Did We Refuse To Sign Trump’s Munich Agreement Last Night?

Note: This story originally appeared on my blog on January 29, 2017.

I once read the following statement in a self-help book about emotional blackmail: “Never give Poland to Hitler.” That is, never give into an unreasonable demand, even if it means that you’ll have to fight; standing your ground the first time an emotionally abusive person makes unreasonable demands will prevent an escalation of demands.

I always puzzled over that saying. Shouldn’t the book have read, “Never give Czechoslovakia to Hitler”? After all, Hitler’s annexation of the western portion of the country is what really set World War II into motion.

For those of you who didn’t pay attention in history class, Hitler annexed the Sudentenland, a region in Czechoslovakia, in September of 1938, arguing that the region’s large number of ethnic Germans much preferred to live under German rule. The French and British governments, remembering the horrors of the first World War and eager to prevent a second, agreed to let Hitler have the area in the Munich Agreement. And this was after Hitler illegally joined Germany and Austria in the Aunchluss that March, something expressly forbidden by the Treaty of Versaille. Emboldened by Europe’s policy of appeasement, Hitler pushed for Poland next, invading the country outright the next fall. The United Kingdom and France declared war on Germany and World War II officially began.

Hitler later admitted that he had been surprised by how quickly Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister, and the rest of Europe had acquiesced to his demands for the Sudentenland. He even went so far as to admit that World War II may not have happened if the Western allies had taken a firmer stance with him.

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably wondering why I told you this. Well, much like Hitler before him, Trump is a power hungry bully who is intent on breaking, or at least permanently bending, the rules laid out in the American Constitution. And his fascissistic displays and utterances during the 2016 presidential campaign alarmed Germans who were quick to draw comparisons between Trump’s nationalistic populism and the leader of the doomed Third Reich.

On Friday afternoon, Trump signed an Executive Order to ban Muslims from entering the United States. Afterward, several Muslims who were in the country legally were detained at JFK airport, as well as other airports around the country.

News of the detentions spread like wildfire on social media. The protest at JFK quickly ballooned to a protest attended by thousands of people. And that was just New York. Protests were staged in several other US cities as well.

The ACLU filed suit on behalf of the detainees. A New York City judge as well as judges in three other states issued emergency stays. While some of the detainees have been released as of this writing, an undetermined number of others are still being held.

While it may be tempting for the protesters to fall into self-congratulatory back patting, the battle has only been half won. Until every detainee is released and Trump’s Muslim reentry ban has been declared unconstitutional and dumped onto the ash heap of history, the people of New York must continue to resist the Trump regime.

And we must resist, just as strongly, the urge to sign our own Munich Agreements, the urge to “give Trump a chance” for the “sake of the country.” If we are truly concerned about the “sake of the country,” we can never give Czechoslovakia to Hitler.