Last week I posted about a new Ken Burns documentary, Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War. I linked to a New York Times article by Nicholas Kristof, who rightly praised the courage of the Sharps and other “righteous Gentiles” who risked their lives to save Jews from Hitler’s beastiality. He spoke of how world governments rejected Jewish refugees, dooming many of them to death, while individuals (including a few “rogue” individuals within government bureaucracies) saved Jewish lives.
Unfortunately, Kristof also used his NYT pulpit to try to guilt-trip contemporary readers and leaders into being more liberal in acceptance of today’s headline refugees, Muslims from the chaotic Middle East.
Now comes another article on the documentary, this time from the Washington Post, which is less agenda-driven, but still quotes a White House official who uses a screening of the film to promote more U.S. acceptance of Muslim refugees:
“The Sharps are the better angels of America,” said Deputy Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken last week at a White House screening for scholars, diplomats, Holocaust survivors and other dignitaries. (The Obamas did not attend.) The film, Blinken said, humanizes relief work at a time when the world needs to do far more to aid refugees from war-torn Syria and elsewhere.
In the NYT, Kristof wrote: “As today’s leaders gather for their summit sessions, they should remember that history eventually sides with those who help refugees, not with those who vilify them.”
And generally, that’s true. Generally.
I’ve lived among immigrants all my life, including spending a couple of years in a neighborhood of resettled Southeast Asian war refugees. Although the first members of my mother’s family arrived in the American colonies before the Revolution, on my father’s side I’m not far removed from starving Irish peasants who arrived in “coffin ships” and were caricatured by the natives as dumb apes. I’ve seen first-hand how immigrants have been stereotyped. And I know how refugees have enriched, and continue to enrich, our culture.
I am also an individualist who believes that every person deserves to be considered on his or her own merits. So it pains me on two counts to say this. But urging acceptance of Muslim refugees based on the fact that other refugees, in other times, have enriched our culture — or based on guilt because “we” didn’t aid WWII-era Jewish refugees who deserved rescue — is bogus.
From Paris to Minnesota, wherever in the West communities of Middle Eastern or African Muslims have been settled, terrorism has followed. Free speech becomes a capital offense. Women suffer. And Jews are in particular peril. Just ask the Jewish population of France — formerly of France, now fleeing the country.
Elitists, from their WaPost or Gray Lady perches, urge toleration for those who won’t tolerate us, acceptance for those who won’t accept us, and peace toward those who bring with them random violence in the name Allah. But of course Nicholas Kristof and his kind aren’t going to have to live in the Muslim neighborhoods where even police dare not go. They’re not going to be shopping in the malls or attending the schools that will be attacked. They’re going to be comfortable in their gated communities. When horrors happen, they can continue pontificating about tolerance — and oh by the way, the need for fewer guns in the hands of We the Peasants, more surveillance, more “security,” and less of that nasty, messy freedom.
Some Jews, whose ancestors were granted life in the West when they were desperate refugees from Nazism, now join the call for embracing Muslim refugees. Maybe it’s a generous, kind-hearted, and decent impulse.
But these remind me of the Jews who meaninglessly cry, “Never again!” while actively working to disarm all innocents, leaving us at the mercy of anyone with few scruples and evil intentions.