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Politicization of the Refugees

Des Moines Register Thank You Letter

A letter from AFSC to the Des Moines Register

In 1939, the United States government held an isolationist view when it came to international affairs. Some Midwesterners believed that Scattergood was a Fifth Column Institution, a base from which Nazis might stage covert attacks against the United States. Scattergood refugees arrived in a delicate political environment.

Newspapers such as the Des Moines Register used the arrival of refugees as an opportunity to shape public opinion. Like many editorial boards, theĀ Register urged the U.S. to bring in more refugees and to intervene in Europe. The newspaper used the stories of the refugees to emphasize the importance of U.S. action. The AFSC and Scattergood staff recognized the value of positive media coverage.