Some things seem to never change, or sometimes change is slow to come.

Don’t you get the feeling that you’ve seen this before? People being crushed together.

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Myanmar police officers speaking to migrants on a fishing boat off the coast of Rakhine State on Friday. Myanmar Information Ministry, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“Before” being people crushed together as in a box car or train, or later in a barracks, something like in these pictures?

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Buchenwald 1945But the two series of pictures represent very different events in the lives of the people pictured. There are two different stories here, and they are not at all the same. The people in the boats chose to go, even paid money to go. But the others, those in the cars didn’t choose but were chosen, selected, forced to go, their things of value being taken from them without their consent.

Furthermmore, the boat people did have some “freedom” of movement, they could have jumped from the boat without an attendant trying to stop them. The others, of course, in the train compartment or box car, were not free to jump from the train, and would have been shot if they had tried.

But the big difference, of course, was that the ones were voluntarily leaving their homes to seek a better life in what they thought were more prosperous lands. Whereas the others, well they were being herded as cattle, and driven from their homes to face along the way, and at their final destination, one horror after another.

Ohrdruf, April 1945

In the picture this is Ike (Dwight David Eisenhower, Supreme Commander during WWII) arriving at the Nordhausen Camp in April of 1945. Would that he had arrived years earlier.  Would that our present leaders looked to protecting the boat people. We share most things with these people, no less than with the inhabitants of the camps. They are much like us, with the same ancient ancestry, with the same present needs. They too came out of Africa some 50,000 years ago, probably walking, or perhaps running from predators, and over thousands of years settled the whole earth until today, now, when there are nearly 8 billion of us, and when we have learned, haven’t we, that we are all precious, and that we are boat people all of us?

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Yet there is a similarity to the stories of the ones and the others. In both instances, no one on the outside of what was happening and who knew and understood what was going on, tried to stop, either the unsafe boats or the terribly crowded box cars, grant the ones a safe passage to another land, or stop the trains and return the others to their homes. Millions of the train people, and thousands of the boat people died, the ones were murdered, the others were drowned in accidents at sea that didn’t have to happen.

In the one case the world finally caught up with what was happening at Auschwitz et al. and stopped it. In the other the world has not yet made up its mind that it must do something, and the boat people are still losing their lives as their unsafe boats of passage to Europe, Malaysia, Indonesia or elsewhere are sinking.


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 Indochina



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Migrants sit on their boat as they wait to be rescued by Acehnese fishermen on the sea off East Aceh, Indonesia, Wednesday, May 20, 2015. Hundreds of migrants stranded at sea for months were rescued and taken to Indonesia, officials said Wednesday, the latest in a stream of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants to reach shore in a growing crisis confronting Southeast Asia. (AP Photo/S. Yulinnas)
Migrants sit on their boat as they wait to be rescued by Acehnese fishermen on the sea off East Aceh, Indonesia, Wednesday, May 20, 2015. Hundreds of migrants stranded at sea for months were rescued and taken to Indonesia, officials said Wednesday, the latest in a stream of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants to reach shore in a growing crisis confronting Southeast Asia. (AP Photo/S. Yulinnas)

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