“An event has happened upon which it is difficult to speak and impossible to be silent.”
— Edmund Burke
“Silence in matters of public interest is intolerable in a free society.” — Author Unknown
Just when I was preparing to get started on writing about a particular issue for my column today, my intention of writing about the matter was preempted by the urgency of an escalating evil that is transpiring in Dillon, especially in Newtown.
The recent murders and shooting up of a few homes where children, elderly people, and innocent people (who had no dealings with the shooters) are truly alarming and a call to arms and prayer about these misguided, disrespectful, and often violent young men.
I am familiar with most of these young men, either directly or indirectly through their parents or grandparents. Some of the perpetrators of the violence and evil are perhaps even related to me.
As always, my objective is not stemming from hatred of or for these misguided youngsters, regardless of the role that they may be playing in this ongoing drama of violence, revenge, and slayings.
Hopefully, some of them will read this material and think about the evil that they are doing to bring hurt and even ruin to their families, community, and self.
I chose my topic to bring attention to the silence that fear has induced upon many of the residents of Newtown in regard to helping to expose the ones who are shooting up some people’s houses. This silence and not wanting to get involved or be called a squealer or informer was popularized by the intimidation and threats from gangsters upon citizens of communities that were being victimized by their illegal, violent, and often murderous activities. In actuality, the practice of remaining silent while atrocities are being inflicted and imposed upon others is an ancient characteristic and response of many throughout history. Let us revisit some historical incidences that transpired bringing injustice, brutality, atrocity, and even genocide upon millions of people while free citizens remained silent and indifferent.
Four Hundred Years
Thank God for the Abolitionists, Quakers, and others like William Wilberforce and John Newton from England who were instrumental through their outcry against slavery in America. Had it not been for these compassionate and courageous people, we dare to wonder how long slavery in America would have lasted. I think we can say (without any exaggeration) that it would have lasted for at least thirty to fifty years beyond the Civil War and Emancipation Proclamation. Beside the Quakers and a few other Christian voices, where were the outcries of the church and Christian community in regard to this unbiblical, demoralizing, dehumanizing, and exploitative practice? I believe that if more American citizens (especially those from within the Christian community) had gotten involved in the Abolitionist movement, slavery would have been terminated long before the election of Abraham Lincoln as our sixteenth president and the Civil War that caused the death of over six hundred and twenty thousand (620, 000) Americans – both Southern and Union — could have been spared.
The Unconstitutional Internment of Japanese Americans During
World War II
A very racist thing transpired at the onset of World War II that remains a blemish on our nation as the land of the free and home of the brave. From one hundred and ten thousand (110,000) to one hundred and twenty thousand (120,000) American citizens of Japanese ancestry were interned and confined in consecration camps simply because the Imperial Empire of Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii without any provocation on our behalf. Though these American citizens were completely guiltless and innocent of what General Hideki Tojo and the other political and military hierarchy of Japan did, they nevertheless reaped some injustice and grave consequences because of their race.
Amazingly, no American citizen of either German or Italian ancestry (whose ancestral homeland were a part of the Axis of nations, along with Japan), were interned or confined in a concentration camp. Where was the outcry against this blatant and racist act against these Japanese American citizens? The silence was truly not golden and lovely, it was dark and sinister.
Silence and the Holocausts
Did silence contribute to the Holocaust? Could the systematic murder of well over six million people (who were mostly Jews) during World War II been diminished or altogether averted had the German population not been so indifferent and silent? Were the Allied nations of France, England, and America, to some degree, responsible for the carnage because they waited too long to speak out against what their intelligence, as well as the rumors, were echoing. What about the more recent holocausts in countries like Rwanda, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq (under Saddam Hussein), and quite a few others around the world? Could a louder more intense whistleblowing from American and other Western countries have saved hundreds of thousands or perhaps millions of lives?
Learning a Lesson From Spiderman: a.k.a. Peter Parker
In my final section today, I want to use a brief incident from the creative genius of the late, great Stan Lee, who was one of my favorite fictional and comic book writers. Peter Parker, who had only recently discovered that he had acquired some supernatural ability and strength due to having been bitten by a radioactive spider in the lab at school was using this uncanny ability to make some much needed money as a costume wrestler with a mask. One night after totally clobbering and taunting his opponent as his custom was ever since his newly discovered powers, he met a burglar who had just stole some money from the place where he would perform as a wrestler. Due to his supernatural abilities, he could have very easily subdued and captured the man who he met face to face. However, he did not want to get involved and he made no attempt to stop him. A few days later, his beloved Uncle Ben was murdered by a burglar who broke into the house where he, his wife (Mae), and his nephew (Peter Parker) lived. Bent on getting revenge, he used his supernatural spider abilities to hunt the man down. When he recognized that he was the burglar he saw at the arena that night, he wept bitterly and had to live with much guilt and regret from that moment. Had he stopped the man, his Uncle Ben would have still been alive! Don’t make the mistake that Spider Man made. Don’t let the intimidation and fear tactics from these young and misguided men stop you from being a whistleblower. You do not have to report what you know openly or publicly. You can do it secretly and in anonymity and no one will ever discover the good deed that you have done to help your community purge itself of this criminal plight and pestilence.
Once again, I refer to this wise saying from Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Please do not sit by on the bench of intimidation, fear, and apathy while the criminals and thugs are taking over. Get up off of that bench and get in the game – the struggle for the sanity and survival of your community is at stake and is dependent on your involvement.