Catholics, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Catholic.

Then they came for me, and there was nobody left to speak for me.

Patrick Conley


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The News-Review Updated Sep 9, 2013 09:36AM Published Sep 13, 2013 12:23PM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.