'Activism' gets Choosy

There are few limits to the self-adulation of virtue signalers. In the June 07, 2019 posting from the San Francisco Jewish Community Relations Council, there is an article from its sister group in nearby Silicon Valley about its journey to the San Diego border to assist “refugees.”

The journey is described in contrasts between despair and hope and with more breathlessness than John Hanning Speke’s lecture to the Royal Geographic Society about discovering the headwaters of the Nile.

“Our hearts were full as we helped serve lunch to the people in the shelter...” The article recounts with enthusiasm.

Coming upon a group of women sitting where children were playing, the JCRC group asked, through translators, why the women came to America. “Abusive husbands, gang violence, lack of economic opportunity to provide for their children were among the reasons. We asked what would they most like? Their answer: To be treated as human beings, with dignity (emphasis, JCRC).

None of these reasons remotely qualify anyone for refugee status. If the community organizers that traveled some 500 miles from Silicon Valley to the San Diego border were truly interested in these humanitarian problems, all they had to do was join their JCRC colleagues in San Francisco, walk out the door of their office, and travel just under a mile to view America’s pitiful humanity living in third-world conditions on Market and Mission Streets.

Unlike the “refugees,” San Francisco’s homeless are not regularly served meals or have access to toilet and bathing facilities. They do not sleep on mattresses with roofs over their heads. They do sleep on cardboard in doorways to protect themselves from the cold night winds off the ocean. They do visibly defecate in the streets and on the sidewalks causing a major health hazard.

They too want to be treated as human beings, with dignity. But generally, they are stepped over, literally and politically, presenting a humanitarian crisis the city of San Francisco and neighboring communities seem incapable of solving. And one that many local virtue signalers choose to ignore.

Estimates of the composition of the San Francisco homeless are difficult, but it is generally believed that at least 10% of them are veterans, disproportionately blacks and Latinos. Another 13% have been evicted, economically displaced by area rents that can only be described as obscene.

The rest are a combination of illegal aliens, the mentally ill, the addicted, LBGTQ teenagers and transitional adults discarded by their families, and women afraid to go home or who have lost their homes because of divorce or separation. Those categories are obviously not mutually exclusive.

If the concern is about children and young adults, 21% of the San Francisco homeless are under 25 years of age, and the overwhelming majority of them are unsheltered. Some 6% are unaccompanied minors.

So, why go to the border to deal with social problems that exist in abundance right up the road from Silicon Valley and just out the door and down the street from the JCRC’s San Francisco offices?

The answer is obvious. Helping our poor is a difficult, time consuming, and largely unrewarding if you need the affirmation of others. You cannot virtue signal the way you can by going to the border.

And lest one think that it is just Jewish community organizers that amass virtue off of faux refugees, this group included a member of Catholic Charities and several state legislators. All of whom, I am sure, “kvelled” when serving meals to the illegals, something they probably never tried to do on the streets of San Francisco, in the tent cities along I80 by Berkeley, or underneath the Oakland maze just across San Francisco Bay.

But if I have an objection to Jews doing this, it is because no sooner than I begin reading this type of display of self-exaltation then I know some grotesquely misleading comparison with the Holocaust and Jewish refugees is in the offing.

I was not disappointed, for at the bottom of the article is just that sort of reminder: “80 years ago today, the U.S. turned away the MS St. Louis. A ship full of German Jews seeking asylum from Nazi persecution was sent back to Europe, resulting in the murder of 254 of the Jews on board. Our history leads us to take action today on behalf of refugees.”

This is an offense to the memory of Jews who were not just persecuted for their religion by an empowered government but whose persecution had also been enshrined in law four years earlier. The Nuremberg Laws had removed Jews from the structure of the legal system by denying them the status of “juridical man.”

Economic migrants or those fleeing spousal abuse and gang-torn neighborhoods do not compare, morally or legally, with the refugees of Nazi Germany.  Of applications for asylum from Central American countries, only 4.7% of the claims are found to be real asylum seekers. The rest are unqualified economic migrants. Some people at the border are not the parents of the children who accompany them.

These Holocaust-era comparisons are as repulsive as they are historically, morally, and legally inaccurate. They diminish the brutal reality of the Holocaust as much as any offensive and anti-Semitic statement from the likes of Alexandria Octavio-Cortez.

If the JCRC wants to help America’s discarded souls and embrace the ongoing and admirable work of the Jewish Federation’s charity programs, there are plenty of needy people just out their doors, but they do not come accompanied with a display of self-congratulations, not in an era where we step over our own human crises to solve those of the rest of the world.

Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science and a distinguished fellow with the Haym Salomon Center.

There are few limits to the self-adulation of virtue signalers. In the June 07, 2019 posting from the San Francisco Jewish Community Relations Council, there is an article from its sister group in nearby Silicon Valley about its journey to the San Diego border to assist “refugees.”

The journey is described in contrasts between despair and hope and with more breathlessness than John Hanning Speke’s lecture to the Royal Geographic Society about discovering the headwaters of the Nile.

“Our hearts were full as we helped serve lunch to the people in the shelter...” The article recounts with enthusiasm.

Coming upon a group of women sitting where children were playing, the JCRC group asked, through translators, why the women came to America. “Abusive husbands, gang violence, lack of economic opportunity to provide for their children were among the reasons. We asked what would they most like? Their answer: To be treated as human beings, with dignity (emphasis, JCRC).

None of these reasons remotely qualify anyone for refugee status. If the community organizers that traveled some 500 miles from Silicon Valley to the San Diego border were truly interested in these humanitarian problems, all they had to do was join their JCRC colleagues in San Francisco, walk out the door of their office, and travel just under a mile to view America’s pitiful humanity living in third-world conditions on Market and Mission Streets.

Unlike the “refugees,” San Francisco’s homeless are not regularly served meals or have access to toilet and bathing facilities. They do not sleep on mattresses with roofs over their heads. They do sleep on cardboard in doorways to protect themselves from the cold night winds off the ocean. They do visibly defecate in the streets and on the sidewalks causing a major health hazard.

They too want to be treated as human beings, with dignity. But generally, they are stepped over, literally and politically, presenting a humanitarian crisis the city of San Francisco and neighboring communities seem incapable of solving. And one that many local virtue signalers choose to ignore.

Estimates of the composition of the San Francisco homeless are difficult, but it is generally believed that at least 10% of them are veterans, disproportionately blacks and Latinos. Another 13% have been evicted, economically displaced by area rents that can only be described as obscene.

The rest are a combination of illegal aliens, the mentally ill, the addicted, LBGTQ teenagers and transitional adults discarded by their families, and women afraid to go home or who have lost their homes because of divorce or separation. Those categories are obviously not mutually exclusive.

If the concern is about children and young adults, 21% of the San Francisco homeless are under 25 years of age, and the overwhelming majority of them are unsheltered. Some 6% are unaccompanied minors.

So, why go to the border to deal with social problems that exist in abundance right up the road from Silicon Valley and just out the door and down the street from the JCRC’s San Francisco offices?

The answer is obvious. Helping our poor is a difficult, time consuming, and largely unrewarding if you need the affirmation of others. You cannot virtue signal the way you can by going to the border.

And lest one think that it is just Jewish community organizers that amass virtue off of faux refugees, this group included a member of Catholic Charities and several state legislators. All of whom, I am sure, “kvelled” when serving meals to the illegals, something they probably never tried to do on the streets of San Francisco, in the tent cities along I80 by Berkeley, or underneath the Oakland maze just across San Francisco Bay.

But if I have an objection to Jews doing this, it is because no sooner than I begin reading this type of display of self-exaltation then I know some grotesquely misleading comparison with the Holocaust and Jewish refugees is in the offing.

I was not disappointed, for at the bottom of the article is just that sort of reminder: “80 years ago today, the U.S. turned away the MS St. Louis. A ship full of German Jews seeking asylum from Nazi persecution was sent back to Europe, resulting in the murder of 254 of the Jews on board. Our history leads us to take action today on behalf of refugees.”

This is an offense to the memory of Jews who were not just persecuted for their religion by an empowered government but whose persecution had also been enshrined in law four years earlier. The Nuremberg Laws had removed Jews from the structure of the legal system by denying them the status of “juridical man.”

Economic migrants or those fleeing spousal abuse and gang-torn neighborhoods do not compare, morally or legally, with the refugees of Nazi Germany.  Of applications for asylum from Central American countries, only 4.7% of the claims are found to be real asylum seekers. The rest are unqualified economic migrants. Some people at the border are not the parents of the children who accompany them.

These Holocaust-era comparisons are as repulsive as they are historically, morally, and legally inaccurate. They diminish the brutal reality of the Holocaust as much as any offensive and anti-Semitic statement from the likes of Alexandria Octavio-Cortez.

If the JCRC wants to help America’s discarded souls and embrace the ongoing and admirable work of the Jewish Federation’s charity programs, there are plenty of needy people just out their doors, but they do not come accompanied with a display of self-congratulations, not in an era where we step over our own human crises to solve those of the rest of the world.

Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science and a distinguished fellow with the Haym Salomon Center.