The left’s view of refugees, then and now

Richard Pollock at the Daily Caller offers this flashback — one that’s not without irony:

Despite today’s outrage over President Donald Trump’s refugee executive order, many liberals in 1975 were part of a chorus of big name Democrats who refused to accept any Vietnamese refugees when millions were trying to escape South Vietnam as it fell to the communists.

They even opposed orphans.

The chorus was led by Jerry Brown who, then as now, was the governor of California. The “no to refugees” chorus also included George McGovern, the leading Democratic leftist of the day, and Joe Biden who, then as now, was wrong about nearly everything.

The sharpest opposition came from California and was led by Gov. Brown. Julia Taft, who in 1975 headed up President Ford’s Inter-agency Task Force on Indochinese refugee resettlement, recalled “our biggest problem came from California due to Brown.” The eccentric governor even attempted to prevent planes carrying Vietnamese refugees from landing at Travis Air Force Base outside San Francisco.

What drove the opposition to taking in refugees who had worked with or supported the U.S. during the Vietnam War and whose lives, therefore, obviously were at risk when Saigon fell to the Communists? Was there any record of pro-U.S. South Vietnamese engaging in acts of terrorism against the U.S.? Of course not.

Was there a concern about vetting them? I doubt it. If there was, it was not the stated reason for opposing their resettlement here.

The stated reason was concern that Vietnamese refugees would take American jobs or go on welfare. Taft recalled:

[Opponents] didn’t want any of these refugees, because they had. . .unemployment. They had already a large number of foreign-born people [in California]. They had – they said they had too many Hispanics, too many people on welfare, they didn’t want these people.

Gov. Brown stated:

We can’t be looking 5,000 miles away and at the same time neglecting people who live here.

Biden had his own pretext for opposing refugee settlement. He charged that the Ford Administration didn’t inform Congress adequately about the number of refugees. But as, Quang X. Pham, who was born in Saigon and later served as a Marine pilot in the Persian Gulf War, noted in a Washington Post op-ed critical of Biden, no one could know the number of refugees at the time of the chaotic evacuation of Saigon.

I suspect that anti-anti-Communism also played a role in Democratic opposition to taking in refugees who had helped us defend South Vietnam from the Communist North. One detects something of this ideology in George McGovern’s statement, quoted by Polloack, that 90 percent of the Vietnamese arrivals “would be better off going back to their own land.”

I’m pretty sure that Democrats and liberals had no sympathy for anyone benighted or reactionary enough to have opposed Uncle Ho Chi Minh’s takeover of South Vietnam. After all, these suckers were on the wrong side of history.

Refugees from today’s Middle East may (or may not) like what the U.S. stands for. But most of them have nothing in their past that smacks of backing the U.S. and nothing that undermines their status as unambiguously “the other.” Thus, it’s okay for leftists to seek special treatment for them and to castigate as heartless, or even racist, anyone who objects to limiting their ability to settle here.

Meanwhile, in his final days in office, Obama ended the “wet foot-dry foot” policy that allowed most Cubans fleeing communist Cuba who reach U.S. soil to stay and become legal permanent residents after one year. For today’s left, Raul Castro makes a passable stand-in for Ho Chi Minh.

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