LETTER: A history lesson about letting refugees into the United States

USA

In his July 25 column, Wayne Allyn Root writes, “We should not be in a hurry to let people from violent, terror-filled countries into the United States. We have to be choosy who we let in our country”.

Many people are unaware that in June 1939 at the port of Miami, the United States turned away a ship full of people on the German ocean liner St. Louis. Virtually all of the passengers were Jews — 937 of them. And the violent, terror-filled country they were fleeing was Nazi Germany. In time, more than 200 of those would-be asylum-seekers died in the Holocaust.

In the World War II era, it was U.S. policy to reject most European Jew asylum-seekers because they were considered, without evidence, to be security risks. The justification (never proven) was that the Nazis could use their relatives in concentration camps as leverage to spy for Germany.

Mr. Root and people like him obviously consider the lives of people who look differently and talk funny to be expendable. To them, the violent deaths of these people and their children are a small sacrifice to be paid so that some of us in this country can be “choosy.”

Finally, Lee Atwater, when terminally ill, apologized many times for the “naked cruelty” of Mr. Root’s beloved Willie Horton ad. It’s now considered the gold standard of the racist dog whistle genre of political attacks.

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