|'Go back to where you came from.' Passengers aboard the St. Louis |
in 1939. These refugees from Nazi Germany were forced to return
to Europe after both Cuba and the US denied them refuge.
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Dr. Liane Reif-Lehrer
Legally, Republican governors have no standing to determine who resides in respective states, the ludicrous Republican position propagated after President Obama "announced a plan to resettle at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the United States next year," (White House), per the law, with orderly safety and security procedures and out a sense of simple decency.
Factually, the refugees fleeing Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) are victims of the same aggregations of apocalyptic, mystical crazies created by U.S. military intervention, destabilization and murder of millions of Muslims, (Cole, Informed Comment) (Welton, CounterPunch) cheered on by Republicans calling for more war now while demonizing refugees.
Historically, the Republican governors' bleating 'we will not accept refugees," is reminiscent of the infamous American rejection of Jews fleeing NAZI Germany and being refused permission to emigrate to the Untied States in 1939.
Consider the voyage of German transatlantic liner St. Louis in 1939 loaded with over 900 Jewish passengers fleeing the Third Reich, seeking Cuba and the United States as destinations.
Many Cubans resented the relatively large number of refugees (including 2,500 Jews), whom the government had already admitted into the country, because they appeared to be competitors for scarce jobs.
Hostility toward immigrants fueled both antisemitism and xenophobia. Both agents of Nazi Germany and indigenous right-wing movements hyped the immigrant issue in their publications and demonstrations, claiming that incoming Jews were Communists. Two of the papers—Diario de la Marina, owned by the influential Rivero family, and Avance, owned by the Zayas family, had supported the Spanish fascist leader General Francisco Franco, who, after a three-year civil war, had just overthrown the Spanish Republic in the spring of 1939 with the help of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. ...
Following the US government's refusal to permit the passengers to disembark, the St. Louis sailed back to Europe on June 6, 1939. The passengers did not return to Germany, however. Jewish organizations (particularly the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee) negotiated with four European governments to secure entry visas for the passengers: Great Britain took 288 passengers; the Netherlands admitted 181 passengers, Belgium took in 214 passengers; and 224 passengers found at least temporary refuge in France. Of the 288 passengers admitted by Great Britain, all survived World War II save one, who was killed during an air raid in 1940. Of the 620 passengers who returned to continent, 87 (14%) managed to emigrate before the German invasion of Western Europe in May 1940. 532 St. Louis passengers were trapped when Germany conquered Western Europe. Just over half, 278 survived the Holocaust. 254 died: 84 who had been in Belgium; 84 who had found refuge in Holland, and 86 who had been admitted to France. (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)
Is Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) the NAZIs? No, but not for lack of trying.
Republicans conflate anyone convenient with Daesh, playing on ignorance and hate and hoping nobody notices what they're doing.
The Republican Party's demagoguery towards perceived dangerous and inferior classes of people ought to alarm and appall any decent American as Islamophobia is thriving, U.S. Mosques are threatened, and a Mosque in Canada is set ablaze by nativists, (Goodman, Democracy Now).
America under rightwing pressure turned the St. Louis back less than one year before Americans in streets across the country celebrated the fall of Paris to the NAZIs in 1940.
As Republicans preach hate today, their end game won't be political failure, it is a moral failure with tragic consequences to follow.
"To slam the door in their faces -- to decide not to help when we know that we can help -- would be a betrayal of our values. It would be un-American," said President Obama in a statement explaining the defense of Syrian refugees fleeing Daesh (ISIS, ISIL), (Pope, White House; November 17, 2015).
As the great journalist Ralph Mcgill wrote in 1958 following the dynamiting of a Jewish Temple in Atlanta:
Let us face the facts. This is a harvest. It is the crop of things sown. ...
It is not possible to preach lawlessness and restrict it.
To be sure, none said go bomb a Jewish temple or a school. But let it be understood that when leadership in high places in any degree fails to support constituted authority, it opens the gates to all those who wish to take law into their hands.
Thank you, President Obama for sticking up for decency in America.
"This embrace of humanity's deepest values is itself a rejection of the tortured ISIS worldview," notes Richard Fontaine in the Wall Street Journal.
We need this embrace not just because it's decent but also because the rightwing Republicans are playing with fire and dynamite.