I am one of the pastors and community members from various faith groups who came to Rochester last week with the Interfaith Isaiah organization. We came to express our immense sadness and dismay at what is going on at our borders.
I was born in France during World War II where my parents, French citizens, were in hiding since they were Jewish. A few years ago, I went to the Memorial of the Shoah in Paris. Inscribed on a huge wall were the names of the 70,000 Jews deported by the French police and gassed by the Nazis.
After doing research in the archives of the memorial (as we know, the Nazis kept very good records), I found out that among the 46 Tenenbaums inscribed on the wall, several names were children, some as young as six. Also, if you travel to Paris these days you will notice on the walls of our schools a plaque indicating that from there children were taken away to be carted off to the ovens of Auschwitz.
When I became aware of the way children were treated at our borders it felt like “déjà vu,” and I wondered “Where am I?” Is this the United States of America? The shining “City on the Hill” that President Reagan spoke about? (By the way, he legalized the status of millions of undocumented aliens.) Has this country lost its moral compass?
In order to justify his policy of extermination, Hitler’s propaganda started by dehumanizing the Jews: They were rats, vicious, perverts, intent on destroying Germany. He instilled fear and hatred for the Jews, which made the conclusion unavoidable: the Final Solution.
Today, the refugees at our borders, the people with babies and children are “criminals, drug dealers, rapists, murderers.” I recognize in the words used by the propaganda of our ruling party the words that dehumanize and justify the action of our agents at the border. I recoil in horror.
Some pretend that we are a “Christian Nation.” Are we?
Christ was a refugee, fleeing Herod’s murderous scheme. Would we have torn him away from his mother’s arms, locked him up behind wires, made him sleep on concrete with lights burning all night, in a condition bordering torture? Do we remember Jesus’ words: “What you do unto others, you are doing unto me?”
Many of the people who are justifying such policies would not treat their dogs the way those refugee children are treated!
Shame on us who are supporting such policy or who keep silent. We, descendants of the millions of British, Germans, Irish, Italians, Jews and others who invaded this land, who populated it and made it rich ... shame on us who have forgotten!
Rosine Tenenbaum, Professor Emeritus, Winona State University