The Golden Door

Statue of Liberty Hanukkah Menorah

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it—George Santayana

Ken Burns’ new documentary, The U.S. and the Holocaust, premiered this week on PBS. This three-part, six-hour series will remain available for free streaming through mid-October. It tells the story of the plight of Europe’s Jews, from the rise of Hitler’s Nazism, through the end of World War II. As the show’s title implies, special emphasis is placed upon America’s reaction to the Holocaust. The inclusion of this Smithsonian menorah’s photo seemed so appropriate for this post, since Lady Liberty stood as symbolic guardian of America’s golden door. Through a mixture of apathy, ignorance, antisemitism and white supremacy, America made the Holocaust so much worse than it would otherwise have been and America seems on the verge of repeating those same mistakes again now. When Burns recount’s American reaction to the Holocaust, the historical parallels between then and now seem scarily similar and begs the question, are we headed there again, to Déjà Vu, all over again?

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