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Reply #25: History repeats itself [View All]

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noamnety Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-13-07 11:15 AM
Response to Reply #24
25. History repeats itself
Edited on Mon Aug-13-07 11:17 AM by lwfern
In 1938, 300,000 Germans, mostly Jewish refugees, tried to get US visas. The US denied over 90% of the requests, out of concern for Americans who would resent the competition over jobs.

In 1939, the St. Louis left Germany with a thousand refugees, again mainly Jewish. The US Coast Guard followed the ship along the Florida coast to prevent it from landing, and prevent its passengers from swimming ashore. Roosevelt never replied to a telegram pleading to allow them asylum. The ship, in the end, returned to Europe and most of the passengers were sent to concentration camps.

Even when the realities of the concentration camps were known, the attitude of our government and of many many citizens was that they sympathized with the Jews, they thought we should be doing everything we could to stop the atrocities, but, you know, we didn't want them in our backyard. If we could relocate them some other place, they were all for that, though. Economically, it just wouldn't be good for us, not at that time. It just wasn't wise. Plus, you know, they were Jewish. As the chief of the US Consular Service wrote in a report introduced into Congress, Jewish immigrants were "filthy, un-American, and often dangerous in their habits ... lacking any conception of patriotism or national spirit." It's not that he was a religious bigot, it's just that followers of some religions are worse than others. You know how that is.

Anne Frank's family was refused asylum here in 1941.

I gather there are some folks here who sympathize with Roosevelt's position on immigration. He wasn't opposed to giving the refugees a safe place, just not now, not here, the timing was bad. Basically, he felt that human rights (the right of US citizens to be employed) trumped political correctness (granting asylum to refugees), and a lot of people throughout the administration and in the general public shared this concern that the economy of the region may not be able to support such high numbers of refugees, and so they instead believed putting the refugees somewhere else was best all around. Someplace where the refugees could be safe, but not someplace where it would actually impact their life at all.

Meanwhile, other people like Wallenberg were less concerned about their own economic security. He risked (and lost) his life, but he saved 20,000 others.

I think it's a lot easier to make a case that Roosevelt was a bigot (as well as most of his administration and the American public) and that Wallenberg devoted his life to human rights, than it is to make the case that Wallenberg was a bigot and Roosevelt was devoted to human rights.
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