Muslim Immigration Now vs. Jewish Immigration Then

The proponents of open immigration of Muslims to this country deride conservatives’ opinion that such legal immigration must be suspended until such time as we are able to vet the potential immigrants to eliminate any possible terrorists, which the FBI says we are unable to do now. They compare this cautionary measure proposed by conservatives to America’s refusal to admit to the United States in the 1930s Jewish escapees from Nazi Germany. In their opinion, we must let in all Muslims now to atone for our refusal to admit Jewish refugees from Nazism then. We hear this comparison from many liberal Jews, as well as from other progressives.   

The comparison, however is mendacious and invidious. Conservative commentators on television have a visceral negative reaction when liberals raise this argument. They know it is wrong, but the media seem unable to articulate how the comparison is false. Commentators on the conservative side are inarticulate and unconvincing when responding to this liberal comparison.

Here is the accurate and devastating refutation of the comparison of the rejection by the U.S. of Jewish refugees in the 1930s to suspending the admission to the U.S. of Syrian alleged refugees now. It is uncomfortable to discuss the attitude of our country at a time when Jews were trying to escape Germany with their lives, but the discussion is intrinsic to the debunking of this false comparison now.

Many of the refugee Jews escaping religious/racial discrimination in Germany, who were indeed returned there after being denied admission to the United States, died in death camps or while performing slave labor in Europe during WWII. But they were denied entry here, not because anyone thought we had to protect ourselves from them because they posed a danger to Americans. No one here conceived that the Jewish refugees would carry out terror attacks against Americans, sabotage American industry, or otherwise act against America’s interest should they be admitted to the United States. The suggestion would have been laughable.

These Jewish refugees were denied entry and safety here solely because of who and what they were: Jews. There was a high level of public anti-Semitism among Americans in the 1930s. This feeling was magnified by a U.S. Department of State riddled with anti-Semites, and due to DoS’s corporate culture of anti-Semitism. President Franklin Roosevelt, who would push the American public opinion envelope only when he felt he must, as in his progressively greater American aid to Britain in the run up to America’s entry into WWII in the face of contrary public and government cabinet-level pushback, chose not to help these German Jews who were not wanted by the American public or his State Department, even though those escapees were harmless, and pitifully few in number.

The contrast between then and now could not be more stark. The United States then, for base reasons which are truly un-American as we understand that term today, refused to admit a handful of German Jews who were returned to Europe to face their fate under the Nazis.  Conservative American leaders today, such as Senator Cruz, supported by their conservative and Republican base, by many Democrats, and by a majority of the American people, propose keeping Americans safe from people we know will cause us harm if they are among those admitted here. They are trying to do this by mandating the careful vetting of the thousands of Middle East potential immigrants to prevent the miscreants among them from entering this country. 

This is, in fact, the response the media has not been able to articulate, and the answer of all responsible Americans. It should be forcefully presented to refute the nonsensical charge that those who advocate keeping Americans safe are acting with racist malice as Americans did against the German Jews some 80 year ago; and that finally, finally, we as Americans are being given a chance to make up for our moral failure then. The charge is as inaccurate as it is odious.  It is comparing apples to hand grenades.