We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return, we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round again
In the circle game
Like the lyrics from the Joni Mitchell song above, the present does not exist independently from the past. Who we are now is a result of our past. Therefore, what we do now, determines our future.
Upon hearing President Obama’s plan to bring Syrian refugees to the United States, some governors are trying to prevent refugees from settling in their states because they are afraid of terrorism.
What they disregard is the fact the refugees are fleeing from the very same terrorists themselves!
This unreasonable fear is a repeat of what happened in 1933. When Franklin D. Roosevelt became president, many Americans were trying to survive the depression and feared that immigrants would take their jobs and place a burden upon our nation. Laws were passed that placed strict limits on the number of people allowed to enter the U.S. from other countries. People did not believe the reports that Hitler was planning to murder millions of Jews. Even when the evidence was clear that this was indeed happening, FDR ignored it and refused to ask Congress to change the immigration policy until 1943. Millions died as a result.
Are people really so barbaric that they would knowingly repeat this type of unjust, discriminatory behavior? Thankfully, states and cities with their petty bureaucrats have no say in stopping immigration. The federal government controls it, not them.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump thinks that Muslims should be required to register in a database.
The last time non-Christians were required to register, it looked like this:
Or is Trump suggesting that Muslims should carry or wear special badges Identifying themselves? Do these pictures bring a shameful past to mind for anyone?
He has also said he would not rule out using [warrant less] searches as part of his plan to increase surveillance of Muslim houses of worship, and has further suggested that American mosques could be shut down if they are thought to be a security threat.
How can this NOT remind anyone of Hitler and his treatment of the Jews?
Another republican candidate, Jeb Bush, has said he would only welcome refugees who can “prove” they are Christians.
Why does anyone have to prove they are Christian? The Constitution specifies that there is no role for religion in the government of the United States. None. President Obama is not refusing to give sanctuary to Christians. He’s refusing to deny sanctuary to Muslims! Government endorsement of any religion is forbidden. Religious tests for elected office are unlawful. You don’t have to “prove” you are religious at all. In fact, it is illegal to do so.
We have a system of government that is purposely designed to be neutral on religion and which, gives equal rights, equal access and equal protection to all citizens. What could be more fair than that? People can believe whatever they want, but those beliefs have no place in how the government and our nation is run.
Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, said that he “would not allow even an orphaned five-year-old refugee into the U.S.”
Ignorant comments and a heartless attitude is not a recipe for political success. Nor, does such narrow-minded obstinacy and poor judgement show any greatness of character.
A mayor from Roanoke, Virginia has not only told all city agencies to stop assisting Syrian refugees, but even suggests that we should relocate Syrian refugees to internment camps as we did to the Japanese-Americans during World War II!
A bit on information on those internment camps: They held over 120,000 Japanese-American men, women and children, who were taken from their homes and jobs on the coast and forcibly moved inland. These were United States citizens! Most of them were even BORN in the United States. Our government seized their property – their businesses, their homes, their cars. They lost everything! When the war was over, many stayed in the towns where they had been moved because they had nothing left to return to – their former lives were shattered.
I grew up in Utah near one of these former camps. My parent’s friends and neighbors were adults who had spent their childhood years quarantined behind those fences. I went to school with the children of those who were detained. My father was a World War II veteran who served his time on the island of Peleliu (in present-day Palau) fighting the Japanese soldiers. Despite this, he knew that you cannot judge a whole group of people by the actions of some. This detainment was one of the most shameful acts the U.S. government ever did, and we cannot justify a repeat of this!
Karl Marx said “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.”
If you see an injustice, and don’t call it out or move to right it when you have a chance, you are a part of that injustice. History will remember your apathy and you will not be judged kindly.
Let’s learn from the past! Let’s NOT recycle the same mistakes. Let’s NOT accept political decisions that make a mockery of the poem inscribed upon the Statue of Liberty.
Ellis Island and the Peopling of America by Virginia Yans-McLaughlin
The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus
“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch,
whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles.
From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome;
her mild eyes command the air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. “
Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she With silent lips.
“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Our nation was built upon a history of immigration – and each new group has added something new and wonderful to the tapestry that is the United States.
Don’t recycle what is wrong simply because it is being marketed as right. Don’t recycle something bad that is peddled as being good. Don’t recycle injustice that is sold as justice.
This is not who we are. We are better than this.
What we allow, is what will continue. Our silence gives consent.
Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of The Chesapeake Public Library System
Information on these subjects can be found at all Chesapeake Public Libraries.
See links below for some examples:
Reinventing The Melting Pot by Tamar Jacoby
The Lost Boys of Sudan by Mark Bixler
Imagining America by Paul Thai
The Other Side of the Sky by Farah Ahmedi
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Crossing Over by Ruben Martinez
They Came In Ships by John Colletta
The Famine Ships: The Irish Exodus to America by Edward Laxton
The Abandonment of the Jews by David S. Wyman
Last Witnesses by Erica Harth
The State of the Middle East by Dan Smith
The Pacific by Hugh Ambrose
Time of Fear (Video)
Parallel Journeys by Eleanor Ayer
Anne Frank: The book, the life, the afterlife by Francine Prose
The Encyclopedia of world faiths by Peter Bishop
Fighting for Christiandom:Holy War and The Crusades by Christopher Tyerman
American Islam by Paul Barrett
The Separation of Church and State by Victoria Sherrow
The Godless Constitution by Issac Kramnick
The Empire of Illusion by Chris Hedges