The Voyage of the Damned
The Voyage of the Damned recounts the Jewish refugees on the ship Saint Louis turned away from Cuba, the United States and Canada just before the Second World War. An anti-Semitic group of State Department officials, led by Breckenridge Long, did everything possible to obstruct Jewish immigration to the US in advance of the Holocaust at a time when anti-Semitism pervaded parts of the United States and its government.
This past week’s events of travel bans against another group of Semitic refugees distinguished by their religion and Middle Eastern origins should remind us of that inglorious past and the need to remember its harsh and never to be forgotten lessons. The wars in Iraq and Syria have spawned a new wave of refugees from the violence overtaking their native lands. We are not blameless in the chaos, having invaded Iraq, ousted an elected Iranian leader in the 50s and Iraqi and Libyan tyrants in the past two decades, and sent troops into Yemen, Somalia, and Syria. Indeed Al Qaeda is a misbegotten outgrowth of our covert adventures in Afghanistan in the 80’s, just as ISIS was formed in response to our misinformed Iraqi invasion. People in the Middle East are being slaughtered daily by ISIS and by Assad for their religious beliefs, Muslims foremost among them. Civil wars are being fought against tyrants and theocratic terrorists alike. Refugees are already heavily vetted by the US and UN before being cleared for admission to the US.
How do we wish to be remembered to children all over the world as the beacon for nations and peoples yearning to be free or as the home of the Ku Klux Klan and the modern day Know Nothings? Are we prepared to join Steve Bannon, Steve Miller, General Flynn and President Trump in tarring a religion of 1.2 billion and in alienating a region of vital strategic importance and long time allies across the globe? Let’s make sure we stand as our founding fathers and forefathers and foremothers have done against the darker impulses of religious, nationalistic and ethnic hatred and intolerance from within and without.
Prepared by Lucien Wulsin
February 6, 2017