#NeverAgain, Except Right Now
On Friday, January 27, 2017, the 45th President of the United States issued an executive order to “indefinitely suspend the resettlement of Syrian refugees and temporarily ban people from seven predominantly Muslim nations from entering the United States.” This effectively barred families fleeing slaughter and tyranny from entering the country that hangs the words “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses,” on its very door.
To those shocked by this act of cruelty, I offer a chilling reminder that this is not the first time America has turned refugees away at its gate. A country that prides itself on Christian values (let’s forget all arguments of separation of church and state — we can no longer feign ignorance on that matter) has often claimed to have no room at the inn.
In the early summer of 1939, the United States refused entry to over 900 Jewish refugees who had sailed from Hamburg on the St. Louis. Because of that refusal, the ship returned to Europe. 28% of the passengers of the St. Louis died in the Holocaust. Of the 620 passengers that returned to the shores they ran from, just over half would survive the war.
On January 27, 2017, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan tweeted this:
On this #HolocaustMemorialDay, we remember the millions of innocent lives lost, and pledge #NeverAgain.
#NeverAgain. Apparently the millions of innocent lives that were lost in the Holocaust count more than the thousands who have already perished at the hands of the Syrian Civil War. Apparently #NeverAgain, means except for today and tomorrow and whenever it is politically easier for me to ignore the cries of humanity and the basic values this country was founded on. Apparently, it is easy for Speaker Ryan to read about Anne Frank and repudiate her suffering, conveniently forgetting that her family applied and was refused asylum by the very nation he holds so dear. Apparently, it is not a tragedy for members of the GOP if the lives that are lost at the hands of evil men are brown lives. Muslim lives.
The same day this executive order was being signed, thousands of anti-abortion protesters attended the annual March for Life in Washington, DC. According to their website, this organization envisions “a world where every human life is valued and protected.” You would think they would be the very first to stand up and fight for the refugees who are searching for someone to value and protect their lives. An organization that prides itself on the “dignity of each human being,” should be absolutely disgusted by the death sentence Donald Trump has leveled on these people. You would think that Jeanne Mancini, the President of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, would be in the streets, at the airports, at the White House demanding a reversal of a law that so clearly violates the principles that she stands for. You would think she would at least tweet about it.
This is Ms. Mancini’s latest tweet.
Apparently the Republican Party has an understanding of life that I do not. They are clearly aware of different levels of value that should be placed on certain members of humanity. They must know of some spiritual caste system that I wasn’t taught about during my liberal upbringing. That’s the only reason why they could so easily and calmly claim to be pro-life whilst handing down death sentences to children and families fleeing war zones.
Or maybe they’re just racist xenophobes.