In 12th grade, our European history book spoke of a village in France that sheltered over 3,000 Jews during the height of the Holocaust. The refuge wasn’t secret; its mission was known, and the town’s unity defied the Nazis’ quest to continue searching for Jews.
In sixth grade, our teacher read us “Number the Stars.” I read and reread that book, mostly because it’s set in Denmark, among dewy farms and woods that reminded me of Sweden, at a time when it had been four, then six, then eight years since I had even been in Sweden, neither money nor autonomy being in my favor. The book tells the story of when the Danes spirited nearly their entire Jewish population to safety in Sweden, right under the noses of the Nazis. The Nazis pretended oblivion.
So can an unarmed front — if united — defeat the plans of evildoers?
These stories must be why tens of thousands of Americans rushed to airports in January, to shout “Let them in!” — in spite of 9/11, the Boston Marathon bombing and the Orlando nightclub shooting and rhetoric that makes every Muslim guilty for every wrong any Muslim does. Still, they ran to airports and shouted to let more Muslims in.
If I was a non-Muslim American, I can’t tell — Would I have recalled “Number the Stars,” or would I have nodded sagely that ‘Islam hates us’?