We Can Never Forget, and We Must Not Repeat


NEVER FORGET

Remembering the Holocaust in the Time of Trump, When Jews Fleeing Horror Were Denied Asylum in America

A long-buried documentary, co-directed by Alfred Hitchcock and produced by Sidney Bernstein, provides unequivocal proof of the Holocaust’s horrors. Bernstein’s daughter, Jane Wells, opens up about the film—and why Donald Trump and Jared Kushner should see it.

MARLOW STERN

This Friday marked Holocaust Remembrance Day, the 72nd anniversary of the Soviet liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau—a network of Nazi concentration and extermination camps that claimed the lives of an estimated 1.5 million people, most of them Jews. President Donald Trump chose to commemorate the occasion by releasing a public statement omitting any mention of Jews or the scourge of anti-Semitism (breaking with past GOP and Democratic tradition), and signing an executive order barring refugees and citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, including Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and Sudan.

“It’s repulsive,” Mark Hetfield, president and CEO of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, told CNN. “I mean, the timing is incredibly offensive. 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.”

Indeed, during the Holocaust, as millions of Jews were being slaughtered by the Nazis, the United States enforced strict immigration quotas against Jews from Germany and Eastern Europe.

In June 1939, the ocean liner St. Louis sailed into the Port of Miami with 937 refugees onboard—nearly all Jewish and seeking asylum in the United States. They’d already been turned away from Cuba and Canada, and when they were denied entry into America, the ship was forced to return to Europe where many of its passengers were killed in the Holocaust. Even Anne Frank’s family made several desperate attempts to emigrate from Europe to America, only to be denied visas.

This closed-door policy was an extension of the Immigration Act of 1924, which sought to, in the words of dissenting Jewish-American politician Emmanuel Celler, create “a distinct American identity by favoring native-born Americans over Southern and Eastern Europeans in order to ‘maintain the racial preponderance of the basic strain on our people and thereby to stabilize the ethnic composition of the population.’” Both Congress and the public believed that these Southern and Eastern European immigrants, many of whom were Jewish, would take away jobs from Americans plagued by the Depression, and were racially inferior. Asians and Arabs were banned entirely.

A scene from the documentary 'German Concentration Camps Factual Survey.'

COURTESY OF 3GENERATIONS

A scene from ‘German Concentration Camps Factual Survey.’

There was also widespread paranoia concerning a “fifth column,” or the theory that, should Germany or Japan invade the U.S., embedded spies from those countries would help destroy America from the inside. This led to the cruel internment of Japanese-Americans, and the curbing of U.S. visas to those from Axis countries.

At a June 5, 1940, press conference, President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated: “Now, of course, the refugee has got to be checked because, unfortunately, among the refugees there are some spies, as has been found in other countries. And not all of them are voluntary spies—it is rather a horrible story but in some of the other countries that refugees out of Germany have gone to, especially Jewish refugees, they found a number of definitely proven spies.”

This fear of immigrant spies was mostly just that. With the exception of a few highly publicized cases, including that of 28-year-old German Herbert Karl Friedrich Bahr, there’s been no evidence of a mass influx of immigrant spies during this time. In fact, there exist striking parallels to the GOP and President Trump’s Muslim immigrant panic of today, given that, of the 784,000 refugees settled in America between September 11, 2001, and October 2015, only three have been arrested for plotting terrorist acts. “And it is worth noting two were not planning an attack in the United States and the plans of the third were barely credible,” wrote Kathleen Newland of the Migration Policy Institute. The terrorists behind the San Bernardino shooting, Pulse nightclub massacre, and Boston Marathon bombing were all U.S. citizens.

Earlier this month, the film German Concentration Camps Factual Survey was quietly released into select North American theaters. Produced by Sidney Bernstein, advisor to the British Ministry of Information, and co-directed by his pal Alfred Hitchcock, the documentary is comprised of footage shot by Allied American, British, Soviet, and Canadian combat cameramen as they liberated ten concentration camps, including Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald, Dachau, and Majdanek. The images are unforgettable, from Nazi physician Fritz Klein being interviewed on top of a pile of bodies at Bergen-Belsen to long, uninterrupted pans capturing stacks of eyeglasses, wedding rings, toothbrushes, human teeth, and bags of hair collected by the Nazis. There are even collections of lampshades made of human skin.

“The panning shots were Hitchcock’s idea,” says Jane Wells, the daughter of Bernstein whose non-profit, 3generations, put out Factual Survey. Hitchcock advised Bernstein and his crew of soldier-documentarians by phone, and suggested the continuous takes because “he felt that people wouldn’t believe what they were seeing otherwise.”

Unfortunately, the film was never completed for a variety of reasons. It wasn’t until 2008 that the Imperial War Museum, using the original filmmakers’ rough cut, script, and shot list, finalized the editing process. The 75-minute finished film premiered 69 years after it was shot, at the 2014 Berlin International Film Festival.

“I tried to enumerate the different explanations,” Wells tells me, before taking out a notepad and reading from it. “One was the fear it would alienate Germans when they were trying to rebuild Germany after the war. The second one is the British government didn’t want to build support for a Zionist state. The third is they didn’t want to create undue sympathy for Jews in particular, or to single Jews out for poor treatment. And the fourth one, which is the Imperial War Museum’s theory, is that its time had come and it had missed its moment.”

Its shelving was devastating to Bernstein, who refused to speak publicly about what Wells calls his “great secret” until he was interviewed for the 1985 documentary A Painful Reminder, which contained footage from his film. Parts of Factual Survey were also used in Billy Wilder’s 22-minute concentration camp documentary Death Mills (Die Todesmühlen), released in January 1946.

“Unless the world learns the lesson these pictures teach, night will fall,” Factual Survey’s narrator says. And according to Wells, “it’s hard not to see the parallel to today,” given the rise of white nationalism in the U.S. and abroad corresponding with the rise of Trump, candidate Trump dog-whistling to white nationalists during his campaign by sharing anti-Semitic memes that originated on neo-Nazi online message boards, and the ascendance of Steve Bannon, former overlord of the “alt-right” publication Breitbart turned Trump right-hand man, who’s been accused of serial anti-Semitism.

A scene from the documentary 'German Concentration Camps Factual Survey.'

COURTESY OF 3GENERATIONS

A scene from ‘German Concentration Camps Factual Survey.’

“To me, it’s horrific. I’d love to invite the President and Jared Kushner to come see this film, and love to encourage any Jews who supported Trump to come see this film. I know Jews who voted for Trump, and if you ask them about the rise of white nationalism or the ‘alt-right’ in the wake of Trump, they’ll say, ‘Oh, well his son-in-law is a Jew! His daughter keeps a kosher kitchen, how bad can it be?’” say Wells. “The rise of the ‘alt-right’ is completely awful. The way Jews have been called out on Twitter is horrible and disgraceful. I’d like some of these ‘alt-right’ people to also come see this film and try and explain to me why they think this didn’t happen or didn’t matter.”

“If you see this footage, “ she adds, “there is no way on God’s earth that you can argue this didn’t happen.”

Wells had initially planned to release German Concentration Camps Factual Survey theatrically on Jan. 27, 2015, in honor of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The film didn’t make it to cinemas until January 6thof this year, but she believes that, given the Syrian refugee crisis, it “will have more of an impact today than it would have even then.”

“It is a cry for reconnecting to our humanity, and I think that is a message that is very resonant today,” offers Wells. “When I look at the atrocities that are happening in Syria today, when I look at the situation with Native Americans in North Dakota, when I look at the rise of the fascistic far-right globally, it seems like we have forgotten some of our common humanity.”

 

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WORLD HISTORY ARCHIVE / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

‘BEWARE THE BEGINNINGS’

How the Nazis Took Control of Germany

Hitler was not that popular when he first took office, but the Nazis quickly changed that, for the simple reason that power magnifies the ideas of those who hold it.

PETER HAYES

Today, Jan. 27, marks the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. That event did not mark the end of the Holocaust—gassings continued until the eve of Hitler’s suicide on April 30, 1945, and thousands more died of the effects of starvation and mistreatment at places like Belsen even weeks after their liberation.

But Jan. 27 should put us in mind of the beginnings. How did this happen? In particular, how could Germany, by all outward indications a civilized and modern country, become a persecuting society, brutally indifferent to the fates of anyone outside its supposed “people’s community”?

These questions should worry people for all time.

Adolf Hitler was a minority choice to lead his country; when he took office, roughly 55 percent of Germans had never voted for him. Anti-semitism was prevalent in German culture but by no means dominant or respectable. The nation’s elites (the establishment) generally regarded the Nazi führer with disdain and mistrust and doubted his capacity to run a government, given his complete lack of experience at doing so. The consensus about the Nazis’ wild-eyed promises was captured by the oft-repeated German proverb, “Nothing is eaten as hot as it’s cooked.”

Six years later, most Germans were acquiescing, and many of them were trying to benefit from, the complete humiliation and dispossession of German Jews, their demotion to “subjects” of the Reich, and their forced expulsion from the country. Three more years on, most Germans, including those elite corporate leaders and civil servants who scorned Hitler in 1933, were not just turning a blind eye to, but facilitating enslavement and mass murder… and finding a great many helpers in the Axis-occupied and Axis-allied regions of Europe.

The key to understanding the transformation of Germans’ behavior is straightforward: power magnifies the ideas of those who hold it. Power enabled the Nazi regime to unleash the haters, to intimidate the squeamish, and to change the moral valence of prejudice from something frowned upon to something glorified as patriotic. Once that happened, individual self-interest took care of the rest.

Above all, power enabled the propagandists for Nazism to divide the world relentlessly into Us vs. Them and to shut down more nuanced perspectives. To Germans, the world became a perpetual struggle between poor, virtuous, and victimized Us, and malevolent, conspiratorial, and implacable Them. In such an unforgiving environment, all means of self-defense were justified, including preemptively striking Them—taking their rights away, concentrating them in camps and ghettos, wiping them out—before they supposedly had a chance to do their worst.

Demonization of “Them” is always the first step toward persecution and genocide. And an essential prerequisite for demonization is its proponents’ sense of victimization, of having been or being about to be robbed of a birthright. The adherents of modern anti-semitism, not only in Germany but elsewhere in Europe, were people displaced and diminished by the Industrial Revolution and threatened by the specter of communism. In our own day, the devotees of nativist populism, not only in the U.S. but also in Europe, are people declassed and disoriented by the digital revolution and alarmed by the rise of Islamism. Will they go the way of the Nazis toward ever escalating paranoia and persecution?

Only if governments help them. Populist movements, on their own, can’t make persecuting societies or generate genocides. These phenomena need office-holders to countenance, stimulate, and implement hatred. Only when powerful leaders choose to let discrimination and violence take hold, and then to accelerate these lusts, does systematic degradation, let alone mass murder, result.

That is the challenge the Holocaust poses all these years later: Which way will political leaders go? Toward feeding angry and vengeful segments of public opinion or toward promoting pluralism and progress? Because the prospects look chancy right now, we should all recall the words of another German proverb—“Beware the Beginnings”—and be ready to act on it.

Peter Hayes is professor of history and German and Theodore Zev Weiss Holocaust Educational Foundation professor of Holocaust studies emeritus at Northwestern University. W. W. Norton & Co. published his new book,Why? Explaining the Holocaust, on Jan. 17.

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I am sharing this with you because we just celebrated Holocaust Remembrance Day. Trump made a statement in which he mentioned all of the victimized people except the Jews. The Jews do know they weren’t the only people to be targeted; so were the Gypsies and  the Poles, the disabled, Catholics and homosexuals. Six million Jews were gassed, burned, died due to medical experiments, died from starvation, disease and exposure to the elements.

 

It is very dangerous when a leader goes after one particular group of people; when people in power say the “others” were less than human, responsible for all of the things that Germans found wrong with their lives; these “others” were sneaky and not to be trusted. We now have a man in the White House who is targeting Muslims, refugees, homosexuals and non-Christians, in exactly the same way, with most of the same rhetoric. How much is he capable of doing? Is he able to begin to round up people from these groups? Only time will tell.

 

In the meantime, I want to remind everyone that we all live here on this fairly small planet. I do believe in science, and science tells us the planet is suffering from our lack of proper stewardship. We are all brothers and sisters despite the minor differences between us. Whether you are black, red, brown, yellow, or white, we are all equal. Yes, I know that some people  say there is a difference but they are wrong. Those who savor their entitlement want to be at the top of the heap, but we all make a beautiful colorful mix together at the bottom.

 

No one race is better than another, no one religion is better than another. There is no reason to defile Islam by shedding innocent lives. There is no reason to condemn Shiites or Sunnis. Each is a journey to Allah.  Or Adonai. Or Buddha. Or any of the other Beautiful Names which people use when they speak of God. We are all children of the Universe, made from stardust. It matters not by what name we call God. Our prayers are heard, our petitions are accepted, and our gratitude pleases.

 

I believe Trump wants to divide people even more than they already are. I believe it is important to unite together to give support to each other, so no one ever has to stand alone. I am ready to register as a Muslim. I hope many of you will be also. Let us do what is right not what is expected.

 

Namaste

Barbara

Muslims at the Pentagon Brace for Trump Administration


The uncertainty that settled upon many of the citizens in America since the election has not bypassed a lot of these federal workers.  This is what they are fearing.
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PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY LYNE LUCIEN/THE DAILY BEAST

‘ANTICIPATORY FREAKOUT’

Muslims at the Pentagon Brace for Trump Administration

For Muslims inside the national-security apparatus whom the Obama administration welcomed with open arms, fear of Trump is already pervasive, U.S. officials tell The Daily Beast.

NANCY A. YOUSSEF

11.22.16 1:13 AM ET

Donald Trump’s inauguration may be 58 days away, but for the Muslim officials once welcomed into the U.S. government’s war on terrorism, the change already has begun.

Four U.S. officials who spoke to The Daily Beast said fear is pervasive among Muslims inside the halls of the Pentagon, the CIA, and the Department of Homeland Security in anticipation of a Trump administration. Already, the officials said, they are seeing colleagues who are less willing to share their thoughts about national security. They fear they will no longer be seen as an asset to confronting terrorism but rather suspect members of the government they serve.

It is, one U.S. official explained, a climate of “anticipatory freakout.”

Muslim employees at the Pentagon, both civilian and military, were reticent to talk about their fears, even in a building where there are Muslim services every Friday.

“I am scared to speak,” one civilian told The Daily Beast. “We don’t know what it is going to mean for us.”

Will Muslim CIA agents be asked to register? Will the next commander in chief ban the family of Muslim troops from visiting this country? Will Muslim members of the Department of Homeland Security face increased scrutiny based on their faith?

“It’s one thing to attack your argument. It’s another to attack your person. And that is what people fear: that if they speak up too much, they will be attacked,” the U.S. official continued.

“You are less likely to speak up if you are against the prevailing view. Before, that was not a consideration.”

Managers throughout the departments already are trying to calm staffers, reassuring them they will not be treated differently by those around them.

It is not just Muslims who are worried. Gays and lesbians, African Americans, Hispanics, and women all have expressed some level of concern. After all, the national-security community has historically lagged behind other government agencies when it comes to embracing diversity.

It was not until a 1995 executive order that gays and lesbians could serve openly in national-security jobs and get clearances. At the same time, women climbed the ranks of the agencies, most notably in 1997, when Madeleine Albright became the first female secretary of State, the highest national-security position ever held by a woman. Post-9/11, two presidents publicly spoke on behalf of Muslims and said they are a part of the American fabric, not a segment of the population that should be equated with extremists.

According to the White House, minorities now make up 20 percent of senior diplomats and 15 percent of senior military officers and intelligence officials.

Despite that, the fear these days among Muslims especially is born out of both the rhetoric of the election and, more recently, Trump’s picks so far for his national-security team. Ret. Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the incoming national security adviser, has called fear of Muslims “rational.” On Sunday, Reince Priebus said on Meet the Press that while there was no plan for a Muslim registry, “I’m not going to rule out anything.”

Also Sunday, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach met with Trump and was photographed carrying a document spelling out a 100-day plan for the Department of Homeland Security that included a proposal to question “high-risk” immigrants over support for Sharia law and belief in the U.S. Constitution.

Perhaps the most searing interaction between Muslims and Trump, for Muslims who serve in national security, was Trump’s treatment of a Muslim Gold Star family during the presidential campaign. After Khizr Khan—whose son, Capt. Humayun Khan, was killed in Iraq in 2004—spoke at the Democratic National Convention, Trump attacked him and his wife, and insisted that he too had “made a lot of sacrifices.”

The result is a president-elect not welcome in the nation’s mosques.

For some, there already is a litmus test for incoming members of the Trump administration: Will agency heads and Cabinet secretaries let the mistreatment of Muslims or any other minority be tolerated? Some said they hope Congress poses such questions to Flynn during the confirmation hearings.

Either way, the new administration is a marked change. For the Obama administration, diversity within the administration was not just about politics but a means to better secure the country. And officials advocated it aggressively. Departments now are filled with younger staffers, many of whom never anticipated anything other than a government that embraced diversity.

Where minority staffers once were in lower-level jobs, now it is no longer uncommon to see a Muslim in hijab at the table of a high-level meeting.

“I truly believe that the business case for diversity is stronger for CIA than it is for any organization in the U.S. government,” CIA Director John Brennan told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in June. “Diversity not only gives us the cultural understanding we need to operate in any corner of the globe, it also helps us avoid groupthink, ensuring we bring to bear a range of perspectives on the complex challenges that are inherent to intelligence work.”

Just last month, President Obama issued a memorandum about “Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in the National-Security Workforce” that called for better data about the makeup of national-security employees and to help expand diversity within the national-security community.

There is nothing that binds the incoming president from adhering to any part of the memorandum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will Trump Resurrect a Violent South?


Hate groups are on the rise. Klan membership is increasing astronomically. In Trumped-up America, are we marching back to Bloody Sunday and Bombingham?

As police shootings of blacks continue, as anti-Muslim speech and violence intensifies, and as Donald Trump surfs a wave of Alt-Right bigotry toward the White House, I can’t help flashing back to the Alabama of my childhood, half a century ago. I grew up in a small town during the heyday of George Wallaceand the turbulence of the Civil Rights movement, when wholesale hatred and violence from angry whites were directed against African Americans seeking equality.

I was seven in May 1963, when the police chief in Birmingham turned fire hoses and police dogs loose on Civil Rights protesters. I was still seven in September, when four KKK members planted a bomb beneath the steps ofBirmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church, which had played an active role in the movement. The bundle of dynamite—15 sticks say some accounts, 19 say others—went off shortly before the worship service was scheduled to start, killing four girls and injuring more than 20 other people. It was the city’s deadliest bombing, but far from the first: previously some 50 racially motivated explosions had already earned Birmingham the nickname “Bombingham.”

I was nine in March 1965, when state troopers and a mounted sheriff’s posse blocked a march by peaceful protesters in Selma. After a brief standoff, the police attacked the marchers, firing tear gas and clubbing people with wooden nightsticks. At the time, I was too young and too sheltered—I lived in a quiet town of 6,500—to grasp the ferocity of the bigotry and violence.

By the time I was in seventh grade, my school had integrated. One of my basketball teammates was a black boy named Earl—“Earl the Pearl”—who, confounding stereotypes, played as badly as I did. Earl sometimes stopped by my house after school to shoot hoops, but we both remained benchwarmers, sitting side by side: equals, judged not by the color of our skin but by the lameness of our game. Dr. King’s dream had come true, at least in a third-string sort of way.

In high school I got religion and felt called to the ministry; at 16, I landed an appointment as a Methodist lay pastor, preaching the gospel twice a month at a one-room country church whose dead, their graves adorned with dusty plastic flowers, far outnumbered the living. One day early in my appointment, I passed a hand-lettered sign beside the road, less than a mile from my church: Klan Meeting Tonight. I was astonished; I’d imagined the Klan was over and done with. I was also baffled. Who would go to a Klan meeting in this sleepy crossroads? Would Etta Mae, the church’s fifty-something pianist? Her husband, Bob, whom I never saw on Sundays because he had his own pulpit, in a fire-and-brimstone Primitive Baptist church? The handful of quiet farmers and highway-department workers scattered among my pews?

Being young and new and unsure of myself, I didn’t ask about the sign, I’m sorry to say. Over the course of my pastorate—which ended two years later, when I went off to college and lost my theological certainty—I never saw the sign again.

I remember it, though—more often than ever now, against the backdrop of Ferguson and Black Lives Matter and White Lives Matter and Charleston and a sickening rise in hate groups and Klan groups. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, whose Intelligence Project tracks extremists of all stripes, the number of U.S. hate groups rose last year to more than 1,600—a 14 percent increase in just one year. More alarmingly, says the SPLC, the number of Klan chapters rose by more than 250 percent in 2015, to a total of nearly 200.

Last fall came the mass shootings in San Bernardino and Paris, which killed dozens of people in the name of radical Islam. Those tragedies were followed by a fierce anti-Muslim backlash. Donald Trump vowed to ban Muslim immigration and called for a “national registry” of Muslims already in the country. Trump’s Muslim-bashing was mirrored by (perhaps partly responsible for) a continuing surge of anti-Muslim violence, including incidents of vandalism and arson at mosques, widespread harassment, and violent assaults—beatings and murders—of innocent Muslims.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sympathizing with radicalized terrorists who kill in the name of Allah. Their actions sicken and grieve me, just as “Christian Identity” violence—shootings and bombings at abortion clinics, or calls for the killing of every Jew in America—sickens and grieves me. Murder gives God—any God—a bad rap. You don’t have to be a former preacher boy to realize that.

I no longer live in Alabama; now I’m next door in Georgia, in the music-making, tatted-up town of Athens, home of the University of Georgia. I love it here. And yet: Two weeks after the Charleston church shootings—and less than an hour after my wife and I first arrived in Athens—a shiny crew-cab pickup rumbled past us, cruising the street that doubles as the university’s fraternity row. Two big Confederate battle flags streamed behind it, waved by jeering young white men, and my wife—a newly hired professor of social work and human rights—stopped dead, turned to me, and wept tears of sadness and fury.

Last month, in Covington, Georgia, a Muslim group’s plan to build a mosque was thrown into doubt when a militia group staged a protest at the proposed site. Some of the militia members wore fatigues and carried assault rifles. Their spokesman called the local Muslims “a future ISIS training group.”

It’s not very far to Covington from Athens. Truth is, these days it’s not very far to Covington from anywhere in Georgia. Or Alabama. Or America. The back roads of bigotry and dark alleys of violence could quickly take us all to Covington. From there, it’s only a hop, skip, and a rope back to Bloody Sunday and Bombingham and Klan Meeting Tonight.

Jon Jefferson is a crime novelist in Athens, Georgia.

 

 

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I was a teen in the 60’s and I remember protesting Vietnam, eating dinner while we watched them pull the numbers of the next boys going to Vietnam, and watching American Bandstand and learning about Civil Rights. I didn’t know what a lynching was until I saw one on the news. I remember being horrified by what was happening in the South. If only Lincoln hadn’t been assassinated, I thought and the reconstruction he planned had happened. I was even more idealistic then than I am now.

 

Today I am a 66 year old rebel and I do not like what is happening in our beautiful country. First of all, it is not perfect and it never will be. It was not perfect when the Founding Fathers still walked the streets of Philadelphia. The Revolutionary War separated the people into two sides, the Whigs and the Tories. The war tore many families apart. The Civil War saw the formation of the Union and the Confederacy.

 

Today our country is going through a very difficult time. The country is full of haters, racists, bigots, narrow-minded people who live in fear of all that is different. This has happened before in our country and we survived. Our country is growing up just as our children have. Things that worked before, just don’t anymore. Americans are more educated than we used to be, we are more traveled, we have experienced more natural disasters and crime than before.

 

America is also prone to periods of paranoia  For example the McCarthy years when many talented Americans left and became ex-pats because McCarthy was determined to root out all Communism …real or imagined.  He terrified people to give up names of others who were communists where it was true or not; to save themselves from going to jail. Careers were destroyed.

 

When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, we rounded up all Japanese people and put them in camps. Many of them were of Japanese heritage but were born here. That was cruel, but America was paranoid once again.

 

We must stop the hating and every American must turn back to what is important in life. Friendship, love, kindness, acceptance, compassion, forgiveness. We need to put violence into our past where it belongs. Yes, there are refugees living here now. Yes, we have a lot of Latinos here. We are a country built by immigrant peoples. All of this land belonged to the Indigenous people. We killed them and stole their land from them. But as Americans we can learn, we can grow, we can take the higher road this time. We can stop all of the negativity that is pummeling  our country and open up our arms to each other.

 

This is what acceptance comes in. You may be Irish, Black, Italian, Asian, Swedish, Russian, or Tibetan but we are the same. The differences may be cultural or spiritual or the color of skin, but they don’t matter. There are no 100% Americans so put your egos away and realize that we all came here from somewhere else, or someone in your family tree did. Stop hating, stop hating anyone. Muslims, blacks, little people, fat people are all acceptable in the arms of Divinity. Do you know more than God? I don’t think so. Yes, there is warring going on with radical Jihadists, they are a very small portion of the Muslim population.

 

Don’t let America be torn apart again. Vote. Go home and practice whatever spiritually you follow in peace for yourself and for all other people.

Truth No One Wants to Talk About


 

America has a lot to be ashamed about in our history. The are four huge things I am going to mention. There are others, and though we like to think of ourselves as the standard that all countries should strive for, we are not. The first is our indigenous population, the many tribes of Native Americans who lived here for centuries before white Europeans came to these shores.  I am sure it was unnerving to have the strange colored and strangely dressed people arrive at their shores, yet they welcomed these new people.

 

Despite the myth of Thanksgiving, we came and brought disease and began to take their land. They had been the caretakers of all of this beautiful land that comprises America for centuries. The land was lush and fertile. It was full of wild animals, including buffalo. There was more than enough bounty to go around. The indigenous people did not pollute the water or the air. They proudly took care of their land. White people came in an took the land and killed the “American Indians” or fought them in bloody battles. White people would not give up so they killed thousands of braves, the women and children. We “gave” them little patches of worthless land (that they already owned) and made treaties that weren’t worth the paper they were written on. Still to this day, they care for Mother Earth as best as they can.

 

Our second shame is the issue of slavery. The first black men were brought to Jamestown in chains in the 1600’s. They were brought to sell to people who wanted them to do work their new owners didn’t want to do. The south became the biggest owner of slaves because of the plantations and crops such as tobacco, cotton and sugar cane. There were some slaves early on in the north but the practice didn’t last long. The 1840 census showed that New Hampshire had one slave.

 

Today slavery is long gone, thanks to a war. Even after the Civil War, the South enacted segregation and an organization called the Klu Klux Klan was formed. It was made up of cowardly southern men who rode at night under white sheets lynching Black people, beating them up. Setting themselves up as judge, jury and executioner for the helpless black people.

 

We now have our first black president and I voted for him twice. His Presidency has brought out the racism that is still alive and well in America. Which brings me to the group Black Lives Matter. I believe in Black Lives Matter. There is no need for White Lives Matter because here in America White lives are the only lives that matter in the eyes of too many people, and often in the eyes of the law.

 

In 1947, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and much of our Navy Fleet was lost. We lost many sailors and navy nurses. The attack was a terrible shock to America. My father kept a file about the attack that I found in 1984 when he died. Japan had woken the sleeping Tiger that was the U.S., and they payed the ultimate price, unfortunately. After the Pearl Harbor attack, came our third great shame, when we rounded up all Japanese people and some who looked oriental and put them in internment camps. We even included the Japanese who were born here and had lived in America their entire lives. Why? The were different. They were a different color, and LOOKED like the enemy, so they were judged to BE the enemy.

 

In 2001, we were attacked again by religious Jihadists. The hit us in three locations: The Pentagon, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, and a hijacked plane that was brought down by the passengers rather than let it fly to Washington DC. This attack was allegedly done “in the name of Islam” (although Islam is a peaceful religion) and over 3000 people were directly killed and many first responders have died since. Our fourth shame comes in because many here in America blame every Muslim. The vast majority of Muslims had no more idea of what was going to happen on September 11 than any non-Muslim, and are just as hurt, angered and appalled. But, because we are scared, we want to make all Muslims responsible. It’s easier for us to blame them because they often are a different color and dress differently, but this is not fair. Some want to keep all Muslims out of America. This is not right, and goes against everything America stands for, particularly the 1st Amendment Right of Freedom of Religion. There are many Muslims who are as peaceful and loving in their religious beliefs as anyone else, and should be able to come here and live.

 

Despite all the wrongs we have done to the Native Americans, they are now finally using their right to protest. They are protesting the continuation of the pipeline through their lands in the Dakotas. Whites should care as much about this land as do the descents of those from whom it was stolen. Native Americans are still taking of Mother Earth. Please listen to the important video below. Listen and take a stand. One you can be proud of.

 

Namaste

Barbara

 

Muslims go to Catholic Mass in Solidarity


 

 

 

 

 

Muslims Go to Catholic Mass Across France, Italy to Show Solidarity

An Associated Press reporter at the scene said that a few dozen Muslims gathered at the towering Gothic cathedral in Rouen, near Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray where the 85-year-old Rev. Jacques Hamel had his throat slit by two teenage Muslim fanatics on Tuesday.

“We are very moved by the presence of our Muslim friends and I believe it is a courageous act that they did by coming to us,” said Dominique Lebrun, the archbishop of Rouen, after the service.

Image: TOPSHOT-FRANCE-ATTACK-CHURCH-RELIGION
A catholic monk discusses with a muslim worshipper in front of the Saint-Pierre-de-lAriane church, prior a mass on July 31, 2016, in Nice, southeastern France.JEAN CHRISTOPHE MAGNENET / AFP – Getty Images

Some of the Muslims sat in the front row, across from the altar. Among the parishioners was one of the nuns who was briefly taken hostage at Hamel’s church after the priest was killed. She joined her fellow Catholics in turning to shake hands or embrace the Muslim churchgoers after the service.

Outside the church, a group of Muslims were applauded when they unfurled a banner: “Love for all. Hate for none.”

Churchgoer Jacqueline Prevot said that the attendance of Muslims was “a magnificent gesture.”

 

“Look at this whole Muslim community that attended Mass,” she said. “I find this very heartwarming; I am confident. I say to myself that this assassination won’t be lost, that it will maybe relaunch us better than politics can do; maybe we will react in a better way.”

Many of the Muslims who attended the service in Rouen — including those with the banner — were Ahmadiyya Muslims, a minority sect which differs from mainstream Islam in that it doesn’t regard Muhammad as the final prophet.

Similar interfaith gatherings were repeated elsewhere in France, as well as in neighboring Italy.

At Paris’ iconic Notre Dame cathedral, Dalil Boubakeur, the rector of the Mosque of Paris, said repeatedly that Muslims want to live in peace.

Image: FRANCE-ATTACK-CHURCH-RELIGION
A catholic monk welcomes muslim worshippers in the Saint-Pierre-de-lAriane church, prior to a mass on July 31, 2016, in Nice, southeastern France.JEAN CHRISTOPHE MAGNENET / AFP – Getty Images

“The situation is serious,” Boubakeur told BFMTV. “Time has come to come together so as not to be divided.”

In Italy, the secretary general of the country’s Islamic Confederation, Abdullah Cozzolino, spoke from the altar in the Treasure of St. Gennaro chapel next to Naples’ Duomo cathedral. Three imams also attended Mass at the St. Maria Church in Rome’s Trastevere neighborhood, donning their traditional dress as they entered the sanctuary and sat down in the front row.

 

Mohammed ben Mohammed, a member of the Union of Islamic Communities in Italy, said that he called on faithful in his sermon Friday “to report anyone who may be intent to damage society. I am sure that there are those among the faithful who are ready to speak up.”

Ahmed El Balzai, the imam of the Vobarno mosque in the Lombard province of Brescia, said he did not fear repercussions for speaking out.

“I am not afraid. … These people are tainting our religion and it is terrible to know that many people consider all Muslim terrorists. That is not the case,” El Balazi said. “Religion is one thing. Another is the behavior of Muslims who don’t represent us.”

Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni thanked Italian Muslims for their participation, saying they “are showing their communities the way of courage against fundamentalism.”

Like in France, Italy is increasing its supervision of mosques. Interior Minister Angelino Alfano told the Senate this week that authorities were scrutinizing mosque financing and working with the Islamic community to ensure that imams study in Italy, preach in Italian and are aware of Italy’s legal structure.

Pope Francis: ‘World Is at War’ 1:06

Meanwhile the Paris prosecutor’s office said it has requested that a cousin of one of the two 19-year-olds who slit the priest’s throat should be charged with participating in “a terrorist association with the aim of harming others.”

In a statement it said it appeared 30-year-old Frenchman Farid K. “knew very well, if not of the exact place or time, of his cousin’s impending plans for violence.”

The office added that a Syrian refugee detained in the wake of the attack was released Saturday.

Image: Muslim call to go to Sunday Mass
Members of the congregation in Santa Maria Trastevere church in Rome, Italy, 31 July 2016, during a multi faith service organized by Italy’s Islamic Religious Community.MASSIMO PERCOSSI / EPA

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As you read this article, please remember that the Muslims who participated in interfaith day of worship are moderate Muslims. They are not Jihadists. They are not participating in a holy war. The Pope says the world is at war and I fear he is correct. We need to dust off the anti-war placards and be ready to stand up to the hawks who want to kill, kill, kill. There are three religions that are considered the people of the book. The Muslims, the Jews and the Christians. They honor Moses, Abraham and Elijah.

Remember that each of our actions have reactions and many of those reactions can not be changed. These moderate Muslims in France and Italy are making an effort to show that they are not a threat, I think we need to honor that and honor them. Muslims have the right to live in America and Jews have a right to live here. Americans can not look at everyone who is different and feel fear. Yes, there are some you and I should fear, but the majority of Muslims are just people like you and I.

NamasteBarbara

What Happens when you Teach Hate


Police: 7th-grader calls Muslim schoolmate ‘son of ISIS,’ threatens to shoot and kill him

 

December 14 at 2:30 PM

An Ohio middle-school student has been accused of threatening to shoot and kill a Muslim schoolmate, calling him a “terrorist” and a “towel head,” police said.

A seventh-grader at Morton Middle School in Vandalia, near Dayton, got into an argument with another student Dec. 7 on a school bus, asking the boy if he was going to bomb him and calling the student “son of ISIS,” according to a police report. The seventh-grader faces a 10-day suspension and possible expulsion, according to the school district. Police said he also faces charges of aggravated menacing and ethnic intimidation.

The seventh-grader was arrested and transported to a juvenile detention center.

“First and foremost in our minds is the safety and security of our students,” Vandalia-Butler City Schools Superintendent Brad Neavin said in a statement. “It is important for our students and their parents to understand we take them at their word when they make these threats. We will treat all threats seriously, taking immediate and decisive action to protect the safety and welfare of our students, staff and community.”

The seventh-grader told police that he got into an argument in a school bus last week with a sixth-grader, who is Muslim, because, he said, the student never wants to sit down and plays his music too loudly, according to the police report. The seventh-grader admitted to using racial slurs and telling the sixth-grader he was responsible for bringing down the Twin Towers during 9/11 because he was Muslim, according to the report.

Another student who said he witnessed the incident reported it to the school, which alerted authorities, the district said in a statement. A witness later told police that the seventh-grader said something about bringing a .40-caliber handgun to school the next day to end the argument, according to the police report, though the seventh-grader told police he did not remember saying anything about the gun.

When asked whether he might have said it out of anger, “he said he probably did,” according to the report.

“When I was finished with my interview,” Vandalia Police Det. Jennifer Chiles wrote in the report, “I asked him if he wanted to write an apology letter to [the other student], and he said he did.”

The seventh-grader wrote a letter telling him “he was sorry for what he did and sorry for scaring him.”

Ahmad Murab, the sixth-grader’s father, told The Washington Post that his son came home scared, saying: ” ‘I don’t want to go to school, I don’t want to go to school.’ ” The family, he said, found out from other students what had happened.

Murab said he considers the threat a hate crime but does not blame the older student for it. Instead, he said, he blames the news media and possibly the boy’s parents for shaping his world view.

“Call a criminal a criminal; don’t call a Muslim a terrorist,” Murab said. “It gets this seventh-grader to think all Muslims are bad. I don’t blame him. You put us in a dangerous situation.”

He added: “I don’t blame the other kid. How does he know about the world? Adults are telling him to call people those names.”

Murab said his children were born in the United States and don’t deserve to be singled out.

“This country has Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and people who don’t believe in anything,” he said. “The U.S. is a melting pot.”

He added: “I don’t want to get killed because of my name. … We work; we do everything good.”

U.S. Muslims have been on edge in recent weeks, saying they are living through an intensely painful moment and feeling growing anti-Muslim sentiment after the Islamic State attacks in Paris and the San Bernardino, Calif., shootings, carried out by a Muslim husband and wife. Last week, Donald Trump — the GOP presidential front-runner — called for a “total and complete” ban on Muslims entering the United States.

Murab said his son is fine and has returned to school.

It was unclear Monday whether the seventh-grader was still in custody. The juvenile justice center would not release information because he is a minor.

When The Post called a number listed for the seventh-grader’s mother, she claimed she didn’t know anything about the accusations.

Vandalia-Butler City Schools said in a statement that an expulsion hearing will be set for a later date; police said a court hearing will also be scheduled.

People need to stop hating. Religion should not divide us. Dress should not divide us. Teach the children compassion,  gentleness and kindness. 
Stop the hating.

Namaste, 
Barbara, the Idealisticrebel


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This is what you can do

This is what you can do


			

A Dose of Reality About Syrian Refugees


My sister found this on Facebook, posted by an Immigration Lawyer named Scott Hicks. It does a wonderful job of explaining why pretending to be a refugee is the LEAST attractive, MOST difficult method for terrorists to get into any particular country, and into the United States in particular.

Please read this and tell me how denying entry to those fleeing for their lives makes us safer?  Tell me how it makes us anything more than fearful bigots?  Tell me how it makes ISIL weaker, when their ultimate goal is turn the world against all Muslims, so Muslims have nowhere to go but to ISIL?

Scott Hicks

November 19, 2015 Edited ·

Most of my friends know I practice Immigration law. As such, I have worked with the refugee community for over two decades. This post is long, but if you want actual information about the process, keep reading.

I can not tell you how frustrating it is to see the misinformation and outright lies that are being perpetuated about the refugee process and the Syrian refugees. So, here is a bit of information from the real world of someone who actually works and deals with this issue.

The refugee screening process is multi-layered and is very difficult to get through. Most people languish in temporary camps for months to years while their story is evaluated and checked.

First, you do not get to choose what country you might be resettled into. If you already have family (legal) in a country, that makes it more likely that you will go there to be with family, but other than that it is random. So, you can not simply walk into a refugee camp, show a document, and say, I want to go to America. Instead, the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees) works with the local authorities to try to take care of basic needs. Once the person/family is registered to receive basic necessities, they can be processed for resettlement. Many people are not interested in resettlement as they hope to return to their country and are hoping that the turmoil they fled will be resolved soon. In fact, most refugees in refugee events never resettle to a third country. Those that do want to resettle have to go through an extensive process.

Resettlement in the U.S. is a long process and takes many steps. The Refugee Admissions Program is jointly administered by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) in the Department of State, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and offices within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within DHS conducts refugee interviews and determines individual eligibility for refugee status in the United States.

We evaluate refugees on a tiered system with three levels of priority.

First Priority are people who have suffered compelling persecution or for whom no other durable solution exists. These individuals are referred to the United States by UNHCR, or they are identified by the U.S. embassy or a non-governmental organization (NGO).

Second priority are groups of “special concern” to the United States. The Department of State determines these groups, with input from USCIS, UNHCR, and designated NGOs. At present, we prioritize certain persons from the former Soviet Union, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Iran, Burma, and Bhutan.

Third priority are relatives of refugees (parents, spouses, and unmarried children under 21) who are already settled in the United States may be admitted as refugees. The U.S.-based relative must file an Affidavit of Relationship (AOR) and must be processed by DHS.

Before being allowed to come to the United States, each refugee must undergo an extensive interviewing, screening, and security clearance process conducted by Regional Refugee Coordinators and overseas Resettlement Support Centers (RSCs). Individuals generally must not already be firmly resettled (a legal term of art that would be a separate article). Just because one falls into the three priorities above does not guarantee admission to the United States.

The Immigration laws require that the individuals prove that they have a “well-founded fear,” (another legal term which would be a book.) This fear must be proved regardless of the person’s country, circumstance, or classification in a priority category. There are multiple interviews and people are challenged on discrepancies. I had a client who was not telling the truth on her age and the agency challenged her on it. Refugees are not simply admitted because they have a well founded fear. They still must show that they are not subject to exclusion under Section 212(a) of the INA. These grounds include serious health matters, moral or criminal matters, as well as security issues. In addition, they can be excluded for such things as polygamy, misrepresentation of facts on visa applications, smuggling, or previous deportations. Under some circumstances, the person may be eligible to have the ground waived.

At this point, a refugee can be conditionally accepted for resettlement. Then, the RSC sends a request for assurance of placement to the United States, and the Refugee Processing Center (RPC) works with private voluntary agencies (VOLAG) to determine where the refugee will live. If the refugee does have family in the U.S., efforts will be made to resettle close to that family.

Every person accepted as a refugee for planned admission to the United States is conditional upon passing a medical examination and passing all security checks. Frankly, there is more screening of refugees than ever happens to get on an airplane. Of course, yes, no system can be 100% foolproof. But if that is your standard, then you better shut down the entire airline industry, close the borders, and stop all international commerce and shipping. Every one of those has been the source of entry of people and are much easier ways to gain access to the U.S. Only upon passing all of these checks (which involve basically every agency of the government involved in terrorist identification) can the person actually be approved to travel.

Before departing, refugees sign a promissory note to repay the United States for their travel costs. This travel loan is an interest-free loan that refugees begin to pay back six months after arriving in the country.

Once the VOLAG is notified of the travel plans, it must arrange for the reception of refugees at the airport and transportation to their housing at their final destination.
This process from start to finish averages 18 to 24 months, but I have seen it take years.

The reality is that about half of the refugees are children, another quarter are elderly. Almost all of the adults are either moms or couples coming with children. Each year the President, in consultation with Congress, determines the numerical ceiling for refugee admissions. For Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, the proposed ceiling is 85,000. We have been averaging about 70,000 a year for the last number of years. (Source: Refugee Processing Center)

Over one-third of all refugee arrivals (35.1 percent, or 24,579) in FY 2015 came from the Near East/South Asia—a region that includes Iraq, Iran, Bhutan, and Afghanistan.
Another third of all refugee arrivals (32.1 percent, or 22,472) in FY 2015 came from Africa.
Over a quarter of all refugee arrivals (26.4 percent, or 18,469) in FY 2015 came from East Asia — a region that includes China, Vietnam, and Indonesia. (Source: Refugee Processing Center)

Finally, the process in Europe is different. I would be much more concerned that terrorists are infiltrating the European system because they are not nearly so extensive and thorough in their process.

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