During the 1930s, the St. Louis, a ship loaded with Jewish refugees from Nazi, Germany sailed along the east coast of the United States seeking to land its cargo of people whose only choice was the US or return to Europe and probable death. No offer of sanctuary came from the American government nor any other Western Hemisphere country, so the St. Louis returned to Belgium. After Belgium was conquered, most of those who had been on the ship eventually wound up in death camps. In August, 2010, a ship loaded with refugees from the horror of war in Sri Lanka are sailing along the west coast of Canada seeking refuge from the possible return to their homes in a land that does not offer Tamils equal rights. There are 490 humans on the ship, men, women and children. As they gaze from the deck of the ship, angry voices are being heard in Canada demanding their return to Sri Lanka. “Send them back,” say the missives or “So, they’ve come from a very bad situation, so what!”
Those expressing these views attend a church or synagogue and nod their heads in agreement with words urging peace and compassion, but when opportunities arise to carry into fruition the words, silence is the response. Just remember, Canadians, what happened to the people on the St. Louis.