They escaped totalitarianism twice, only to see it again in America
Let me tell you about my wife’s family, formerly oppressed immigrants who came to this country legally, and love the USA as only formerly oppressed immigrants could. They are being mistreated over politics by some of their Carmel, Indiana, neighbors who should be very ashamed of themselves.
My father-in-law was born in Poland during a German bombing attack during World War II. All the neighbors huddled in the basement of the apartment building while his mother gave birth to him. She was on her own because his father was in the Polish Air Force based in the UK and fought in the Battle of Britain. which saved that country once and for all from the threat of a German invasion.
After enduring countless indignities and threats to life, my father-in-law endured the equally bad occupation of Poland by Russians who quickly established Communist control after the war. Because it was dangerous for Polish veterans to return home, when my father-in-law was 7 years old, and suffering from tuberculosis and malnutrition, he, his older brother, and his mother were literally smuggled out of Poland to finally meet his father.
The family moved to Argentina because they were not welcome in Great Britain after the war—even after their great military service to that nation. The British didn’t want to irritate their Soviet allies, so Poles were prevented from marching in victory parades in England!
My mother-in-law was born in the Catholic country of Croatia, which was then part of the nation of Yugoslavia. World War II was extremely bitter there, and we get our modern word “partisan” from the Croatian language.
Her grandfather was lined up against a wall and shot by Tito’s communist forces. They wanted her father too. He, a professor of languages, escaped to the first country he could, which happened to be Argentina. Nearly 10 years later, my mother-in-law and her family reunited there with her father.
Despite their difficult beginnings, both my in-laws made a life in Argentina. As college students studying neuroscience and chemistry, my parents-in-law fell in love, married, and had three daughters. As Argentina’s “dirty war” got underway in the mid-’70s, lasting until the early ’80s, life there was unstable and dangerous.
It is believed that the dictatorial Argentinian government killed as many as 30,000 suspected Communists. They simply disappeared without a trace -- never having had a trial or even a legitimate review of any evidence. As a child, my wife remembers her neighbors being shot in the street as suspected Communist sympathizers.
My parents-in-law ultimately decided they must leave Argentina and applied for research positions and professorships at universities around the world. They were both accepted at the Central Caribbean University in Puerto Rico. To them, Puerto Rico meant the United States, along with the freedom and security that it stood for to oppressed peoples all over the world.
They very excitedly moved to Puerto Rico and became proud American citizens. My wife, grateful that her family was safe for the first time in generations, volunteered and was accepted at the US Military Academy at West Point. She went on to serve as a captain in the 82d Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, and as fate would have it, she served in Bosnia and Croatia during the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.
About a year ago, and after 40 years of university work, my parents-in-law partially retired from teaching and research at the medical school, and moved to a middle-class home in Carmel, Indiana. They were able to vote in their very first presidential election because as Puerto Rico is not a state, people there cannot vote for president.
My father-in-law voted for Trump. He did not vote for the man, but for the ideas that Trump represented: Capitalism, the Constitution, the rule of law, being Pro-Life, and being relatively conservative. Whether or not you agree with father-in-law’s perceptions, for him, having seen socialism and fascism in many forms and the awful destruction they bring, he could not vote Democrat.
Not only did my father-in-law vote his conscience, but he also advocated for Trump. In time-honored American tradition, he had signs in his yard, a flag connected to his garage door, and a large banner across his driveway to the effect of “Want to turn the USA into Venezuela? – Vote for Biden Harris”.
When his signs were stolen, he sort of laughed it off. When his
American Trump flag was very meticulously cut up and parts left hanging on his garage door, he was saddened. As a response to this theft and vandalism, he left his “Venezuela” banner hanging across the driveway even after the election. Very recently, someone went to the trouble of cutting that banner into two pieces.
The neighbor across the street has an unmolested yard sign stating things like “Black Lives Matter, No One is Illegal, Water is Life” and some other Democrat slogans. You’ve probably seen them around. No one bothers it, of course. This contrast between how my parents-in-law have been treated and how progressives are treated is exactly what my wife’s family had hoped to escape from all those years ago. For them, it is an ominous sign.
Is that what we are evolving to in the United States? Will we continue to divide and eventually begin killing each other? We must learn to live together and speak to each other again – despite our political differences.
After all, this is Carmel, Indiana, I’m speaking of… a city consistently voted as one of the top places in America to live. Regardless of party affiliation, shouldn’t we be ashamed of and condemn these cowardly acts?
I am a 4th generation army veteran. My family, and especially my parents-in-law, who dearly love this country, should be safe, free, and happy in their retirement. What does their experience portend for our country as a whole?
IMAGE: Trump calls legal immigrant to stage. YouTube screengrab.