I try not to get too personal on this blog, but I am tired of hearing “Never Again” being spoken by hypocrites.
In 1941, several of my relatives living in Europe–a family in Vienna with four children coming of age and a father who liked to play violin–were deported to Ukraine as part of the Nazi purges. There, most of them starved to death in the winter of 1942. The youngest was 15. Only two of the daughters, Elsa and Paula, survived to even tell of what had happened to their family. In my family there are many others who we can’t even say what happened to them. Their life stories end in question marks, often with a little note attached that reads, “Killed in the war?”
Escaping to the US was impossible: Americans were still afraid that people posing as Jewish refugees would actually be communists or Nazi sympathizers, and would topple America from within. 72% of Americans were opposed to admitting large numbers of Jews.
The day after Holocaust Remembrance Day, we are still reeling from the effects of Donald Trump’s executive orders. While these resulted in a lot of policy shifts, the short of it is that programs to admit refugees have been suspended and that all people traveling from Muslim-majority countries are banned from entering the US, even if they already have a green card. Of the refugees, most of them are children, mothers, and families desperate to escape the large-scale violence that has consumed countries like Iraq and Syria for years. Children live in shelled-out homes and people try to reconstruct their lives under rubble. Government forces, rebel forces, and in some places ISIS serve to make every place an utter hell.
This is how it begins: in America, we see the footage of drowned children whose parents were desperate to give them a better life, and instead we spend hours on the news babbling about the “risk” of an ISIS terrorist posing as a refugee and bombing our cities. The same way that in the 1930s and 40s, we crowed about how Nazis could pose as Jews and infiltrate our country.
“Never Forget,” they say. I think they’ve forgotten.