As Donald Trump continues to call for banning all Muslims and walling off Mexicans from entering our country (“Trump’s Reality Candidacy,” March 11), I am reminded of a memorial I saw at the Immigration Museum in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It was called the “Wheel of Conscience” by Daniel Libeskind and commemorated the refusal of a safe haven to the ship St. Louis, which was transporting 1,000 European Jews fleeing the Nazis. It had already been turned away by Cuba and the United States. Canada was its last hope, and it too said no.
The memorial is a large clockwork figure on which the main gear “hatred” turns the other gears labeled “racism,” “xenophobia,” and “anti-Semitism.” The Canadians commissioned this memorial to express their regret and shame for the decision they had made, which sent desperate people back to Europe, where 250 of them were killed in concentration camps.
There is no such expression of regret in the United States. Donald Trump and his fellow nominees, in varying degrees, are pandering to a large group of Americans who are akin to European nativists who spawned Hitler and his regime. I fear that a similar phenomenon is happening here in the U.S.
Whether the eventual Republican nominee is Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, the message is the same: Restrict immigration; stop refuges from entering the US; fear anyone who is not like I am, and call that person un-American.
Passover will soon be here. At Seders everywhere we will be saying some variation of “Remember the Stranger for we were strangers in the land of Egypt.” This appears throughout our Torah; we are meant to take it seriously. It has been our history to wander through the world, seeking acceptance, shelter and support. How can we refuse that to others?
I urge all of those Jewish people who are Republicans to give deep thought before pulling the lever. Is the Republican platform of exclusion, rejection and fear of the other congruent with your values? I hope not.