Thursday, December 3, 2015
XENOPHOBIA NOT NEW
Xenophobia continues to rear its ugly head. Today it is fear of Muslims and focusing on refugees.
This fear has been aggravated by this week’s mass killings in San Bernardino, by a Muslim couple, one of whom was a native born American.
We American’s boast about our compassion for others yet we have a history that belies that boast.
Today there is a similarity to this nation’s state of mind in the 1930s-40s regarding the Jews
The Holocaust Museum a week ago made this statement: “Acutely aware of the consequences to Jews who were unable to flee Nazism, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum looks with concern upon the current refugee crisis,” the museum said in a statement on Thursday.
“While recognizing that security concerns must be fully addressed, we should not turn our backs on the thousands of legitimate refugees. The Museum calls on public figures and citizens to avoid condemning today’s refugees as a group. It is important to remember that many are fleeing because they have been targeted by the Assad regime and ISIS for persecution and in some cases elimination on the basis of their identity.”
Look at our history about migrant refugees who are a displaced people escaping danger who, unlike conventional immigrants, have not voluntarily left their homes for reasons like family reunification or economic opportunity.
During the late 1930s, for instance, as European Jews were fleeing Nazi aggression, two-thirds of Americans opposed increasing immigration ceilings to admit them, citing fears that Bolsheviks or German agents might slip into the country. This was also a time of international isolation, marked by economic depression and extreme anti-Semitism.
Our business and religious leaders including Henry Ford, Father Charles Coughlin, and leader of the anti-Semitic Christian Front, in his weekly radio broadcast preached our isolationism and hatred of Jews.
JTA’s article this week on this subject reported quotes from politicians such as Rep. Jacob Thorkelson, a Montana Republican, said “Jewish migrants are part of an “invisible government” tied to the “communistic Jew” and to “Jewish international financiers”. And Sen. Robert Reynolds, a North Carolina Democrat, said Jews are “systematically building a Jewish empire in this country. “Let Europe take care of its own people,” he said. “We cannot care for our own, to say nothing of importing more to care for. “Reynolds told Life magazine he merely wanted “our own fine boys and lovely girls to have all the jobs in this wonderful country” Shades of Trump and Cruz!
President Franklin D. Roosevelt himself warned that Jewish refugees might be Nazi spies, coerced to do the Reich’s bidding with threats against relatives back home. At a news conference, Roosevelt explained how refugees – “especially Jewish refugees” – might be forced into service for the Nazis with the threat that if they declined, they would be told, “We are frightfully sorry, but your old father and mother will be taken out and shot.”
In one of the most infamous incidents involving Jewish refugees, the SS St. Louis, a ship loaded with Jews fleeing the Nazis, sailed to the waters off of Florida in 1939, its passengers begging Roosevelt to enter the country. But Roosevelt said no, and the ship returned to Europe. Nearly half its passengers would perish at the hands of the Nazis,
I could go on with this history although with the onset of the Cold War, anti-communism and diplomacy guided US actions on refugees and revealed the selective application of humanitarian compassion. For much of the second half of the 20th century, policies allowing refugees' entry were implemented in an ad hoc fashion and usually only applied to people fleeing communist regimes. For example, the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956 prompted the admission of tens of thousands of Hungarians, and Cuba's socialist revolution of 1959 led to the United States accepting hundreds of thousands of refugees from that country. ." By contrast, during the 1980s, Haitians fleeing the dictatorial but US-backed Duvalier regime were repeatedly denied asylum or refugee status.
After the Vietnam War, Americans hesitated to admit Southeast Asian refugees, due in part to a legacy of anti-Asian immigration exclusion and a desire for closure from a divisive war. Because people were fleeing Communist governments, politicians acceded that the United States had a duty to admit them, and Americans' urgency to do so deepened after learning about tragedies like the plight of "boat people" and the "killing fields" of Cambodia. (Wikipedia)
We have recognize the problem when President Jimmy Carter signed the Refugee Act of 1980, which created a comprehensive system for processing refugee and asylum cases, he proclaimed, "[It] is the historical policy of the United States to respond to the urgent needs of persons subject to persecution in their homelands.".
We have the right to fear and combat terrorism with its militancy to kill innocent peoples. Today it is the fundamentalists ISIS who we justifiably are concerned about.
We should be in fear and reject any political leadership that embraces a fundamental religion and advocates a Theocracy rather than the freedom of worship allowed by our Democracy.
Above all do not damn all Muslims because of the violence of a minority. Treat them as equals. They will unless you are a bigot. Make as good a citizen as you or I.