Bret between early Jewish immigrants versus foreignersBret between early Jewish immigrants versus foreigners

Bret Stephens’ recent publish for the New York Times, A Modest Immigration Proposal: Ban Jews, is a rhetorically driven
article that brings to
the forefront issues of our modern day society, specifically regarding foreign
immigration policy. The passionate article urges
readers to imagine if the United States would have banned Jewish immigrants in
the 20th century. How would that have impacted this nation? How different would
everyday life be? The author directs the audience’s attention to the
many parallels between early Jewish immigrants versus foreigners entering
America today. In his article, columnist Bret Stephens
delivers a powerful argument driven by personal experience and ethnic parallelism,
however, the credibility of his piece is moderately affected by inaccurate
historical claims and unfair generalizations.

            Stephens’ article begins with a
controversial and uncomfortable title, A Modest Immigration
Proposal: Ban Jews. Nonetheless, it
is a successful attention grabber for readers due to its appeal to pathos. The
discomfort in reading the heading is purposeful; if the word “Jews” is replaced
with “Muslims,” it highlights what the majority of the United States is
prescribing. Readers in their right mind should feel discomfort or confusion
after seeing the title, which of course is the intended emotional appeal.

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            The New York Times columnist starts into the true argument with an
appeal to ethos. He claims that his “dad’s Uncle Bern was a communist
sympathizer,” but “he probably wouldn’t have hurt a fly.” Through this family
experience, Bret has learned that although his great Uncle “found much to
admire in the most murderous ideology of the 20th century,” he lead
a particularly uneventful life. Through this credibility, the author makes a
claim that the vast majority of Jewish people who entered the United States had
nothing to do with the problems blamed on the race as a whole. Essentially, the
same predicament is occurring with third world foreigners in modern America.
The author uses rhetorical questioning to ask if this country would have banned
Jewish people in the 20th century, would it be nearly as great or
advanced today? If not, why are Muslims denied the opportunity to prove
themselves as well?

            Stephens next appeals to
logos with the statement, “consider some of the parallelisms.” The author first
presents an analogy regarding New York City police commissioner Theodore
Bingham, who claimed “half the city’s criminals were Jews,” when in fact, not
even twenty percent of crimes were committed by Jewish people. Bret effectively
uses this information to claim that the “Trumpian Propaganda” pins the same
fate on Muslims. He strengthens this argument with ethos, utilizing quotes from
both Donald Trump and immigration restrictionist Madison Grant, which show
intentions of racial desirability in the United States.

The columnist next
uses parallelism by highlighting quotes from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and
a 1907 McClure’s Magazine article. They both undermine the thought that
bringing foreigners with “inadequate preparation for American citizenship,” to
this country is pointless. Using this rhetorical device, Bret claims that Jews were
uneducated and useless when it was time to contribute to the United States, but
they assimilated, much like the Muslims would if they got the chance.

The author’s final
argument appeals to both logos and ethos, drawing claims from two well-known
Americans. Stephens uses a campaign quote from Donald Trump stating “Syrian
refugees could make
the Trojan horse look like peanuts.” He draws a connection with Henry Ford, the
famous creator of the reliable automobile, who “accused Jews of causing the
First World War.” This effective use of parallelism drives home the fact that
Jews were blamed for many events which they did not partake in. The utilization
of rhetoric portrays that Muslims are now in the Jewish people’s position, and
American citizens have to consider where our country would be if it, according
to Stephens, “would have followed the advice of the immigration restrictionists
in the late 19th century.”

Although the
author is successful in delivering his message that discrimination against
Jewish people in the 20th century is essentially identical to the
treatment of Muslims today, the piece displays a controversial lack of history.
The first mishap comes with the claim that “most of these people like his
Uncle …were deeply misguided idealists.” Although it
is true that Jews were drawn to the party by “a bright new world where justice,
peace, and freedom will replace strife, injustice and inhumanity,” (Wright,
165) m

Stephens’ next
makes false claims while discussing the assimilation of Jews versus Muslims.
Although some Jewish immigrants may have lacked education coming into the
country, most assimilated quickly and have escalated to the top of the American
education system.