Monday, November 23, 2015
Will History Repeat and Syrian Refugees Meet The Same Fate as German Jews 70+ Years Ago?
German Jewish refugees land at Antwerp, Belgium in June, 1939. This was after being denied landing rights in Cuba and the United States. Most ended up in Nazi gas chambers.
Hispanic immigrants display posters with Trump as Hitler.
It was the philosopher George Santayana who once said: "Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it".
But today in the U.S., amidst a batshit crazy Republican presidential candidate field - paired with few Americans who recall history (at least in the pro-GOP fold - we find we may be close to repeating it again. This time, with the fleeing Syrian refugees being forced back to their shredded homeland to meet the same fate as the desperate Jews trying to escape Nazi Germany 76 years ago - except the Syrians will likely end up slaughtered by ISIS.
In a Denver Post story Saturday, the experience of Sol Messinger was described -only 7 when he stood with his father at the rail of the ocean liner St. Louis and stared into distant darkness to see the lights of Miami glittering off the bow. So near to him and more than 900 fellow Jewish refugees aboard, yet beyond their reach. The port of Miami and the U.S. refused to allow them to disembark to find freedom.
Too many Americans, with the exception of those like Messinger, are aware of the disturbing similarities between the rhetoric of today and the attitudes of the U.S. public and officials during World War II - which ended up sending thousands of Jews to their deaths because of our nation's refusal to accept them.
Like the anti-Muslim hysteria today, that somehow ISIS will plant terrorists among the Syrian refugees (despite it being much easier to enter on a fake passport and tourist visa) American attitudes in the late 1930s-40s were fed by fears the Nazis "would plant agents, spies and saboteurs among the Jewish refugees. In other words, Americans at the time feared the Nazis would pressure the Jews, particularly those whose families were still in Germany, to act as agents on behalf of the Third Reich,"
This, according to Alan Lichtman, professor of history at American University, adding:
"Those arguments are chillingly similar to the arguments being made against the admission of the Syrian refugees."
To reinforce this, on Monday, an Ohio professor, Peter Shulman of Case Western Reserve University, used Twitter to post results from a 1938 public opinion poll showing Americans overwhelmingly rejected admission of German Jews in the years leading up to the outbreak of war.
The reaction according to Shulman, "was instantaneous and totally overwhelming. It was like nothing I've ever experienced before,". One of his tweets of the decades-old polling data has been relayed 4,600 times, cited by commentators in The Washington Post, Time and other publications.
According to Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Illinois:
"When we sent Jews back to Germany and when we sent Japanese to internment camps, we regretted it and we will regret this as well,"
Yet according to recent polls, most Americans - especially on the Right (and backing Trump) are literally petrified of this coming true: some one Syrian refugee suddenly setting off a mass killing spree a la ISIS compatriots like in Paris. They ought to be more worried about thugs like Urich Caine who shot a Tulane medical student in the stomach using a straw-purchased Mac-10 in New Orleans' Lower Garden District. three days ago.
It has even been suggested that, living here in Colorado, I ought to be petrified too and hide under my bed because our Governor John Hickenlooper plans to take in at least 230. But know what? I am not the least bit terrorized at the prospect, or petrified nor do I regard myself as "naïve" or "dumb". I know, in fact, there's a much greater chance of an outbreak of violence if a concealed carry law is passed and especially the current loophole - allowing those on the terror watch list to purchase weapons - isn't closed. Why the fuck would I fear a poor, besieged Syrian family, forced to flee for their lives, when they're also victims of ISIS? Because some asshole politico says I should?
But see, it proves again Americans have zero conception of probabilities and risk assessment. Most aren't aware that 20 of their countrymen are killed every year by cows, but we don't dispatch all the cows from the country. (We need them for food, burgers, milk, etc. so accept the 20 a year death toll - which is more than all the would-be terrorists have killed.)
Don't these douchebags grasp this barring Syrians refugees is just what ISIS wants? To try to get even more Syrians and others to join their ranks because no one in the West will accept them? How fuckin' dumb is that? (As one Denver Post letter writer put it yesterday, "the best way to create a new terrorist is to send a five year old child back to his war torn land with nothing to live on, and no home of his own. ISIS will soon enough take him under its wing and in 10-15 years or so he will emerge as a new threat")
But see, when millions have their brains fermented in an emotional froth and hysteria- breeding mass paranoia - there is little capacity for reason and logic to enter. The fear centers in the amygdala take over and the reasoning centers in the neocortex are left high and dry. This is also what a pernicious mind virus does.
By contrast, France has set an example for what a true nation valuing freedom looks like. This happened when President Francois Hollande announced that France will still take in the 30,000 refugees it promised under a new EU accord, even in the wake of the Paris attacks.
At the apex of the American anti-refugee reaction has been Donald Trump, who has actually recommended a "National registry" for Muslims, as well as closing down Mosques. Trump is notable for almost single-handedly making immigration the centerpiece of his campaign. Moreover, with the Paris attacks he - as well as other GOOPs - have hyped up their anti immigrant rhetoric even more.
The SPLC 'Intelligence Report' (Winter, 2015) notes that:
"after the release of Trump's immigration plan, dozens of threads about the candidate appeared on Stormfront, the world's largest hate forum - founded and still run by a former Alabama Klan leader."
A post followed to the effect of "deporting about 25 percent" and another followed suggesting "shooting the rest".
Already, we see the venom of fascism and fascist support creeping in just as it did in Nazi Germany in the 1930s. The character of the German people was altered just as our character is being altered now by the fears sown by the demagogues like Trump.
WHO exactly are these people, these would-be voters, who support Trump so splenetically? William Galston writing in The Wall Street Journal ('Trump Rides A Blue Collar Wave') has broken down the pro-Trump demographic nicely.
Galston writes that "55 percent of his supporters are white, working class" and the most likely to back him are men "aged 50-64 with no more than a high school education"
In other words, the same basic demographic that has been shown to be prematurely dying from drug overdoses, suicide and a lot of other maladies, e.g.
More interesting yet, this is almost exactly the same demographic that helped hurl Adolf Hitler to the Chancellorship in 1933, according to Robert Payne in his The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler, 1973.
Interestingly, according to Galston:
"These voters are least likely to say that government is looking out for the interests of the middle or working class or white men, and the most likely to affirm there is discrimination against these groups."
And yet, incredibly, they'd cast votes for a billionaire blowhard belonging to a pro-billionaire, pro-corporate party which couldn't give a rat's ass about a declining middle or working class because their wealth is based on it!
Barbara Ehrenreich ('This Land is THEIR Land', p. 6-7, ought to be read and re-read by these voters:
"How many 'wake up calls' do we need, people? How many broken levees, drowned cities, depleted food pantries, people dead for lack of ordinary health care? (Waters poisoned by blown deep water oil wells)......Why don't we dare say it? The looting of America has gone on too long, and the average American is too maxed out, overworked, and overspent to have anything left to take. We need a new deal, a new distribution of power and wealth, if we want to restore the beautiful idea that was America".
She goes on to note "the share of pre-tax income going to the top 1 percent of American households has risen to 16 percent. At the same time, the share of income going to the bottom 80 percent has fallen by 7 percentage points."
But it's worse than that! Those top 1 percent of people and indeed the top 5 %, have made out like bandits since the Bush tax cuts were passed in 2001 (extended through 2011). As a result, there has been an average transference of $7,000 every year from lower and middle income earners to the top. According to a New York Times piece cited by Ehrenreich: "It's as if every household in the bottom 80% is writing a check for $7,000 every year and sending it to the top 1 percent".
Which begs the question of how any normal person with a normal brain, invested in his or her own interests, can possibly be for a pro-wealth party or pro -wealth guy? Do they suppose they can also amass a Trump level of wealth? If so they are more deluded than these 30- odd Repuke gubernators who don't grasp they can't refuse refugees because they have NO legal authority to do so! The laws of the federal gov't trump their paranoid histrionics.
The answer lies in the same basis for this demographic offing themselves (see above link) at above normal rates: they have given up on trusting the system to work in their favor and now opt to act like lemmings - just to vent their IDs. (Google "ID")
It is a sad commentary when a nation succumbs to governance by its collective ID as opposed to reason. But history tells us this has happened numerous times before. Each time that nation was left in ruin and had to rebuild. Let's hope it doesn't happen here.