In his review of the book “FDR and the Jews” [Outlook, May 26], James McAuley claimed that the 1940s activists known as the Bergson Group “made public appeals meant to strongarm the [U.S.] government into action” to rescue Jews from the Holocaust.
My great-grandfather, the late Rep. Andrew Lawrence Somers (D-N.Y.), was a prominent supporter of the Bergson Group. Throughout his long tenure in the House — 12 consecutive terms from 1925 to 1949 — he strove diligently to advocate for the Jewish people imperiled by Hitler and, later, to advocate for the recognition of the nascent state of Israel. He was not a zealot; rather, he stood by his moral obligations even when it meant going against the Democratic Party line.
Neither he nor the Bergsonites strong-armed anybody. They did exactly what a citizen should do when the government fails to do the right thing: They spoke out, wrote articles, sponsored newspaper ads, organized petitions and marched in protest. That’s not strong-arming; that’s democracy in action.
Philip Lawrence Somers Deely, New York