Nazi 'Shadows' Lurking in Europe's Embrace of Migrants?
"Europe's refugee crisis is darkened by the shadows of WWII," a recent L.A. Times title reads. Quite a compelling title – after all, nothing good comes out of shadows, especially not WWII shadows of the European variety. Yet very little good comes of Holocaust comparisons, either, as the L.A. Times's Henry Chu proves.
"On a continent still haunted by World War II, ghostly – and ghastly – shadows of that convulsive conflict have been impossible to avoid as Europe grapples with its biggest refugee crisis since the war ended 70 years ago," writes Chu.
Chu offers a list of three examples of the "shadows" of World War II, which have supposedly cast their gloom onto Europe today. Keep in mind that these are supposed to be three current manifestations of "ghostly – and ghastly – shadows" of World War II, according to Chu:
They [shadows of WWII] were there when Czech authorities wrote numbers, like tattoos, on the hands of Syrian refugees arriving by railway in the city of Breclav.
When desperate people aboard other trains, believing themselves bound for their hoped-for destinations, were instead taken to camps they did not want to go to.
When an authoritarian leader declared that adherents of a particular religion were not wanted in Europe because they threaten its Christian identity.
Chu thus reveals exactly what the "shadows" are today: Nazi policy. After directly linking three aspects of Nazism to Europe's treatment of migrants today, Chu inexplicably writes, "None of these [examples] is exactly parallel or equivalent to the horrors of the Second World War." Then why on earth did Chu draw the analogy?
Chu specifically invokes the Nazi regime's policy but then abruptly declares that there is no comparison. What Chu did in just the opening lines of his puzzling article was to downplay, intellectually and morally, the legacy of the Holocaust. Chu thoughtlessly imputes Lebensraum to Europe's embrace of refugees – a remarkable absurdity, even for the L.A. Times. The slightest reverence for history would prevent a moderately informed person from drawing connections this absurd.
By the words not "exactly parallel or equivalent to the horrors of the Second World War," Chu means to say that nothing occurring in Europe is remotely similar to Nazi policy. Nonetheless, he saw fit to throw in the Nazi references. There is absolutely no intelligible relation between National Socialism and the well-meaning bureaucrats processing migrants throughout Europe today. Chu, with a growing chorus of like-minded leftist reporters, thus engages in a patent abuse of history.
Even though "[n]one of these" three examples, Chu notes, "is exactly parallel or equivalent to the horrors of the Second World War," he goes on to describe the important ideological function of the three examples:
But they have been enough to arouse unsettling associations at a moment when the liberal values embraced by much of Europe in the ashes of that war are being severely tested by the thousands of people arriving here daily.
Well, do those "unsettling associations" make any sense? Are those "unsettling associations" the product of historically informed comparisons? Chu does not substantiate his Nazi analogy with any facts; he just takes us right back to one of the laughable examples that he floated earlier:
Czech authorities charged with registering and processing the newcomers … assigned numbers to each person – and wrote those numbers with felt-tipped pens on the refugees' outstretched hands.
This does not sound like Lebensraum so far. Chu goes on, writing, "What seemed a simple bureaucratic shortcut immediately produced uncomfortable evocations of the Holocaust, of death camp inmates whose arms were tattooed with prisoner numbers by the Nazis."
Chu does not, and cannot, explain the reasoning process by which a rational person would produce "uncomfortable evocations of the Holocaust" under these circumstances. In fact, it is nonsensical to evoke the Holocaust when peaceful European authorities are lawfully facilitating the purposeful entry of migrants who desire to enter Europe. To read the Holocaust into what is occurring in Europe requires the mind of either the slanderer or the ill-informed. Probably without searching very far, Chu located just such a mind: a "community leader" in Rome named Ruth Dureghello, who said of the written numbers, "It is an image we cannot bear, which brings to mind the entry procedures at Nazi extermination camps, when millions of men, women and children were marked with a number, like animals, before being sent to their deaths."
No matter what nightmares one may recall in historical memory, the migrants are unequivocally not on the way to extermination camps. According to the left-wing narrative of the migrant crisis, the migrants are actually escaping death by fleeing to Europe. The migrants struggled and pushed to enter the sanctuary of Europe; they chose to be where they are, and they are treated with utmost tolerance by authorities.
Chu's second example is just as manipulative. Yes, some migrants were "taken to camps they did not want to go to," but those were refugee camps where the migrants will live, not be exterminated. A refugee camp is not the "shadow" of a death camp.
Finally, Chu presents us with the shadow of the "authoritarian leader" who "declared that adherents of a particular religion were not wanted in Europe because they threaten its Christian identity." That "authoritarian leader" is Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban. The comparison is worse than far-fetched. Orban, unlike Hitler, does not suggest that a subset of Hungarian citizens be rounded up on the basis of their religion, deported, and then exterminated. Instead, he is voicing concern about an influx of non-citizens who have forced themselves into Europe. The migrants are not Hungarian citizens, and they generally do not face deportation, much less extermination. Orban does not appear to believe that he has any moral obligation to destabilize his society in order to accommodate cross-border population flows. This is not a call for pogroms, nor is this a "blood and soil" philosophy. In fact, Orban is calling for a border policy akin to that of the nation of Israel.
Chu states, "[T]he liberal values embraced by much of Europe in the ashes of [WWII] are being severely tested by the thousands of people arriving here daily." Could it be that today's leaders are misapplying "the liberal values embraced by much of Europe" after WWII? Could it even be that those unnamed liberal values have long outlived their usefulness?
One may be tempted to dismiss Chu's article as the ahistoric musing of a leftist hack, eager to score a few rhetorical points by invoking the Holocaust. Yet, according to Chu's L.A. Times bio, he attended Harvard and was selected as a Nieman Fellow there. How could it be that such a background could produce reasoning so spurious, with such disregard for factual accuracy?
If the left sees ghostly and ghastly shadows when Europe kindly accepts migrants, just imagine how the left-wing imagination will reel when Europe gets fed up and closes the door! Westerners might soon have to explain the difference between (1) rounding up citizens and targeting them for extermination, which the Nazis did, and (2) restricting unauthorized migrant entry – the approach Germany is already beginning to take.
John Bennett is a concerned citizen. Follow @Jthomasbennett on Twitter.