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Why this Syrian refugee crisis looks similar to World War II
A new poll surfaced on social media this week that showed many Americans were concerned with letting in Jewish people around World War II. Sound familiar? - photo by Herb Scribner
In the wake of last week's Paris attacks that left more than 120 dead and 350 injured, U.S. politicians have offered many different perspectives about whether or not America should allow Syrian refugees into the country.

States such as Alabama, Louisiana and Michigan all announced theyd no longer allow Syrian refugees into their states this week, according to BuzzFeed News.

Similarly, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said his state would avoid doing so, and that the U.S. shouldnt even let in 5-year-old orphans.

In the same vein, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said that incoming refugees from Syria should pass a religious test that confirms theyre Christian Syrian refugees, which I wrote about earlier this week. President Barack Obama slammed that notion and discredited GOP governors and politicians who want to limit the number of Syrian refugees allowed into the United States, CNN reported.

All of this back-and-forth about allowing Syrian refugees into the United States is similar to a previous scenario that took place at the beginning of World War II.

A poll from 1939, originally done by the American Institute of Public Opinion and tweeted out by@HistOpinion this week, found Americans were wary before World War II about letting refugee children, many of whom were Jewish, into their homes.

Similarly, a year before that, 67 percent of Americans said the country shouldnt allow any European refugees into the country, according to the Twitter account.

As more U.S. politicians voice their opposition to allowing Syrian refugees into the country after the Paris attacks, Twitter account @HistOpinion is reminding us that Americans once held similar negative views of Jewish refugees right before World War II, Mashables Colin Daileda wrote.

Still, some dont feel its fair to draw comparisons between pre-World War II Jews and Syrian refugees of today since those Jews were being discriminated against and cast out for their ethnic background, whereas Syrians are leaving their country because of war, according to the National Review.

This is prima facie nonsense, which should be obvious from the terms being compared: Jews, an ethnic group, with Syrians, a national one, National Review reported. An honest, apples-to-apples comparison would line up German Jews and Syrian Muslims the relevant ethnic group within the relevant political entity. But do this, and the failure of the analogy becomes clear.

And Joel B. Pollak of Breitbart News wrote that Jewish refugees back in World War II didnt pose a terror threat, where as terrorists today are either hiding among Syrian refugees or disguising themselves as such.

The argument is that the U.S. should have learned its mistake: by turning away Jewish refugees, America (and other nations) doomed many to death at the hands of the Nazis, Pollak wrote. In addition, Americans opposed resettling Jewish refugees then and that was wrong. Conclusion: we must throw open our borders. But there are several reasons the Jewish and Syrian crises have little in common, and why opposition is different in the two cases.

Pollak also wrote that Jews were victims of persecution, rather than people fleeing an ongoing war, so they had very few options for asylum and safety. Syrians, meanwhile, can enter in many countries throughout Europe, including the 57 member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, according to Pollak.

Still, despite these criticisms, Dana Milbank, columnist of The Washington Post, said its still important to take historical lessons and apply them to todays ongoing crisis because it shows comparison for other people around the world.

This growing cry to turn away people fleeing for their lives brings to mind the SS St. Louis, the ship of Jewish refugees turned away from Florida in 1939," Milbank wrote for the Post. "Its perhaps the ugliest moment in a primary fight that has been sullied by bigotry from the start. Its no exaggeration to call this un-American."
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