Seeing beyond the lies of racism

In the months before the start of World War II, over 900 Jews boarded the SS St. Louis in Hamburg harbour in hopes of escaping the racism of Nazi Germany.

The ship was destined for Cuba, but once it arrived, passengers were not allowed to disembark. Efforts to land in the Dominican Republic, the United States, Canada and several other countries also failed.

The SS St. Louis had no choice but to return to Europe; however, all of its passengers were able to obtain visas to other European countries. Most of them soon found themselves living in Nazi held territories, and the vast majority of them died during the war.

The tragedy of the SS St. Louis is a tragedy for all of us. Here we had a ship full of gifted souls, ready and willing to use their talents for the betterment of humanity. Imagine where Canadian society would be today had we been able to see beyond the lies of racism.

A recent study done at Stanford University attests to this speculation, noting that German Jewish émigrés (after 1933) had a hugely positive effect on U.S. innovation.

What was true of Jewish refugees from Nazi German is true of refugees and immigrants coming to Canada today. These people are very heavily screened, and immigration officials make sure that we only get the best of the best. Statistics on the children of immigrants show that they have education and income levels higher than those of the general population.

The bottom line is that we all benefit from immigration. Efforts to keep out entire groups of people based on religion and ethnicity are not only morally reprehensible, they are foolish.

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