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History doesn’t support words

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When I first read Mr. (Reies) Tijerina’s remark in the June 10 Optic about “the Jews who made bombs that could destroy humanity,” I was appalled that the well-spoken, politically astute advocate for the Chicano movement, could make such a blatantly ignorant, if not hateful, comment, seemingly oblivious to the entire context of World War II and the fact that Germany, among others, were also trying to develop a bomb.  

It would seem absurd to suggest that either all of the Los Alamos scientists were Jews or that only Jewish scientists worked on the Manhattan Project and subsequently, the hydrogen bomb. It is inconceivable that Mr. Tijerina could make a comment that controverts the reality that the majority of non-Jewish scientists, and a handful of Jewish scientists, worked on the bombs at the specific direction of the good, church-going President Roosevelt.

Finally, Mr. Tijerina’s most egregious oversight is his inference that these Jewish scientists reveled in their potential for destroying humanity when, as well documented, these scientists were wracked by the deep moral conflict about what this country asked of them, as most dramatically demonstrated by the Oppenheimer trial.

When Oppenheimer met with President Truman to express his reluctance to create the even more destructive hydrogen bomb, Oppenheimer was tried for being a communist. Although not found guilty of being a disloyal American, he was stripped of his security clearance and left Los Alamos a broken man. Decades later, President Kennedy awarded Oppenheimer this country’s highest science award, the Fermi, for his contributions to our national security.

If, indeed, Mr. Tijerina is not ignorant of the foregoing history, then one must presume that he intended to target Jews – subverting the “unity” theme of the occasion, instead polarizing northern New Mexico’s diverse residents.

Diana Presser
Las Vegas