Imagine running for your life, from your life in Afghanistan, being able to take only what fits in a knapsack, or a wheeled suitcase.
Look at this picture. Everything of value is in the pitifully small carry ons they were permitted to bring. Maybe some money and valuables, but little more than a couple of changes of clothing.
Put yourself in their place. Coming to a new country, a new world, with basically nothing.
A CBS poll reported 81% of Americans think the U.S. should help those Afghans who worked for us. I can’t imagine what is wrong with the other 19%.
Perhaps their spokesman is Donald Jackass Trump, who issued a sardonic statement that the Taliban “didn’t allow the best and brightest to board these evacuation flights.” Echoing his murderers and rapists line about illegal immigrants from Mexico.
If he pulled his head out of his ass long enough to read (God forbid) a newspaper, or even turn to Fox News, he would learn the Taliban actually want to stop these Afghans from leaving because they are the best and the brightest. Even the religious fanatics realize they need educated people to keep the power on, the water running, and the books balanced.
Let’s admit that among the tens of thousands of refugees we will accept there will be some criminals and even a few terrorists. Just as in the American body of natural-born citizens we have murderers, and rapists, scam artists, arsonists, and worse.
Studies show, however, that immigrants, even illegal ones — which these are not — are less likely to commit crimes than natural-born Americans.
The Afghanis remind me of immigrant waves of the past — such as those arriving here from Vietnam, and Cuba before that, often with little more than the clothes on their back, but burning in their hearts . . . freedom.
I think of another airlift — when Israel flew into Ethiopia to rescue thousands of threatened Jews who belonged to a distant branch of the religion. It was said to be the first time in history Blacks were taken from Africa and brought to freedom and safety.
It made me proud to be a Jew, and proud of Israel.
I have already called the Nationalities Service Center to volunteer to meet refugees at the airport and take them to their new homes. NSC and HIAS both are active in resettling refugees and are worthy of your financial support.
In the past, I have written about Iraqis who escaped with their lives, and immigrants from other countries, who sought freedom and opportunity. It brings to mind lyrics from Neil Diamond’s “America.”
Home, don’t it seem so far away
We’re traveling light today
In the eye of the storm
In the eye of the storm
In the early going, their lives will be difficult in a new culture, with a new language, and low-paying jobs.
But what I know from experience is that most — like earlier immigrants — will rise to the surface. Some will hit amazing heights — as did Albert Einstein (physics), to Elon Musk (PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX), plus too many others to name.
I know something else. Their children will bless them — as I bless the memory of my grandparents — for coming here so that I could be born in America, the land of the free.
The gift of being able to breathe free lasts a lifetime.