Included was Rochester Institute of Technology’s President Bill Destler and his wife Rebecca Johnson. President Destler said many RIT students could be effected by the order that he thinks is both unconstitutional and un-American.
George couldn’t attend the event. But he provides a reflection on other Americans who came from other countries.
Would Einstein Be Welcome in America Today?
What would the history of art be like if Piet Mondrian, the Dutch painter and World War II refugee, was denied access to New York City in 1940?
What if Marc Chagall, the Jewish-Russian painter, was unable to escape Bolshevism for asylum in the U.S.?
What would have happened to Madeleine Albright, the former U.S. Secretary of State, if she and her family did not flee to America from Czechoslovakia in 1948?
What about Hannah Arendt, the brilliant author and political theorist, who was born in Germany, in 1933? She fled persecution by the Nazis, eventually becoming a naturalized citizen of the U.S. in 1950.
How different would the field of anthropology be if Claude Levi-Strauss, the French-Jewish ethnologist, was turned away from America after he was stripped of his citizenship under the Vichy Anti-Semitic laws?
What would the world of letters be like if Vladimir Nabokov was killed in the Russian Civil War rather than emigrating to the safety of America. Or if Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the Russian writer and winner of 1970 Nobel Prize in Literature, was not allowed to go to the U.S., but was executed in the USSR?
And what would have happened to Mr. Einstein if Princeton did not receive him in 1938? The Nobel Prize-winning physicist escaped Nazi Germany because an American university was willing to honor and reward his intellectual gifts by granting him both tenure and liberty all at once.
Is it different today because the aforementioned names are mainly white European intellectuals who are from non-Muslim countries?
Simply put: Trump’s illegal ban on refugees is fundamentally un-American. This nation does not have the right to turn groups away. Nor does it have the right to shut groups down. It is a country bound together by the principles of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. These principles apply to all people.
For more than two centuries the policy of openness, trust, and love of diversity, has paved the way for groundbreaking achievements in the arts and sciences. It is the spirited invention of the immigrant’s journey that has been our greatest legacy. It is what makes our nation admirable. If nothing else the world loves us because we are a nation of immigrants. From the first people to trek across the Bering Straight to the next El Salvadoran migrant to cross the Rio Grande, America is America because they are here.
With that being said, just think about it. What if Albert Einstein was stuck at JFK right now because he is a Jew from war torn Europe?