We Were Immigrants Once
Lizzy Ratner’s Feb. 20 article, “The Last Time We Closed the Gates,” struck a chord with me. My late father William Seligman, a Jew from Poland like Ratner’s grandfather, traveled to the United States on the RMS Aquitania in the early 1920s. He, too, entered the country through Ellis Island. Although I’m quite sure that they never met, my father and Ratner’s grandfather had comparable experiences in adjusting to the United States and becoming citizens. At rare moments, such as those occasioned by reading this article, I wonder whether I would ever have been born had my father not been able to flee Poland for the “promised land,” and had this country not been willing (perhaps reluctantly) to accept him and provide a “path to citizenship.”
In the midst of all that is going on with our government, it is important to remember the values and attitudes that contributed to the greatness that is America. I hope that Jared Kushner will remember his family history and that he will use this knowledge to help influence the decisions of the new administration.
We are a better society when we learn from our history, both personal and national. The fear of the other has always been used to unite groups that feel threatened and want to remain insular. History shows us that hatred of difference does not build a supportive or healthy society. I value the biblical exhortation to love the stranger as you love yourself. I hope we can all fight these recent attacks on immigration. Immigrants come here with an enthusiasm and work ethic that has always benefited the United States. What a dull and lifeless place we would be without their energy and perseverance.
Truly Democratic, Truly National
As a nonpartisan voter since 1950, I agree with your Feb. 20 editorial [“For Keith Ellison”]: Ellison is an ideal candidate to lead the Democratic National Committee. Whoever is elected to this post must recognize that the Democratic Party long ago lost touch with its natural constituency: those who sweat, strain, and labor hard to make a decent living. The party must also sincerely embrace another of its natural bases: progressives. Most important, our democracy is not a spectator sport. Every vote counts! US presidents—but also mayors, city-council members, county commissioners, and a host of other officials—are elected at polling stations throughout the nation, not just within the DC Beltway, at fund-raisers for big-ticket donors, or in the offices of idealistic but well-paid professionals. Keith Ellison’s record exemplifies this reality.
James L. Appleton
mountain ranch, calif.