After World War II, trying to explain how good Germans allowed the monstrous evil of the Nazi regime, a pastor recalled that the Nazis came for the communists, and he did nothing; then for the trade unionists, then for the gypsies and Jews; then for the Catholics – and each time he did nothing. When they came for him, none were left to defend him.
Last week, here in America, they came for Jessica Hughes, and I will not be silent. I will not turn away, hoping, in the end, they will not come for me.
Jessica Hughes of Lufkin, Texas, former Marine, mother of three, answered her cell phone in the car, coming home from the emergency room. Her 9-year-old had suffered a mild concussion, but was OK.
The caller was a female Obama volunteer who asked if Jessica would support Obama for president.
Jessica replied, "No, I don't support him. Your guy is a socialist who voted four times in the state Senate to let little babies die in hospital closets; I think you should find something better to do with your time." Then Jessica hung up.
The next day, a man and a woman in suits showed up at the door of her home, identifying themselves as members of the Secret Service.
The Secret Service agents stated that the Obama campaign had complained of a death threat. They had quoted Jessica as saying, "I will never support Obama, and he will wind up dead on a hospital floor."
Jessica's husband had heard Jessica's side of the original phone call and verified the actual quote. To which the female agent replied, "Oh? Well why would she (the Obama volunteer) make that up?"
Jessica replied that the Obama volunteer was probably unhappy about what Jessica had said about her candidate. The female agent then said "That's right, you were rude!"
The male agent then displayed a file with Jessica's full name prominently printed on it and asked her how she felt about Obama. At this point, the former Marine told the agent "in no uncertain terms" (as she later recounted) that this was America and that the last time she checked, she was allowed to think whatever she wanted without being questioned by the Secret Service. And was being "rude" a federal crime now too?
The agents then admitted they had no tape of the conversation, just the quote from the Obama campaign.
Responding to Jessica's questions, the agents would not identify themselves by name, nor reveal the name of the Obama volunteer who had made the complaint. The agents did indicate that Jessica was not in a court of law yet, and that they were trying to not embarrass her "by going to all her family and neighbors."
To these implied threats, Jessica invited the agents to speak to whomever they wanted, and stated she would happily go to court since she had done nothing wrong.
Jessica asked the agents, "Look, someone calls me unsolicited on my cell phone to ask me to support their candidate, and I can't tell them why I don't?"
The Secret Service left Jessica that day, but she could not get the "visit" out of her mind.
Jessica wrote later, "The fact that the volunteer lied, the fact that the Secret Service came to my house to question me about my thoughts and feelings and threaten to embarrass me to my neighbors and go to court if I didn't cooperate is not the tragedy here.
"Because that girl on the phone doesn't have the pull to send the Secret Service to my home. Someone high in the ranks of a campaign working for a man who may be the next President of the United States of America felt comfortable bringing the force of the Federal Government to bear on a private citizen on nothing but the word of a partisan volunteer."
Taken together with the intimidation campaign against WGN Radio because it aired an interview about the Obama-Ayers connection, the use of local criminal prosecutors to intimidate TV stations in certain states to not run ads critical of Obama, and the use of race to rally black voters and shame white voters, the Obama campaign's M.O. in Jessica's case is a warning.
The pattern is unmistakable. The drumbeat of jackboots echoes now faintly, but persistently, in the fall breeze.
They came for Jessica, and I will not be silent.