Lessons from Bonhoeffer could be applied today…

Posted: Friday, June 28, 2013 5:00 am

By Dinah Monahan – Special to the Independent 

I’m reading the biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was a German theologian who spoke out against what he saw happening in his country in the 1930s. It is creepy to see the parallels of Germany’s slide into tyranny and our current situation.

No, I am not saying that Obama is another Hitler. But he is a socialist bent on reshaping America. And there are markers of a country tumbling toward totalitarianism. Our markers are like sign posts, flying by a vehicle that is careening out of control.

Before the Third Reich gained ultimate power, there were years of preparation. Truth meant nothing. People were manipulated by words that were not just empty, but were the opposite of reality. People ceased to think logically. Their emotions were their only rudder. Bonhoeffer saw the threat clearly long before the iron fist smashed down. He spoke out, which made him an object of ridicule by fellow citizens.

Even the Christian church was silent. He was an alarmist, they said. Didn’t he hear the assurances? Regardless of the criticisms and shunning by many friends, he spoke out with courage. He summed it up with these words: In the face of evil “not to speak is to speak, not to act is to act.” He ended his life at the end of a rope days before the war ended.

With everything that is unfolding exposing our government’s spying on U.S. citizens, collecting and monitoring every stroke we write on the Internet, everything we buy and every call we make, we should be beyond alarmed. But don’t we hear the assurances? We are told that the government has our best interests at heart. It is looking for terrorist threats. We are, of course, assuming that means al-Qaida. But maybe we should ask just who the government considers to be potential terrorists? I think the head of Homeland Security, Janet Napalitano, has best answered this.

A Department of Homeland Security report entitled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment” defined who the government considered terrorist threats. “Rightwing extremism goes beyond religious and racial hate groups and extends to those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely…It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration,” said the report, which also listed gun owners and veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as potential risks. If this weren’t disturbing enough, a recent report in Investor’s Business Daily says that mosques are excluded from the surveillance dragnet operated by the government.

Considering who the Department of Homeland Security considers a potential terrorist (translated “enemy of the state”), this casts a sinister light on the latest breaking news. Are you pro-life? Do you own a gun? Do you support protecting our borders and enforcing our immigration laws? Are you a veteran? Do you believe in limited federal government? You are, by definition of the Department of Homeland Security, a potential terrorist. And you are being monitored by our federal government. Feel safer?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoke out against the encroaching tyranny. At first he was tolerated by the powers that be because they were not fully entrenched. They gave lip service to his right to free speech. And they tracked his every move and collected a fat file of his every word. When they had enough control he paid…with his life!

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