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The S.S. St. Louis, Common Sense, and Obama

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

As tens of thousands of Syrians flee from the brutality of ISIS and the fighting currently ongoing in that Middle Eastern country, Eastern and Western Europe, and to a lesser extent so far the United States are dealing with a human tragedy of near biblical proportions. Syrian refugees are flooding into Europe and bringing with them untold human misery.


And perhaps also bringing with them some of the same ISIS animals who are committing the horrific atrocities back in their homeland, and who also present a clear and present danger to the people and nations wherever they may eventually settle. As the French recently discovered when ISIS inspired terrorists attacked multiple targets in Paris, bringing grief to the Parisians and shutting down the City of Lights for the first time since 1944 during World War II.

Reminiscent of the 1939 saga of the German passenger ship the S.S. St. Louis, these Syrian refugees have discovered that they are pretty much universally unwanted wherever they try to go.

In 1939 in the United States the Great Depression had left millions of Americans out of work, and any competition for the few jobs available was as unwelcome as the Black Plague. This fueled feelings of anti-semitism, and many Americans also held strict isolationist views as well.

Not much different from what we see in America today, with our weak and jobless economy under the administration of Barack Obama, and the very legitimate concerns about radical Islamic terrorism. Especially after the most recent events in Paris.

Unwanted and unwelcome, the 900 some odd Jews aboard the S.S. St. Louis were rejected from virtually every port of call they tried to make landfall in. Human nature’s worst side on display for all the world to see. Eventually the ship had to return to Europe with most of its passengers being unable to disembark until they returned back to Germany.


Fortunately the majority of the passengers from the S.S. St. Louis were able to avoid the horrors of the Nazi concentration and extermination camps. Though by sending them back to Europe and the Nazi oppression and terror beginning to develop across large swaths of the continent, one could not know at the time whether we were sending them back to an awaiting death sentence at the hands of the German Nazis.

What was taking place in Germany in 1939 and afterwards until the Allies liberated Europe and defeated the Nazis was no secret to other European nations and the United States. The true horrors of the Nazi regime would not be fully discovered until the death camps were finally liberated. But the Allied nations certainly knew that the S.S. St. Louis Jews would not be welcomed back to Germany with open arms.

While there likely were no Nazis among the passengers of the S.S. St. Louis, the same cannot be guaranteed about the refugees fleeing Syria. We simply cannot know for certain how many ISIS terrorists have insinuated themselves among the true refugees fleeing ISIS terror and atrocities. Though it is safe to assume that most likely there are a significant number of terrorists or terrorist sympathizers among those seeking safety from ISIS and the fighting.

So how does the world respond to such a difficult humanitarian challenge? Do we close our doors, bar the windows, and cup our hands over our eyes so that we don’t see the human tragedy? That might help make it possible for us to not see the suffering of a people who for the most part are simply trying to survive.


But we also cannot simply open our doors to them and allow them free entry into our country. There indeed may well be terrorists among them with evil intent in their hearts and minds. As well as the training and the capability to carry out their violent Jihadi plans right here in the U.S.

Since Barack Obama seems incapable of leading on any issue, much less this most difficult challenge, perhaps it’s time we provide some guidance for him so that he can see the light on at least this one very important issue facing the United States.

Logic dictates that Syrian refugees who have fled their Syrian homes would be much more comfortable and at ease closer to the region and the culture where they come from. Not to mention the climate they’re accustomed to and prepared for. Does it make a lot of sense to send a Syrian who has lived his whole life in the arid Syrian climate to North Dakota, where the temperature in winter can hit 20 below?

Why not establish a safe haven zone somewhere in the region closer to Syria, using resources and troops that are already in the area. The Gulf States have a vested interest in this effort, and if we had a leader who had established personal relationships with the leaders of these countries he could turn up the diplomatic charm, or heat whichever worked better, and put together a real coalition to help re-settle these Syrian people at a temporary location closer to where they’re from. One where they could await the opportunity to return to their homes once ISIS has been defeated.


The logistics and cost involved in moving hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees to other countries around Europe and to the United States, providing for their housing, food, clothing and medical care must be enormous. Doesn’t it make sense to invest that money into some sort of temporary safe haven as opposed to relocating them to far off lands where they most likely will never assimilate, nor feel much welcomed by their new neighbors?

Obviously since Barack Obama won’t commit American troops to the fight against ISIS, at the least maybe he could commit them to the humanitarian mission of providing protection for a temporary relocation community?

It makes a hell of a lot more sense to me to do something like this, than the logistical nightmare and the personal hardship placed upon the refugees to move them halfway around the world. But then again that makes sense. And making sense is a foreign concept to the Obama Administration.

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