- More ignorance on migration. * A plea for tolerance. * Making fun of the Nazis. By the poet Paul Birtill.
Rachel Johnson, Sunday Times columnist, commented on BBC's Any Questions (12 September) "I think that the balanced migration plan slightly misses the target
"We are part of the EU, the EU has 27 Member States, 500 million people all of these can come in with various exceptions and caps and so on and this is I think the problem because there are already a lot of people from the EU here already."
Does Rachel Johnson not understand that many many British people work abroad and go and live and work in the EU? That is possible because we are part of the EU. Should British people not be able to go and live and work in Spain and Italy and France, or to buy property in Bulgaria, even to move to France or Spain with their families? Should the regulars in my local pub or neighbours where I live not be able to work much of the time in Spain or my brother live and work in Spain or Italy? Does Rachel Johnson not understand that very many students go and study and then work in other European countries – my cousins has done it, many of my graduates and friends have done it? Should that not be allowed. It is not just a case of Poles or Slovaks or Hungarians returning as they want to go home or unfortunately if they have not felt welcome but do those who criticise immigration and movement of people not understand that lots of British and Irish people go and live and work abroad?
David Aaronovitch and Tony Benn were much more rational.
Extremism often thrives in difficult times. Cultural flowering in the Weimar Republic and in Austria was replaced by the rise of the Nazis. The words of Pastor Martin Niemöller are always a useful reminder.* As the trial of Radovan Karadzic gets under way it is good to remember that tyrants, dictators and evil regimes do not last and that sometimes justice is done. Stalin and Mao and Pol Pot may have got away with it, so have many of the killers in Rwanda. What kind of man wants a legacy that instead of improving their country their greed and obsession with power brought destruction. Luckily for every Mugabe and Saddam Hussein or Ayatollah there are far more good people.
The best put down of the Nazis for me is from the poet, Paul Birtill –
"Hitler and the Nazis always talked about a Thousand Year Reich but it only lasted less than 12 years. How would it have sounded if Hitler had made all those big speeches at Nuremberg and the Berlin Sportpalast about a 12 year Reich. Fellow Germans we are going to have a 12 Year Reich. He would have sounded pretty stupid. Who would have followed him then?"
One can't laugh off such evil but one can laugh at the evil.
- First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not Jewish.
Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not Communist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionist's and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.
Version at holocaust memorial, Perth, Western Australia.