An Open Letter to Donald Trump

Dear Mr. Trump,

You may (or may not) be familiar with this famous poem from Martin  Niemöller, a Protestant pastor and an outspoken, if tardy, critic of Adolph Hitler and the National Socialists. His lament describes the inevitable consequences of apathy in the face of the slow creep of fascism–creep aided by bigotry and the irrational fear of others.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, 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 for me.

Unlike you, Mr. Trump, I don’t pretend to be an expert on the Muslim faith. In fact, I only know one Muslim. I know her because she is the main reason my daughter and others like her have a diagnosis for their rare genetic disorder. I know her because I work with this brilliant geneticist in a joint effort to make sure that all people–regardless of religion, gender or national origin–can benefit from early diagnosis and to provide them with hope for the future because, thanks in large part to her work, we have targets for potential therapies.

In over 15 years of partnership with Dr. Z and her colleagues, the only ‘radicalization’ I have ever seen in her is her eagerness to employ radical new genetics technologies in aid of helping patients faster. I have never–not once–heard her speak a negative word about her adopted country, even as the rest of us lament the idiocy of modern American politics with each election cycle. Unlike you and your followers, she has never suggested or recommended that patients who are Christian, Jewish or of any other faith should be banned from the rights and freedoms guaranteed to all Americans on the basis of their religion. She would find it unthinkable to suggest that any patient, regardless of their beliefs, be denied access to the health services we all take for granted.

So, Mr. Trump, I want to let you know right now that if you come for my friend, I will be the first in line to speak out. If you come for her family, I will be the first in line to stand in your way. If you come for her fellow Muslims, I will be first in line to stop you. I will not, as pastor Niemöller did, regret remaining silent in the face of clear injustice until it is too late. We know better than to let this happen again, even if you don’t. We have had the benefit of history as our guide, even if you refuse to learn from it.

This has got to stop before there is no one but the most bigoted and foolish among us left to speak out.


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