Chart of the Day

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

A reader writes:

Regarding the Syrian refugees: I personally come down on the side of accepting as many as possible, on humanitarian grounds. However, I’ve really been annoyed by the “refugee poll” meme that’s been making the rounds this week, showing only a small minority of Americans in favor of accepting Jewish refugees back in 1938. How ignorant we were then, right?

Well, guess what else Americans didn’t support until December 7, 1941: Entering the war!* Turning away a few thousand refugees pales in comparison to the loss of life that may have been prevented had we entered earlier and made it to Germany prior to November 1944. The xenophobes were wrong, but so were the isolationists.

Given that essentially none of the voices who are emphasizing the need to accept refugees are also in favor of sending in ground troops, it’s probably best if people would stop comparing the Syrian Civil War to the Holocaust. Unless, that is, they’re ready to accept the full implications of that comparison.

*Follow here; search for “Survey #227-K Question #6” to see a margin of 12/88 for/against entering the war in January 1940. Unfortunately I couldn't find any corroborating or supporting information about the poll. I did make my own chart, though.

Seen above.