Restricting United States immigration is not a new issue, though a President summarily disregarding Congress to fund a wall is. Nevertheless, President Trump is not the first American President to try to block American borders and probably will not be the last one.
However, before we Americans choose to tell others they may not be welcomed, we need to understand that many of those flocking to our borders are fleeing one form of genocide or another. If we decide to bar their entrance, we have to accept the harsh reality that our actions may cause the death of these refugees.
We have to recognize that the consequences of keeping others out have really not changed. When the Irish were exiting Ireland because of the potato famine, many of those unable to gain entrance to America starved to death.
In 1939, when President Roosevelt cruelly and thoughtlessly refused to let the St. Louis disembark its passengers in America, the passengers were forced to return to Europe and almost every single one of them perished in the Holocaust.
President Roosevelt cited for his decision the concern that the passengers were a threat to U.S. security. Though he had no evidence to support this, few protested his decision and ultimately millions of individuals died when they had nowhere to go.
The Genocide Conference at Scottsdale Community College scheduled April 15-20 could very well be the premiere conference of this type by any American college or university. Its goal is to ensure that the genocides of the past are never forgotten, and to remind the public they tragically continue today.
Thanks to the selfless and incredible dedication of Professor John Liffiton at SCC, who created this conference from scratch, thousands of Arizona youths and adults have been educated about what fellow human beings are capable of inflicting upon each other.
The programming is free, and the opening reception on the evening of April 15 includes a catered reception sponsored by Sacks Tierney.
Every year, the conference aims to highlight a past or continuing genocide in hopes of increasing Arizonans’ sensitivity, awareness and willingness to intervene, helping bring such atrocities to an end.
For example, last year’s conference focused on the Armenian genocide, which most Americans are totally unfamiliar with, in which over 1.5 million were massacred by the neighboring Turks for no discernable reason.
This year, Ms. Clemantine Wamariya, a human rights advocate and author of a memoir, “The Girl Who Smiled Beads,” will be speaking, which presumably will be as eye opening as past featured guests.
You may walk away from the Genocide Conference both saddened and enlightened. You may even have trouble believing what you may have experienced.
But you will better understand the need to take steps now to end the genocides continuing today.
Randy Nussbaum is a longtime resident of Scottsdale and a Shareholder with the Scottsdale law firm Sacks Tierney, P.A.