In German-occupied Europe in November 1938, Nazis raided Jewish businesses and homes, and destroyed 268 synagogues. Tens of thousands of Jewish men were arrested and sent to concentration camps. The incident was named Kristallnacht (Night of Crystal) because of all the shattered glass the Gestapo left in their wake.
Many of the men died in the concentration camps. Some were released, on the condition that they emigrate out of Germany. But where could they go?
Two weeks after Kristallnacht, pollsters asked Americans if they should change their immigration policy to allow more Jews, who were fleeing mass incarceration, starvation and death, to immigrate to the U.S. 72% answered “No.”
American nationalism was so strong, and created such indifference, that Dr. Seuss published a now-famous political cartoon where a grandmother wearing an “America First” sweater reads a story to two children that says, “…and the Wolf chewed up the children and spit out their bones…But those were Foreign Children and it didn’t really matter…”
During World War II, 110,000 European Jews immigrated to the U.S. Hundreds of thousands of others were denied entrance — and they died.
I hear Christians talk about how, if they were living in Nazi Germany during WW II, they would’ve “done something about it.” They would have, they claim, hid Jews in their attics or their basements, smuggled Jewish children out of Germany, fed their hungry Jewish neighbors.
But here’s the thing.
Lots of American Christians did have the opportunity to do something during WW II, and they didn’t do it. They had the opportunity to vote for immigration reform and accept more Jewish immigrants who were trying to escape almost certain death.
But they didn’t do it. And people died.
Today the Supreme Court upheld a travel ban that prevents people from Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Iran from immigrating to the U.S.
Half a million people from Syria alone have died since the Civil War began in 2011. The world has more displaced people now than it ever has. Thousands upon thousands of people are dying by the day.
Hundreds of thousands of our brothers, our sisters, our neighbors, our children, our friends — are dying. And you know how we say, “If I was living in Nazi Germany, I would’ve done something?”
Well, this is our moment. This is our chance.
If we don’t change, hundreds of thousands of people will be denied access to the U.S. They will die. And their blood will be on our hands.