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Find Your Voice

Friday, 17 June 2016

by Staff, Spaulding Law

“First they came for the communists and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist. 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 me and there was no one left to speak out for me.” --First They Came--Pastor Martin Niemoller.

Recently, a prominent elected official admitted to having persecuted a minority group when he was an adolescent and pronounced a change of heart and deep regret. It is never an easy thing to admit error, particularly for a politician today. However, he was right--to persecute or injure any person for personal reasons, including personal gain, is an assault on not just one, but on all who reside in a civilized society, particularly one like America, whose foundational principles are predicated on agency and choice and the rule of law.

This week, millions of hearts and minds go out and speak out in support of the victims of the tragic shooting in Florida early Sunday morning. Although most Americans may not be a member of what appears to be the targeted group of that insane attack, Americans should speak out against those whose hate has burst to a level of violence and terror. Human life is sacrosanct in a civilized world, and terror is the antithesis of civility.

People must speak while their speaking can be heard. However, speaking does little good if clouded in prejudice or misinformation, including unfairly blaming societal ills, religious persuasion, or the tools or instruments of violence. Those who blame terrorist violence on an eroding society are largely wrong. American society does not countenance terror. One evil actor, or even hundreds of them, do not amount to more than a drop in an ocean of people or a grain of sand on a beach. American society is brimming with good, peaceful people who would never countenance such unconscionable acts of terror, and society at large should not be blamed for the acts of one or of a few.

Likewise, those who blame an entire worldwide religion for countenancing terror, unfairly demonize millions by wrongly associating them with splinter terrorist groups which may share a geographic or cultural heritage but little else. This country still regrets what it did to those of Japanese heritage in the 1940s (internment camps) and should not make the same mistake again.

Still others will question and accuse those who safeguard access to the instruments used to implement an attack. Experience has shown, as evidenced by the 9-11, and suicide bombing attacks in other places, that any instrument, particularly unanticipated and unsuspected or previously unutilized instruments, may be used to incite terror. Unfortunately, terrorists, may walk on any street and work, worship, recreate, and live anonymously until they strike unannounced. They will find ways to practice their craft and it is them, and not the instruments, that should bear the blunt of the blame. That is not to say that restrictive laws are unhelpful in many respects, however, their impact should be weighed against societal costs and realistic prospects of their success.

In the aftermath of insanely tragic events such as the one last Sunday, commentators will comment, editors will editorialize, and politicians will rage and promise to solve the problems of violence and terror in America and across the globe. That is good--there is value and virtue in the message and to paraphrase a famous quote, all evil needs in order to succeed is for good men and women to do nothing. Doing something positive and speaking out to protect others is a duty of every American living in a country founded on the premise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Notwithstanding all society does, in the end they may still come after us. However, to simply let evil quietly have its way would be an unspeakable tragedy.

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