1939, and 2017

ship-2While in my 20s, I read the book, “Voyage of the Damned,” about the 1939 voyage of the MS St. Louis that carried just under 1,000 German Jews to Cuba in hopes of escaping Hitler’s murderous rampage against European Jews. When Cuba refused to accept them, they tried the U.S. but were also turned away. In the end, 600 of the 937 passengers lost their lives in Nazi concentration camps. America gave in to isolationism until we were attacked on December 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor.

I have often wondered in the years since where I would have been in 1939, ideologically. Would I have agreed with banning the Jewish immigrants, or would I have been against the government’s decision? I wanted to believe I would have been more compassionate.

Now, in 2017, I know my answer. We are once again at an immigration crossroads in this country, this time with brown-skinned people. My issue with the Executive Order travel ban was the haphazard way it was executed, turning legal immigrants around when they arrived in New York and D.C., pulling them off planes on their way to the U.S., or blocking them from leaving their home countries even though all had properly-obtained visas.

My sympathies were with the immigrants. These are tenuous and unsettled times. These are terrifying times for many. We cannot open our borders to absolutely everyone, but when we harden our hearts to the plight of others, we have lost our humanity.

Where are the other compassionate conservatives, those who were once sympathetic to the hardship of the less fortunate? Some, sadly, have joined the anti-immigrant band wagon, no matter what. There are more compassionate conservatives out there somewhere — there have to be — because not only are Americans turning on immigrants, but Americans are also turning on fellow Americans.

We are on a dubious journey in our nation….

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