The French term for targeted arrest of wartime Jews was rafle; in Denmark and the Netherlands, the practice was called razzia. The Polish lapanka can be translated as “to catch.” By any name, the German tactic of enforced deportation was illegal and immoral, condemned as a war crime under international law.
The Holocaust did not begin with the gassing of “undesireables”–the Final Solution was not approved by senior Nazi leadership until January 20, 1942 at the Wannsee Conference outside Berlin–but evolved over time, “beginning with systematic persecution aimed in part at encouraging Jewish emigration from Germany to other countries.” And death of “illegal aliens,” while too often the consequence of US government border policy, is not necessarily coincident to President Trump’s expulsion orders. What is common to ICE’s mission and the history of Hitler’s genocide is the phenomenon of ethnic cleansing.
“ICE’s deportation zeal stands in contrast to a particularly shameful chapter in its history,” reminds historian Jared McBride. When it was known as the US Immigration and Naturalization Service, from 1945 to 1979, “it repeatedly failed to investigate and remove European war criminals from the US. And that included Holocaust perpetrators.”
The Supreme Court recently ruled that US immigration officials can detain immigrants within the US indefinitely reports Kelly Hayes for truth-out.org, without offering periodic bond hearings. Immigrants with permanent legal status and those seeking asylum would not be exempt from this policy:
Being “disappeared” by the state is hardly a new concept amongst undocumented people. Alejandro Rodriguez, the lead plaintiff in Tuesday’s case, is a legal permanent resident who lingered in detention for three years, without access to a bond hearing, due to a misdemeanor drug offense. The ACLU ultimately took up Rodriguez’s case, scoring a victory in the circuit court, wherein the court ruled that immigrant detainees were entitled to bond hearings every six months. The Obama administration appealed that ruling, arguing that the United States government has the right to detain “criminal and terrorist aliens,” and the Trump administration predictably opted to continue the case. But while the case and controversy predate the Trump administration, this decision comes at a particularly frightening time for undocumented immigrants, who are already living in the crosshairs of the Trump administration.
Choose a Side
Holocaust survivor Ervin Staub believes that bystanders play a far more critical role in society than people realize: “Bystanders, people who witness but are not directly affected by the actions of perpetrators, help shape society by their reactions…. Bystanders can exert powerful influences.”
Primo Levi challenges the notion that “Good Germans” were not aware of the horrible atrocities being committed by the Nazis:
In spite of the varied possibilities for information, most Germans didn’t know because they didn’t want to know. Because, indeed, they wanted not to know….In Hitler’s Germany a particular code was widespread: those who knew did not talk; those who did not know did not ask questions; those who did ask questions received no answers. In this way the typical German citizen won and defended his ignorance, which seemed to him sufficient justification of his adherence to Nazism. Shutting his mouth, his eyes and his ears, he built for himself the illusion of not knowing, hence not being an accomplice to the things taking place in front of his very door.
The very future of humanity demands we not make the same mistake. RefuseFascism.org offers a vehicle to stop the nightmare of the Trump/Pence Regime: If we understand and come to grips with the character of the problem we face, we can find and work on the solution. We will have our differences, which we should acknowledge and engage; such differences, however, can NOT prevent us from uniting and acting together in the larger interests of humanity.
Beware the Evolving Nature of Genocide
Social ostracism, abrogation of legal rights, and organized physical violence advance in stages towards the “ultimate war crime,” defined by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg as an illegal war of aggression against a sovereign nation. US Senator Jim Risch warns that war on North Korea would be “one of the worst catastrophic events in the history of our civilization.” Trump now has his finger on the nuclear trigger. During his campaign, he asked a foreign policy expert three times: If we have nukes, why can’t we use them? National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster announced Trump has ordered the military to “prepare all options because the President has made clear to us that he will not accept a nuclear power in North Korea.”
Revolution Newspaper has called out the real aggressor: “The US has been–for 70 years–and remains the real aggressor here, starting with the Korean War of 1950-53, and ever afterward. And it must not be forgotten that during the Korean War, the US carpet-bombed and eventually burned down every town in North Korea, and that an estimated three million Korean civilians, the great majority in the North, were killed in this war…
“It is a fundamental outrage that we live in a world where the survival of humanity rests in the hands of someone like Donald Trump; that the people of the Korean peninsula, and humanity, are held hostage to his acts and speech.”