From the Washington Post Letters to the Editor:
The State Department’s surprisingly low estimate of the death toll in Sudan — 60,000 to 160,000, as compared with the 400,000 estimated by human rights groups [editorial, April 24] — is disturbingly reminiscent of a controversy involving the State Department during the Holocaust.
In November 1943 Assistant Secretary of State Breckinridge Long, who was in charge of the Roosevelt administration’s immigration policy, testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee concerning a congressional resolution urging creation of a U.S. government agency to rescue refugees from Hitler. Long, who was privately anti-Semitic as well as bitterly opposed to refugee immigration, sought to undercut the rescue resolution. Trying to demonstrate that a new rescue agency was unnecessary, Long testified that “we have taken into this country since the beginning of the Hitler regime and the persecution of the Jews, until today, approximately 580,000 refugees.”
But the actual number of immigrants was not more than 250,000, and many of them were not Jews. Long’s wild exaggeration backfired. His testimony set off a firestorm of criticism from the media, Jewish organizations and members of Congress, giving important new momentum to the campaign for U.S. rescue action.
Today we know why the State Department in 1943 presented an implausibly high estimate of Jewish immigration to the United States. By contrast, we do not know what shaped the State Department’s recent decision to embrace an implausibly low estimate of the Sudan death toll. All we can say is that today, no less than in 1943, government officials have an obligation to present statistics that are not tainted by political considerations.
Accuracy and a determination to stop genocide should be their only motives.
David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies
Melrose Park, Pa.
I would never write another word about James Dobson, Randall Terry, or any of them if they would end their war on fags and focus their energy instead on the wholesale slaughter of Christians in Africa.