Donald Trump is not Adolf Hitler. He is not calling for the executions of Jews, queer people and other minorities. To compare President Trump to someone who committed such atrocities not only further polarizes the country, but also does a disservice to all of the victims of the Holocaust. However, in signing the executive order banning refugees from all countries and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, President Trump is responding to the humanitarian refugee crisis in the same way the United States responded to the Holocaust.
In 1939, the American Institute of Public Opinion ran a poll regarding refugee children — many of whom were Jews — fleeing Germany. At the time, 61 percent of Americans voted to block these children from entering the United States, in fear that they were German spies. This poll became a reality when 937 Jewish refugees aboard the S.S. St. Louis were not allowed into the United States. 254 of those refugees ended up dying in Nazi death camps. Now, it is 2017, and America is once again falling short of its promise to be a land where anyone can make it.
Refugees fleeing to this country are not coming here to be violent. In fact, they are coming here to flee violence. Studies have repeatedly shown that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than people born in the United States; people just choose to focus more on crimes committed by immigrants. When someone who claims to follow Islam commits an act of terror, people immediately condemn the entire religion. However, when a white man who claims to follow Christianity attacked a Planned Parenthood clinic in defense of Christianity’s stance on abortion, the same people who condemned Islam were silent. Even Vice President Mike Pence pointed out the anti-American nature of a Muslim ban in a 2015 tweet.
Furthermore, this ban will only fuel the anger of radical terrorists. ISIS has already said this Muslim ban will be used as propaganda to expand its terrorist group. This ban — which is in direct violation of the First Amendment’s commitment to religious freedom and the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act — will do nothing, except hurt victims of violence and terror.
On Jan. 27, Pence addressed the March for Life, an annual protest in Washington against abortion. In his speech, Pence said, “Life is winning again in America.” While his consistent commitment to this issue is admirable, what about the lives of refugees? The women and children fleeing Syria have heartbeats too — just like the unborn babies Pence claims to care deeply about. If Pence is truly “pro-life” then he will stand up against Trump, and we can go back to progressing as a nation and as a human race.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Jan. 30 print edition. Email Andrew Heying at [email protected]