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Letter to the Editor

Never forget: The phrase is a command to act as much as it is to remember. Our duty to the millions of lives lost in the Holocaust goes beyond putting up memorials in their honor; our duty is to call out all state-sanctioned violence and efforts to dehumanize groups of people.

And so we must call out U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik for supporting the systematic dehumanization of refugees at our own border. Last week she claimed sudden concern about the Holocaust — an absolute surprise to many of her Jewish constituents, who have rarely heard her speak to our particular concerns. When U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez referred to detention facilities at the border as concentration camps, Stefanik expressed outrage over Ocasio-Cortez’s choice of words.

In berating her colleague, Stefanik defended an indefensible policy of abuse and neglect. As Jews in her district, we are alarmed that our elected representative is more concerned with semantics than with the fact that the concentration camps exist at all.

The Holocaust did not happen overnight. Step by step, over a period of years, the Nazis tested the public to see what they would accept.

It began with small cruelties, then concentration camps and, in the end, extermination centers. The victims were not only Jews but people with disabilities, gay people — anyone vulnerable. The Nazis used language similar to this administration’s rhetoric about immigrants of color to decry refugees and insist on their own supremacy.

We cannot pretend we don’t know the purpose of that language. We must not look away when at one border patrol facility, immigration lawyers found four toddlers unresponsive, feverish and vomiting. In some cases their mothers, all of whom were teenagers, had begged for medical care and were denied.

We must not look away when lawyers are finding children as young as 7 and 8 wearing clothes caked with snot and tears, caring for infants they just met. When a Honduran mother, pursuing her legal right to asylum, is denied water, when she is shackled like a prisoner as she is shuffled from one detention facility to another, we cannot look away.

Tikkun Olam is Hebrew for “repair the world.” We must not sacrifice our own humanity to the whims of politicians.

America contains the possibility and promise of a more perfect union. We ask our fellow constituents of all backgrounds to join us in calling on our elected representatives to end the inhumane treatment of refugees and to help repair this world.

Sara Schaff

Canton

Ruth Sergel

Jay

Michelle Lightbourn Tolosky (in honor of her maternal grandfather, Herbert Hecht)

Chazy

Laurie McGrath

Madrid

Debra Mitchell

Canton

Natalia Singer

Canton

Carole Slatkin

Essex

Marianne DiMarco-Temkin and Michael Temkin

Canton

Cynthia Maguire

Adams Center

Rowena Miller

Brownville

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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(8) comments

rockloper

The insidious thing is the idiot in chief is carrying this out for all people of color.

JohnMcElroy

I wouldn't call the caravans of people looking for work "refugees." They want a better life but are not fleeing wars, persecution and natural disaters. Our government and both major parties are dealing with the problem of an excess of work seekers in different ways but they are working on the problem.

Gracie02

Looking for work? You're putting the Trump Admin spin on this JM... You don't arrive at a border with your kids...swimming a river...and nothing else ..seeking employement..... They're fleeing JM... Per UNICEF - "Many blame the rise of organized crime, which flourished in the wake of civil wars in the region, leaving many people unemployed and with easy access to weapons".. I'm not suggesting we just open the border...but at least care for the ones who arrive..especially the children.. Yea...working on the problem by building a wall...

rdsouth

Certainly they're refugees. And what do we call the place where refugees stay? We call it a refugee camp. Not a concentration camp. Clearly they are a step up from where these people came from, otherwise they still wouldn't keep coming. But what are we doing if we stage effort s to dissuade them from coming by making our refugee camps worse? Then we are turning them into atrocities worth fleeing because they are places nobody would flee to even from atrocity. If not for the outrage we would be there.

hermit thrush

beautiful letter. and tragic that it's necessary for it to be written.

Airball55

This has NOTHING in common with the holocaust and this Jewish reader is appalled that people would view the same. Just an embarrassment. And this has been a MAJOR issue for some time now that both parties have laid claim too. I don't see the train network shuttling people to systematic death on the southern border. Very sad to see this.

rockloper

Not yet it doesn't Airball, not yet.

Kevin_Beary_is_racist

The actual Holocaust museum says the comparison is acceptable. To people who don't live in Fox News fantasy world Trump is clearly racist. His closest ally internationally is Kim Jong Un, who has lead the starvation of millions of his own people. Remember, Republicans are the party that sent 4,000 American soldiers to die looking for imaginary WMD's in Iraq. You aren't so good at history.

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