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Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Flood of Refugees: Again.

A massive wave of refugees is streaming into Europe, desperately fleeing war and brutality in Syria and other countries. There is a big debate about what to do, how to stop this, what the consequences will be for Germany and other nations.

On the Statue of Liberty there is a plaque which reads "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Often people in the US did not live up to the Statue Of Liberty's "Emma Lazarus' sonnet, New Colossus, which she wrote for a fundraiser auction to raise money for the pedestal upon which the Statue of Liberty now sits." 

They hated the Italians. 

They hated the Irish. 

They hated the Puerto Rican's.

"They" were all coming in, changing the culture, and "overwhelming" our nation. There was great fear of the massive wave of immigrants each time the wave crested.

We should remember that everyone running for president in 2015-16 came from somewhere else a few generations back willingly or enslaved. Their ancestors were greeted with as little enthusiasm as some of the European nations are expressing today. Yet, they became so successful they are fishing for the most powerful position on Earth (besides the Pope!) President of the United States.

Let's not forget that over 12 million people were processed at the immigration station on Ellis Island alone. And there were many other points of entry for different immigrant wave to the US.

Most of those immigrants made America FABULOUS! We wouldn't have blue jeans without Levy Strauss, helicopters without Igor Sikorsky, abstract expressionism Willem de Kooning the Dutch-born American painter, Albert Einstein, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Henry Kissinger, Eddie Van Halen who is considered one of the greatest guitarists of all time. I could go on but you get the point.

If the Europeans can figure out a way to welcome and integrate the new wave into their societies they too can reap huge benefits from such courageous people. In today's world almost no one is living where they are natives. Humans like birds are a constantly moving species. we need smart and bold policies to deal with that fact and make those movements come out well. 

See my column about Stefan Schmidt, my closes cousin and his life saving work rescuing drowning refugees in the Mediterranean.