In an eloquent rebuke to the calls to exclude Muslim immigrants from the US for no other reason than that their religion has become the target of demagogic politicians and therefore unpopular with some of the US public, Massachusetts Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants, who is Jewish, strongly condemned bigotry and Islamophobia in a speech at his state's largest mosque following Friday prayers on December 18.

Speaking at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, Chief Justice Gants first referred to the Jewish tradition of acceptance of foreigners, while recalling the Jewish immigrant experience in America:

"The Old Testament many times reminds us: 'Once we were strangers in the land of Egypt, and that line is the centerpiece of the Jewish holiday of Passover. I think of that phrase often, because I know that my forefathers were once strangers in the land of the United States. as were the forefathers of nearly all of us, and many of us were not so welcome here."

Chief Justice Gants then spoke about America's history of prejudice against refugees and other immigrants from many different countries:

"In the 1840's and early 1850's, this country was not so welcoming to the influx of Irish Catholics fleeing the potato famine in Ireland...

For nearly a century, until 1965, our immigration laws were designed to prevent Chinese and Japanese from entering this country."

He continued:

"During the Great Depression, Mexican-Americans were scapegoated for the economic deprivation they did not cause, and more than two million were deported to Mexico. By some estimates, more than half were born in the United States and were therefore US citizens."

After also referring to America's history of discrimination against Italian-Americans, German-Americans, Japanese-Americans and, last but not least, African-Americans, Chief Justice Gants pointed out:

"If you add up all those who are Irish -Americans, Italian-Americans, German-Americans, Asian-Americans, Mexican-Americans, African-Americans, Jewish-Americans, all of those who were once strangers in the land of Egypt, you end up with the vast majority of this nation."

Chief Justice Gants then concluded:

"So I hold firm in the hope that, if we remember who we are and where we came from and what we once endured, if we remember that we, too, were once strangers in the land of Egypt, the vast majority of Americans will stand arm-in-arm with Muslim-Americans and together, we will get past these troubling times."


And finally, in a reminder that the rule of law Trumps the rule of hate and prejudice, he stated:

And until that happens, we still have our Constitution and our rule of law to protect us, and lawyers, prosecutors and judges prepared to apply those laws to ensure our rights."

For many of our politicians, pundits and media figures this holiday season has become the season of Donald Trump and other public figures who are either trying to stir up hatred against Muslims and other unpopular immigrant minorities, or who are too timid to oppose it.

But for those who truly understand what America means, as well as the Jewish tradition and this Christmas day itself, this season will be remembered as the season of Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.

To read more about Chief Justice Gant's appearance at the mosque, and for a link to the full text of his speech, go to:

http://huffingtonpost.com/entry/ralp...b06fa6887e755d

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Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, both of which Justice Gants also attended.

For more than 35 years, Roger has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants, from many different parts of the world and ethnic/religious backgrounds, obtain work visas and green cards. His email address is algaselex@gmail.com