Friday Fictioneers: Never Again?


Warning:  Political strong political content. I’ve left my thoughts for the end, so you can think your own thoughts.

Friday Fictioneers is run by our own Energizer Bunny, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Join in, or read many more stories, at her blog Addicted to Purple. As always, I welcome honest, constructive feedback. Freedom of speech: use yours and leave a comment.

© Sandra Crook

© Sandra Crook

Never Again (99 words)

First they came for Blacks, but I didn’t speak out–

Because I wasn’t black.

Then they came for the Jews, but I didn’t speak out–

Because I wasn’t a Jew.

They came for Boris Nemtsov, but I didn’t speak out–

Because the Russians don’t concern me.

Then they came for the cartoonists–

And I marched; I yelled; I let everyone know that this was wrong,

Because freedom is sacred.

But, I was left alone with cartoons–

The Jews were quietly slaughtered, again, and around the planet Blacks were massacred or put in prisons.

But I was free to speak.

*     *     *

My thoughts: 

First, read the original poem that inspired this, here.

I saw this bucolic scene and thought of many things… but the news got the better of me. It’s hard not to feel like the world is imploding– there are some very dark things going on around the globe and in our own yards. Some of it, admittedly, feels more personal… and I am aware, that we all to some degree, care most about what effects us directly. But I can’t help but feel that “Winter is coming.”

I want to be clear (as this is a very political piece) that I do not in ANY way condone nor minimize the murder of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists; it was barbaric and wrong in every way. However, they were artists exercising their right to free speech, by throwing rocks at sleeping lions. Many of the cartoons in question, were deeply offensive. Lions don’t stay asleep, and I don’t believe that freedom of speech means we should use that freedom to insult and incite. The same day, those same terrorists went to a Jewish market in Paris, and killed people, simply because they were Jews who were shopping for food. On that same day Islamic extremists slaughtered 2,000 Africans– men, women and children who did nothing that day but tend their crops, walk to the market or see their children off to school. Yet it was the slain cartoonists that dominated the news.

Throughout France, the rise of Anti-Semitism over the past nearly 2 years has been extraordinary. More Jews have left France than in any other time other than WWII, in direct response to persecution and harassment. Children have been threatened at schools; synagogues and stores have been defiled with swastikas. Copenhagen got a taste of this, a month later– again, the murder of a cartoonist and an attack on a Jewish school.

It is not Muslims– who are simply living their lives and practicing their faith, who are doing these things. ISIS, and other Islamic extremists, do not care about cartoonists nor freedom of speech, in the big picture. They targeted specific people who they felt had defamed their Prophet and their faith. They used violence and terrorism, because that is what they stand for. However, they do target Jews; they would in fact like to see all Jews wiped out. Who is speaking out about that?

For more on anti-Semitism in France, watch this shocking video. Check out: this story about the Nigerian massacre, this (US Colleges), or this (Black men in America). Personally, I believe Russia is only as stable as its leaders, and Putin is one scary guy, perhaps criminal. Read this. There are countless other sources; do your own reading, and share your thoughts.

And I will now step off my political box; you can share your thoughts in the comment section.

*     *     *

GIPYHelp Me Reach My Goals! I’d love to see the Tales From the Motherland Facebook page reach 700 likes in 2015. Have you stopped by to spread some fairy dust? Follow me on Twitter, where I’m forced to be brief. Most importantly, if you like a post I’ve written, hit Like and leave a comment. I love to hear what readers think. Honest, positive or constructive feedback is always welcome. Click Follow; you’ll get each new post delivered by email, with no spam.  If you see ads on this page, please let me know. They shouldn’t be there.  ©2014  Please note, that all content and images on this site are copyrighted to Dawn Quyle Landau and Tales From the Motherland, unless specifically noted otherwise. If you want to share my work, please give proper credit. Plagiarism sucks.

About Dawn Quyle Landau

Mother, Writer, treasure hunter, aging red head, and sushi lover. This is my view on life, "Straight up, with a twist––" because life is too short to be subtle! Featured blogger for Huffington Post, and followed on Twitter by LeBron James– for reasons beyond my comprehension.
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58 Responses to Friday Fictioneers: Never Again?

  1. Dawn, this is a very well done piece. I, too, have been keeping an eye on what’s happening with/to the Jews and wonder if the clock isn’t ticking backwards, taking us back to the Nazi era. Then again. I don’t think the Jews have ever gotten a fair deal.

    Like

    • Thanks Alicia… it’s a very touchy subject these days. I have never, NEVER, heard so many anti-Semitic comments, as I have recently… always cloaked in defense of some other point, or “just joking.” It isn’t funny to me. However, I am equally outraged by the other issues mentioned here, and so many that could not fit in a 100 word story. Scary times.

      Like

  2. Mike Lince says:

    It is hard to know where to begin. The writing – it is captivating and would draw images in the reader’s mind without the photo that inspired your story.

    The politics – It has been my experience here in my home state and elsewhere around the world that extremism in any form is dangerous. What people do in the name of their god or some ideology defies the precepts of any religion or humanistic cause.

    It is depressing at times to consider what our world has come to. And ultimately, as you pointed out with the same-day stories from elsewhere in the world as when the Charlie Hebdo attack took place, our media filters what we see and learn about the world around us. We need voices like yours to keep our eyes and ears open to the injustices and lawless actions that might otherwise go on beneath our awareness. I think your brief story is a masterful, eye-opening statement, and I hope it gets broader readership beyond this post. – Mike

    Liked by 1 person

  3. mamaheidi60 says:

    Good piece/need for peace. What stands out for me is all the fear in this world! The fear that comes from not knowing what other people are thinking and doing. Without realizing that they are all just people, someone’s son, someone’s mother, someone’s sister or brother. We start out the same, small and helpless. We want to be protected and to protect. I feel like some of it is a fear of not having enough and wanting more, more, more. More of your land, more of your food, more of your water, more of your oil, more, more, more. For me, me, me. Add into the mix some of the stupidest! politicians ever, not just in our country, but in others, and then a mix of apathetic citizens. And people, who through no fault of their own, have not had the privilege of traveling and seeing that around the world, we are just humans, who love and want to be loved. How we will ever cross that great chasm, I do not know. We are in big trouble. Yes, we are. And all I can do is speak out, and stand on the side of love, always.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Very well said Dawn. Ever since the Charlie Hebdo murders I find myself thinking of some Algerian friends I had when I lived in France, and of the racism against them that I witnessed first hand, and of how they accepted it because it was normal to them. I fear that the backlash will be terrible. Not necessarily loud, or explosive, but terrible nonetheless.
    I did my journalism training in Northern Ireland where I was taught that freedom of speech is sacred but it comes with a responsibility. Incitement to hatred and major threats to public order are are not part of any definition of freedom.
    Thank you for writing and sharing this piece Dawn. It has brought me a step closer to gathering my own thoughts on the subject.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much Siobhan; I will look forward to you expressing your thoughts on this subject (be sure to send me a link!). It is incredible to me, truly, that so much of the world has turned its head on so many things…. yet, the Charlie Hedbo incident had world leaders marching, and French citizens outraged… in a country that has stood by and allowed their Jewish, their Black, their minorities… be treated horribly. Your friends, folks we know in France– it is appalling, that only when some white men, who used their rights to free speech to incite, humiliate and insult, were murdered, was anyone appalled. And again, their murders were in NO way justified. I absolutely stand behind freedom of speech, but I could not agree with your 2nd paragraph more– what is freedom?

      Thank you so much for this articulate, meaningful comment. I appreciate your reading my work; I appreciate your support and expression enormously!

      Like

  5. Dear Dawn,

    Haven’t I read this piece before? I can see the link to the prompt. It’s chilling. As a Jew I find it doubly so. I appreciate your thoughts at the end.

    Growing up in the 60’s I remember watching the march on Selma and rooting for Dr. King and his followers.

    I believe it’s 1939 once more and wonder who will liberate us from ourselves.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rochelle, I was very young in the 60s, but deeply impacted by what was happening around me. I truly believe that it takes a village, and that our villages are surrounded. Who is standing up for what is wrong? Anti-Semitism is personal, and very upsetting to me, but I am deeply disturbed by a rising tide of racism, and overt bullying of so many groups… along with an apathy that is horrifying. As always, your feedback means so much; thank you!

      Note, I’m confused about your first 2 sentences… this is a new post, and you do see the link to the prompt? Not sure what that means. I’m confused.

      Like

      • I mean that this feels very familiar. I don’t really see a link to the prompt, honestly…aside from the fact that the subject matter is chilling to me. I hope that clarifies.

        Shalom,

        Rochelle

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ahh, yes! Now I get it. Well, for me, the link is the sense of chill that I get from this progression backwards… a time when “winter” seemed to last forever. I threw in the Game of Thrones’ term “Winter is coming,” in my commentary, in reference to that. I saw this lovely field… and aside from the beauty, I sensed a coldness and that lead to fearfulness… interestingly, in my reading so far, there have been several other references to discrimination, ethnic vulnerability, etc. Sandra did it with such subtle touches, while I ran all over it. 😉 Clearly, something about a frosty field took a few of us in that direction. Thanks for clarifying! Shabbat shalom!

          Like

  6. Pingback: Friday Fictioneers: Never Again? | ugiridharaprasad

  7. This is awesome. If they have Pulitzer Prize for blog posts, you should win it.

    Like

  8. jgroeber says:

    I remember exactly where I was (and who I was) the first time I heard a version of that Niemoller quote (can’t find the damn umlaut anywhere, sorry.) I was a kid in 7th grade in a boring New Jersey public school classroom, and those words were life-changing. Thank you for the reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It’s true that our outrage is rarely proportionate, so I agree with you. I think one reason why the Charlie Hebdo massacres got more attention was that it was different than other unfortunately more common types of terror. Also, when you get news from journalists, they care more about their own than others. That’s understandable, but I wish all terror could be stopped, for all races and for rich and poor. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. storydivamg says:

    Dear Dawn, I like your allusion to the timeless and timely words of Martin Niemöller. The end of your poem explains all the futility of it all–the cartoons, the words but no one left to protect with them. Political, yes, but important words of truth for people on all sides of each issue. Without the freedom of expression we cannot stand up for others, but if we fail to stand up for a cause, what good is freedom of expression. Great work.

    All my best,
    Marie Gail

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Amy Reese says:

    Powerful piece, Dawn. Well said. I think it’s the simplicity of this that makes this so effective. We don’t need to dress anything up here. We just need to stop and listen. And act.

    Like

  12. Following your work, reading your thoughts on many topics…all that makes me wish we meet in person some day. I agree with all you said and I could add so much more.
    There is no excuse for violence and terror, but we need to stop for a second and recognize who is really feeding this hungry beast. So much resentment, hatred, racism, misogyny, intolerance is present in the world, it always seems we are going back in time. In truth, I do believe it is not worse now then before, we just have an easier access to the information from every corner of the world.
    As for freedom of speech, it is a very delicate matter. There is no such thing as an absolute freedom, because at some point we must be guided by our internal moral compass and common sense. It is a funny world we live in, where so many are fighting for their freedom, yet they are so quick to relinquish it to governments and financial institutions, in the name of “better” life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Loré, thank you so much for this thoughtful, intelligent response to my post; it is much appreciated. I would agree that we share many similar or same values and thoughts on these topics! I also agree that perhaps it is not much worse now, than ever before; we certainly have much more access to the information and knowledge– which can make it seem that way. However, it’s the repetition that scares me. Never again? Hmm… as another comment pointed out: at a time when Holocaust survivors and Civil Rights survivors, it is that much more shocking to see us headed in the same backward directions! Again, thanks for your thoughts.

      And, where do you live? Perhaps one day we’ll chat across a table. 🙂 I keep a running list of locations, and if I’m traveling, try to connect… one of my favorite things to do!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Dawn,

    A great take on a classic piece of writing. Very well done. In the end it will just be the end, with no one to write about anything and no one to care. I’m glad you wrote this now instead of later.

    Aloha,

    Doug

    Like

    • Thanks Doug. I went back in my comments and added the reference and link. I thought it was so well known, that I didn’t have to say, but don’t want anyone thinking this was entirely my (original) idea… I simply took it in some new directions. I would agree, there will be no one left to enjoy that free speech, unless we all think a little more carefully about what we really need/want to say! Aloha, D

      Like

  14. ME says:

    So true-may I add that women as a group have also been devalued. Because my partner isn’t scary I assume everyone else can find a safe partner. Because I wasn’t raped I assume everyone who was, was asking for it or could have fought off the attacker. I don’t need an abortion so why would anyone else? Because I don’t need to make a choice about which of my children to invest in, I judge women who do or disparage them for bringing children into the world that they can not support. I truly think if women were valued and valued each other the world would be a better place, for Blacks, for Jews, Russians and everyone else.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for saying this ME! Only so much can be said in 100 words, but it would have been stronger if I’d added women to that group. And there it is… because I can write what i think, and say what I think, and be safe with my partner, etc… yes, I did not think to include women in this piece… When they, as much, and so often more, need to be mentioned. Thank you, dear friend. xox

      Like

  15. Katalina4 says:

    I did not know that about the situation in France, Dawn, thank you for bringing that forward.
    The rising racism in Europe in general has been something I’ve been only watching in a vague kind of way, but I thought it was very immigration-focused. You have educated me, and reminded me that hatred is simply hatred…

    Like

  16. jwdwrites says:

    You are right of course about the rise of antisemitism in the world at large, but I think that hatred and intolerance in general has cranked up a few gears in recent years. Even here in England which is amongst the more racially tolerant of European societies it seems that we are not immune. I fit solar PV in my other life and I have found my customers boycotting Israel products as a protest to events in Gaza and openly hostile sentiments expressed by educated people. I think you are right, Winter may indeed be coming. Thank you for well written and thought provoking post.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. There’s a fair bit of antisemitism in the US now, too, as was all to plain in the video from UCLA earlier this year.

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

    • Huge issue here too, yes! I in no way meant to suggest it was only in Europe, or specifically France. However, the issues there are quite disturbing, while they seem to be (Mostly) quietly simmering here. Either way, it is all just ugly.
      Thanks for your feedback, Janet!

      Like

  18. Sandra says:

    It’s a powerful piece Dawn, and you should be rightly proud of it. I’m generally reasonably sensitive to what’s going on around me, but I have to say that the rising tide of anti-semitism (which I don’t doubt for one moment) has not, for the main part been prevalent around the places I frequent in England, France and Spain. Other kinds of prejudice, sadly, are – territorialism, it seems, is as much a part of the human condition as it is in the animal kingdom. I’ve never come even remotely close to understanding anti-semitism however, and like you fear for the future. We’re certainly not moving forward as a species. Well done, a carefully thought out piece.

    Like

    • Sandra, I really appreciate your thoughts here. I know you travel a lot, in these places and it’s always interesting to hear others’ perspectives. I have friends in France who say it has been horrible for the past year+; my daughter could barely stomach some of what she saw in Paris last year (swastikas, graffiti, etc). Like you, I will never understand anti-Semitism… it truly stumps me. But then, racism, cruelty, hatred on a such a wide scale, is not something I hope to ever understand… thank you so much for this very thoughtful comment, and a wonderful photo to inspire me.

      Like

  19. erinleary says:

    This is what happens when good people fail to speak up. You nailed it, Dawn. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Good piece, Dawn. Some types of news always seems to gain prominance. There are other areas where the attention is never drawn. I wouldn’t have known about Christians being targeted in India by extremists in some areas if I hadn’t been living here. I also got the news easier because I’m a Christian. Many good Non-Christian people here are ashamed and don’t mention it. If I bring it up they’re very uncomfortable discussing it. — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

  21. hbksloss says:

    Well done, nothing to add to all the thoughtful comments so I shared your post on Twitter.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. plaridel says:

    oftentimes we have to choose our battle because we can’t win them all. most important is that we act to the best of our abilities.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Ah, yes sometimes we need to speak up.. and I agree that all kind of xenophobia and isms are on the rize.. and maybe the murders is just expressing bigger movements that are scarier.. across Europe different pseudo-fascism and racism is on the rise.. I am scared myself…

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Cathy Ulrich says:

    Sad, confusing and scary times. Yes, freedom of speech is one of our rights, here in the U.S. but freedom to incite, freedom to utter threats and hate? Not so much, I say. Meanwhile, those who speak out in other parts of the world (such as Russia) are murdered. Well done piece, Dawn. Honestly, I think hate is just another word for fear and until the human race matures enough to understand this, we’ll most likely be seeing more of these scary acts.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Dee says:

    A very powerful piece Dawn which has provoked equally powerful responses. I have never ever understood the persecution and hatred of the Jews, which has gone in for centuries in one country or another. I also never understood the persecution and hatred of Black Americans, by their own countrymen. Nowadays, religious hatred is rife worldwide; countries are defiling the boundaries of neighbours with weak and unfounded excuses and unless mankind learns to be tolerant and non-judgemental, to accept people for what they are, then future looks very bleak indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. rgayer55 says:

    I never could understand why so many people are anxious to climb on the Hatred Bus? It’s a one-way trip that leads to destruction. A great piece. I commend you for writing it.

    Liked by 1 person

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