Volume 76, Number 42 | March 14 - 20, 2007

Talking Point

Anne Frank as posthumous scapegoat and immigrant

By Andrei Codrescu

A U.S. lawmaker has submitted a bill seeking honorary citizenship for Anne Frank, to make up, presumably, for the grave sin of refusing her and her family entry to the U.S. when it could have meant saving their lives.

Making Anne Frank a U.S. citizen now would mean stealing her from the world to expiate American guilt. Instead of making a posthumous U.S. citizen, let’s find out who in Washington denied her a visa and sentenced her to death, and then make him or her a noncitizen. Let’s find out and expose all the highly placed officials in Washington who knew about the Holocaust in Europe and did nothing. We could make them posthumous noncitizens. Some may even still be alive, decaying quietly amid Nazi memorabilia.

Anne Frank doesn’t need to be a dead citizen. When she was alive, no nation served her. Germany wanted her dead. The Dutch persons who aided the Franks were first of all human and only after that Dutch. The Dutch person who betrayed her was first of all Dutch, then human. The United States, which was one of the few safe places from the national insanities of Europe, also rejected them. Why? Because someone in charge of quotas decided that our great nation could no longer take in so many Jews. In other words someone decided that we were Americans first, and only then human.

We won’t expiate our guilt by rewriting history. We cannot take it all back by giving out retroactive rewards. There was a big to-do a while back when the Mormon Church decided to baptize dead non-Mormons. Jewish people were particularly offended by having their departed being recruited for ostensible “salvation.”

Making Anne Frank a U.S. citizen now means diminishing her legacy to make her the possessor of a national passport. Who would do such a thing? She no longer needs saving, but the people who would now “save” her, certainly do. They need to be saved from hubris and phony repentance.

Nations, even democratic and seemingly welcoming ones, need to ask their nationhood a few questions:

What percentage of citizens are first citizens of their nations and only then human?

Are the Europeans of the new E.U. willing to take yearly the Anne Frank test, namely: will an E.U. citizen help someone marked for death for being an “alien,” or will they betray them for the “good of the European nation”?

Will U.S. citizens take the test?

How many Anne Franks are out there in Africa now?

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