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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Refugees, Then and Now

For John, BLUFSurprisingly, not everyone wants to come to America, to become an American.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From the web page Red State we have Mr Joe Cunningham commenting on statements by New York Times OpEd Columnist Nicholas Kristof.

Here is the quote Mr Cunningham zeros in on:

KRISTOF:  I think that we all think that Anne Frank and the European Jews were simply murdered because the Nazis regarded them as inferior, and in some sense that's true.  But it's also true that they died because mainstream America in some sense regarded them as inferior as well.
So, basically Mr Kristof is saying that when the getting was good, we failed to open our doors and arms.  As in 1939, when we turned away refugees aboard the MS St Louis, strangely a German liner, with 908 Jewish refugees.  They ended up back in Europe.

On the other hand, in 1939 there were no death camps such as Auschwitz, which at first housed Polish political prisoners, from May 1940.  Jews began arriving in early 1942.

There was no strong voice in the United States on this issue, except for some Jewish voices.  President Franklin D Roosevelt was not a strong supporter.  A proposal to bomb Auschwitz, first raised in 1942, went nowhere.

But, what lessons can we pull from this?  I think the war in Europe from 1939 until 1945 was different from what is happening in the Middle East.  What we are seeing in the Middle East is a civil war, not only between the Sunni and Shia, and all the smaller sects, but within Islam between those who would go back to the way it was in the 700s and those who would like to accommodate more modern ways of thinking.  To quote a friend of mine:

This is a war WITHIN Islam, among Muslims, over what they want their faith to be…what they want to keep or change about their culture.  This war is being played out in Pakistan (the murder of children, lawyers, those debate blasphemy laws, women) Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Morocco, Saudi, Jordan, Egypt, etc…across the Muslim world and where Muslims have gone.

This is a religious war among the faithful.

This is NOT about economics or nation state dynamics.  Sure, politics are always involved, but as most of the scholars on the Middle East and ISIS state…this is about religious images, ideology, tradition, tribe, revenge.

And then, that is the rub. Our “influence” often is seen as our arrogant, mindless, interference.  What are we going to influence them to do about their religion and culture?  Sure we can offer one way to address these issues, we can even pose hard questions to them on these questions, especially the issue of tolerance.  But these are NOT issues that respond to jobs programs, pro democracy groups.

Bringing in refugees is not the German Gastarbeiter program of the 1960s and 1970s, nor the French welcoming immigrants from the Maghreb.  Those were immigrants coming to a place with some expectation of assimilation and accommodation.  The over 1 million refugees out of Syria and other locations in the Middle East may not see themselves as being assimilated.  That may mean a culture within a culture.  Are refugee camps in Europe and the United States the best way to deal with these displaced persons or should we be finding other solutions, closer to their homes, to which they may wish to return?

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  As an additional piece of information, they were also not allowed to land in Cuba or Canada.
  On the other hand, there is the SS Navemar, which, in 1941, brought 1,120 Jews to New York City.

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