It almost feels like we are living through a chapter of history that we’d left behind. A minority is blamed and targeted, and most stand by and do nothing. Sound familiar?
On International Holocaust Remembrance Day American president, Donald Trump signed an executive order suspending all refugee resettlement for 120 days and indefinitely suspending the resettlement of refugees from Syria. Even green card holders, permanent residents were reported to have been refused re-entry to the United States.
The executive action does not explicitly single out members of a single faith, but the countries impacted are Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia – all Muslim nations. Trump also announced during his press conference that his order will help Christians to enter the US. You cannot claim that this is not about race or religion.
Trump claims that he is acting in the interest of the security of the United States, but the policy is foolhardy, it feeds the Isis narrative that there is a war between Islam and the west and that Muslims are not welcome. It is likely to increase the chance of further radicalisation and terror attacks upon the nation, not reduce them.
Nearly 80 years ago, US government officials, backed by the deliberately stoked fears of refugees, turned refugees away at the shores and sent men, women and children back to their deaths. America is better than this, better than surrendering to making the same mistakes of the past. Hope and ideals must triumph over fear and hatred.
Of course, It didn’t start in Germany with concentration camps, it started with laying the blame upon the Jews, registering them on lists, segregating them and making them second class citizens always to be blamed and suspicious of: then the state organised murder of millions. The Nazi’s claimed they were acting out in the interest of the defence of Germany, much the same as Trump’s rationale.
I’m not saying that Trump secretly has plans to try to exterminate the Muslim population, but history proves that one thing can lead to another very quickly, and Trump’s actions so far have proved that his campaign rhetoric was more than empty words. Trump’s actions are a major step toward carrying out his threat to ban the admission of Muslims into the US. Trump’s declaration that he would publish a weekly list of “crimes” committed by undocumented migrants is almost identical to the Nazi propaganda strategy of printing lists of crimes by “inferior” groups: there are parallels to be drawn.
Many in Britain may argue that this has nothing to do with us, that this is America’s problem to deal with, but that kind of attitude is exactly what lead to the conditions in which the Holocaust became possible. We all are being asked to decide what kind of world we want to live in, we must not simply turn the other cheek. Yes, Americans must lead the movement, but we must mobilise and stand arm in arm with them.
“IT WAS DURING THE HOLOCAUST THAT THE WORLD SHAMEFULLY REFUSED TO GIVE ASYLUM TO JEWS AND TO OTHERS WHO WERE BEING MURDERED OR ABOUT TO BE MURDERED IN NAZI GERMANY,” – MARK HETFIELD, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF THE HEBREW IMMIGRANT AID SOCIETY
We must also focus on pressuring our own government not to merely become a stooge to a racist demagogue, distancing ourselves is simply not good enough, Theresa May must be made to regret her decision not to condemn Trump’s order. Protests have already been seen the world around, and we must keep the pressure on – when Trump arrives in Britain we will likely see one of the biggest demonstrations in British history.
History proves that time only repeats itself if lessons are not learnt. The Holocaust is what happens when institutionalised hatred goes unchallenged, it tells us of the human capacity for evil, and what can happen when we turn a blind eye. This time we must make our voices heard – we can all hold ourselves collectively responsible if we simply stand by and do nothing.