Tag Archives: trump

Save the Refugees — A matter of Decency and Defiance (1940 and now)

By Peter Eisner

In June 1940, after the fall of Paris, an American vice consul in Marseille, Hiram Bingham IV, received an order from the State Department to slow down and effectively block issuing visas for  refugees attempting to flee the Third Reich. The refugees were mostly Jews.

A xenophobic and possibly anti-Semitic official at the State Department, Breckenridge Long, had issued a declaration to delay and stop Jews from entering the United States. He and others claimed — without evidence — that Hitler could sneak Nazi agents into the United States among the Jewish refugees. He wrote:

“We can delay and effectively stop, for a temporary period of indefinite length, the number of immigrants into the United States. We could do this by simply advising our consuls to put every obstacle in the way which would postpone and postpone and postpone the granting of the visas.”


Bingham, however, acted on conscience and out of decency in the highest traditions of the country he believed in. As I wrote, Bingham:

…challenged indifference and anti-Semitism among his State Department superiors. In speeding up visa and travel documents at the Marseille consulate, he disobeyed orders from Washington. In all, an estimated 2,500 refugees were able to flee to safety because of Bingham’s help.

I wrote about Bingham’s story in Smithsonian Magazine: Saving the Jews of Nazi France.harry-bingham-marseille-631-jpg__800x600_q85_crop

Today, the United States faces a disgusting wave of xenophobia and prejudice. Think about the example of Hiram Bingham, whose promising career was destroyed — because he took a moral stance. More than half a century after his actions, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell honored Bingham posthumously for his actions.

Breckenridge Long’s order, obeyed by others, contributed to blocking tens of thousands of refugees from entry into the United States. Many who could have been saved died under the Nazi boot.

The times are changing, and yet the principles of decency remain unchanged.




Filed under Journalism, trump

“How Dare you, Sir…. (Come on, people)

“How dare you, Sir,  impugn the character of…… (John Lewis, Meryl Streep, a Gold Star mother, a journalist with disabilities, or the target du jour)

Come on, people, it won’t work. Laughter, mockery and good cheer are a more effective antidote. Make a plan and do not presume to issue answers.

The problem we face is wrongly characterized. We need a strategy. A newspaper wrongly described the entity’s response to John Lewis as “a feud.” This was not a feud. It was a judgement by a great American statesman, followed by a predictable response from the entity. John Lewis need not respond.

The entity you are addressing feeds on your anger and outrage. The entity is happy that you are offended and does not care.

In Star Trek (original, Captain Kirk, third season, episode seven), just such an entity was discovered in the realm of a human colony on Beta XII-A. “A glowing entity of pure energy” had destroyed the settlement on Beta XII-A and proceeded to take over the Enterprise.

It took some time before Captain Kirk realized that the entity was provoking anger and outrage among the crew. It had already destroyed the planet below.

The captain convinced his crew to begin to joke and laugh loudly, fight off angry emotions.

The entity lost power, skulked away and the ship was saved. Too late, though, for the planet.

When will we learn?

In the meantime, don’t bother to respond to the entity’s tweets or to treat it as you would treat other Earthlings.

And laugh along with Alec Baldwin and others who have gotten the idea.


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Filed under 1, Politics, trump

John Sununu Attacks Obama’s American Roots

This garbage from the Republicans plays to fringe stupidity. Read on, just in case you thought that Donald Trump and the birthers had been repudiated by the party.

From the Los Angeles Times:

In some of the toughest comments yet delivered on behalf of Mitt Romney’s campaign, former New Hampshire Gov. John H. Sununu assailed President Obama’s roots in the “political-slash-felon environment” of Chicago and suggested that Obama needed to “learn how to be an American.”

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Filed under 1, Elections, Obama, Politics, Politics