I was told recently that my comparisons between President Trump and Hitler are outrageous. Instead of changing these statements, I view Trump following Hitler’s edicts to an even greater extent. Trump’s most recent proclamation is to deport all immigrants (young or old) who are ill. No matter how dangerously sick or dependent on the specialized care they may need, they must be deported within 33 days of receiving the notice. This amounts to a sentence of death for some.
Hitler declared a “final solution” for Jews, blacks, gypsies, and people who were ill, mentally retarded, handicapped or homosexual. Trump stopped short of complete eradication; how empathetic of our American dictator! How else can Trump be described when he is disrespectful of the Constitution, disobeys the law, follows no rules or procedures and professes racist and white supremacist views?
I feel personally discouraged that President Trump has usurped the power of the office of the presidency. Our nation and its laws provide respect for all human beings if we care and help each other.
During the Cuban crisis when our country was overwhelmed by thousands of Cuban immigrants who were fleeing Castro’s communist takeover, we were challenged. But the attitude, generally, was to welcome them and solve the placement of these migrants. It certainly was a contrast to today’s view of refusing to accept them.
I have a recollection of strangers frequently boarding at my grandma’s apartment in Chicago. Those “strangers” were immigrants who would live with Grandpa and Grandma until they got work and were “settled,” and then another family would arrive. My mother told me she and her three sisters shared the small extra bedroom and would have to sleep on the living-room floor. The immigrants were given the bedroom. She remembered that the practice of helping immigrants was common among her family’s friends and relatives.
Helping those in need has been a mantra of this community. Local history commended Oak Park and River Forest during the Great Chicago Fire, for the hospitality provided for those escaping the city. I am indeed, grateful for being a longtime resident here, but I question whether we are as unselfish or generous as past generations were. I believe we are more xenophobic and perhaps too protective of our private lives to share as others once did.
When my children were teenagers, we took into our home and family two Cuban children. It was needed and it was the right thing to do. We gained as much from the experience as they did. But would I do that today? I don’t know. I am now “spoiled” with my many blessings of comforts, kindness, love and security that surround me. My son and daughter are supportive, and attentive. In fact, I call my daughter, “my Jewish mother.” Dear friends (some have been close for over 50 years) have added to my pleasant existence, and I am grateful for these blessings.
But I am also troubled by President Trump’s decisions that are destroying our democracy and his determination to eliminate diversity in our America.
Two generations ago when my grandparents came to America from Poland, poor as can be, they were nonetheless welcomed. If they were immigrants from Mexico at that time, they would have been accepted in the same manner. The radical contrast to Trump’s “no tolerance” treatment of South and Central American immigrants today, is shocking. Imagine, separating children from these asylum-seeking families and subjecting them to prison, living as though they are criminals; how can this be happening in our nation?
As I count my personal blessings, I realize I must continue pestering our senators and protest against Trump’s Hitlerian actions. We want all those in America to have the freedom for the pursuit of happiness. Will you join me?
Harriet Hausman is a River Forest resident and a longtime member of the ACLU.