Just the Right Word

I really enjoy the English language! It is very nuanced. If you take the time, you can almost always find a word to express exactly what you want to express. Unfortunately, with over 220,000 words, it is sometimes hard to find the exact right word.

Today, for example, I’m trying to find the perfect word to describe someone who promises to protect something then, not only fails to protect that thing, but actively violates it?

I know there is a word for someone who behaves this way…


Dear Father Niemöller,

Sixty five years ago you wrote:

“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 .”

Must we, after all this time, add these new verses?

“When they went to Portland, I did not speak out

—because I was not an Oregonian.”

“When they go to New York, will I remain silent

—because I am not a New Yorker?”

“When they go to Philadelphia , will I still stay quiet

—because I am not a Pennsylvanian?”

And when they suspend the elections

—who then, will be brave enough to object?

Father Niemöller, will we soon, like you, hold ourselves complicit for the consequences of our silence?


Let us not be numbed, I pray, by this rising tide of affronts lest we find we stood muted while Liberty died from endless reams of paper cuts.