First appeared in Maine Insights
Editorial By Neil Rolde
In my last BLOG, which dealt with refugees and was posted well before the ISIS atrocities in Paris, I predicted the reaction in Congress to support for Syrian refugees. The exact words of my final sentence were: “One can read the handwriting on the wall for any substantial help for the Syrians while this Congress is in office.”
I stick by my prediction even though the initial thrust now post-Paris is coming mostly from Republican Governors, 29 of them to date who are barring Syrian refugees from their States and one Democrat Governor who has joined the pack. There may well be more as the current wave of hysteria is exploited.
Interesting. These persons are undoubtedly all fervent supporters of the U.S. Constitution. But does the Constitution allow them to bar persons legally in the country to enter their States. Could they keep me out of Mississippi because I’m a Democrat? Don’t tell them. I was just there last spring.
Historically speaking, the same canard that was used post 1933 and Hitler’s taking power in Germany to keep Jewish victims of the Nazis out of the U.S. is now once more in play. Spies and saboteurs would sneak in among the persecuted. Or the genuine persecuted among us would be blackmailed into helping the bad guys out of fear for their relatives still overseas. No better let the Jews and anti-Nazis be pushed around. After the gas chambers and crematoria were discovered, some apologies were offered.
Will that become the case in the future after this slamming of doors in the face of the Syrians is seen in retrospect? One can – and no doubt will – argue there is a difference here – these are terrorists, cold-blooded killers, and can wreak havoc – and cited will be the havoc that eight radical Islamists have wrought in my beloved Paris.
How did the French react? They went to the cafes in defiance. No panic. True, the anti-immigrant forces may be strengthened and we might see that in the next elections. But France’s heritage as a bastion of Liberty will survive as it did the crypto-fascism of Vichy during World War II.
The U.S. heritage is also – at least after the end of slavery in 1865 – that of a bastion of Liberty. Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933, when we Americans were having a panic attack and Hitler imitators could hold a rally in Madison Square Garden, wisely said: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
If we are afraid our security forces, which cost us billions, can’t handle the situation then indeed we are wasting money.
Oh, by the way, in the 1930’s and 1940’s, when the word was out that Jews in this country would spy and sabotage for the Nazis to save their relatives, the FBI was asked if they had any cases. They said Yes – they knew of two instances – but that was out of half a million refugees we did take in.
In our panic subsequently after Pearl Harbor, we put thousands of Japanese into internment camps. (photo below) Eventually the young men imprisoned there went to fight for our and their country, not in the Pacific but in Europe where the Nisei proved to be among the fiercest and most successful of our fighting units. We were not very proud of what we did to these people just as we will not be very proud in the future of what we seem poised to do in the case of the Syrians or even, if some loudmouths have their way, all Moslem-Americans.
Admittedly, we do panic and we do make mistakes that we rue afterward and innocent people do suffer. But our history has shown that demagogues come and go over here.
We should not, and must not, give the fanatical power-seeking Muslim terrorist killers and those behind them a victory.