Are Syrians Like the Jewish Immigrants Fleeing Germany in 1939?
Anyone not wanting to accept Syrian refugees should really consider this historical analogy.
Following the weekend's terrorist attacks in Paris, many U.S. states are balking at the idea of welcoming Syrian refugees to their towns and cities. That hesitancy may prove a historical blunder, but it would not be without precedent.
Associate professor of history at Case Western Reserve University, Peter Shulman curates the Twitter account @HistOpinion. His recent tweets shed some essential historical light on the hesitancy to accept a struggling group of migrants in their time of need.
The year is 1939 and the U.S. is considering taking in 10,000 children fleeing Germany—"most of them Jewish." (The U.S. is currently preparing to accept 10,000 Syrians fleeing their war-torn country). Here is what the public thought at that time:
US Jan 20 ’39: Should the US government permit 10,000 mostly Jewish refugee children to come in from Germany? pic.twitter.com/5cFs5RabQn
— Historical Opinion (@HistOpinion) November 17, 2015
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We are constantly trying to force the world to look like us — we need to move on.
- When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, many Americans jumped for joy. At the time, some believed there weren't going to be any more political disagreements anywhere in the world. They thought American democracy had won the "war of ideas."
- American exceptionalism has sought to create a world order that's really a mirror image of ourselves — a liberal world order founded on the DNA of American thinking. To many abroad this looks like ethnic chauvinism.
- We need to move on from this way of thinking, and consider that sometimes "problem-solving," in global affairs, means the world makes us look like how it wants to be.