Opinion: ‘First They Came’

The Murfreesboro Post, September 19, 2017

Rep. Mike Sparks of Tennessee’s 49th District

“First They Came” is a poem written by German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller.  The poem was written in regards to the cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis’ rise to power and subsequent purging of their chosen targets, group after group.

“First they came for the Communists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Communist

Then they came for the Socialists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Socialist

Then they came for the trade unionists

Martin Niemöller, 1952

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 out for me.”

First they will come for the Confederate flag, then they will come for Confederate monuments, then they will come after the Church’s tax exempt status, then they will come for the few Pastors who preach the Gospel.  They will charge them with hate crimes if they speak the words written in the Bible.  Then they will come for you.

Captain John Newton and William Wilberforce

Next they will try and ban the old hymn “Amazing Grace.”  The song has been sung by presidents, paupers and by slaves.  Ironically the hymn was written by former slave ship Captain John Newton.  His actions at the end of his life were influenced William Wilberforce, who served in British Parliament. Wilberforce led the campaign to pass the Slavery Abolition Act 1833. There are parallels between Newton and Nathan Bedford Forrest. Forrest, like Newton, found redemption at the end of his life, often advocating for African Americans.

What we don’t hear from our “fair and balanced” media is that 3,000 African Americans attended Forrest’s funeral. Can anyone name a white elected official in our state who had that many blacks attend their funeral? Forrest’s story of redemption should be told truthfully.

Mike Sparks represents the 49th house district in the Tennessee General Assembly, representing areas of North Murfreesboro, Smyrna, La Vergne and Almaville community.

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