Sunday, January 29, 2017

Then and now

If the United States was the grail for many, the odds of actually getting in were infinitesimal. For all that Americans regularly spoke of their country being overrun with “millions of refugees,” the numbers who actually made it were astonishingly small. In fact, the difficulties of reaching America due to the war, the Depression, and bureaucracy-mired visa restrictions combined to make the number of immigrants to the United States between 1931 and 1945 the lowest they had been been in more than a hundred years. . . .

Nonetheless, through a combination of intentional propaganda and general paranoia, the perception gained traction that America was being swamped with exiles to the point where millions of jobs and democracy itself were at risk.

George Prochnik, The Impossible Exile: Stefan Zweig at the End of the World (New York: Other Press, 2014).
As Nicholas Kristof wrote in The New York Times, “Today, to our shame, Anne Frank is a Syrian girl.”

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