Sunday, November 22, 2015

Giving the Terrorists What They Want

Excerpt from New Colossus – From the Plaque on The Statue of Liberty
"Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
– Emma Lazarus

This morning the Donald was on the TV talk shows stating his case for not allowing Syrian refugees into the US.  He doubled down on his previous rant about creating a registry for ALL Muslims in our country.   [Does this registry sound vaguely familiar?]  "I'm putting people on notice that are coming here from Syria as part of this mass migration, that if I win, they're going back."  

Ted Cruz said that President Obama’s plan to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees is, “nothing short of lunacy.” "I recognize that Barack Obama does not wish to defend this country, that he may have been tired of war, but our enemies are not tired of killing us," he added.

Ben Carson suggested that bringing refugees to this country is like having a rabid dog in the neighborhood. “For instance, if there’s a rabid dog running around in your neighborhood, you’re probably not going to assume something good about that dog, and you’re probably going to put your children out of the way,” Carson said. “It doesn’t mean that you hate all dogs by any stretch of the imagination, but you’re putting your intellect into motion.”  

Weeks ago, Ben Carson said, "I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that."  (“Meet the Press")

Just prior to Carson's interview, Donald Trump fielded a comment from a supporter on the campaign trail who said, "We have a problem in this country; it's called Muslims."  Donald Trump did not disagree.


So what do the terrorists want?  I have a sense that the feelings expressed above are exactly what they desire.  They would like for mainstream America to hate and distrust their Muslim neighbors.  They would prefer if there were a huge rift in our culture between Muslims and non-Muslims.  They would like us, as a nation, to fear Muslims and alienate them; to consider them dangerous.  They would prefer it if we were to leave the refugees to starve.  They would prefer for us to give the world the impression that we are fearful and isolated and that our “Christian nation” is not open to helping our Muslim brothers and sisters.

The candidates above all espouse Christianity.  They wear it like a badge.  They use it as a tool in this campaign.  Trump even likes the Bible more than his own book, The Art of the Deal. “The Bible, is special. The Bible, the more you see it, the more you read it, the more incredible it is. I don’t like to use this analogy [wait for it - he will], but like a great movie, a great, incredible movie. You’ll see it once it will be good. You’ll see it again. You can see it 20 times and every time you’ll appreciate it more. The Bible is the most special thing.”

Ted Cruz  announced the creation of a “national prayer team.”  Mr. Cruz, who has aggressively courted the support of evangelicals, said the creation of the team would “establish a direct line of communication between our campaign and the thousands of Americans who are lifting us up before the Lord.”

Well played.  Really.

Sanctuary: Although the vast majority of Syrian refugees live in Middle Eastern refugee camps, they are now landing on European shores (pictured) in record numbers

But how Christian is it to turn our backs on refugees who need our help?  This is a matter of life and death for many thousands of people who fear radical, murderous terrorists as much as we do.  Only more.  Many who are fleeing Syria are running for their very lives.  They are trying to protect the lives of their children.  They are trying to leave violence behind.  They are begging for help. 

Today when I was in church, the scripture was from Revelation.  Honestly, I don’t get Revelation that much.  I have heard people try to decipher it, to parse its words, to peel away the meanings like the layers of an onion to find the hidden value beneath. 

Have at it. 

Me?  I’m sort of a red-letter guy.  You know, the stuff that Jesus said.  That’s what I hang my hat on.  That is what I trust.  I don’t need anyone to analyze it or explain it to me. 

Try this from Matthew. 
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

When we look back on our American past, there are things we should be ashamed of.  Much of the world considers the annihilation of Native Americans to be the greatest genocide in history.  There were millions of African American slaves in our country.  Then Jim Crow.  Manifest Destiny.    Internment camps.  Dropping The BOMB.  Vietnam.  Invading Iraq on false pretenses. 

And, oh yeah, we are a nation of immigrants and refugees.  Unless you are Native American, you or your ancestors probably came to these shores to seek a better life, to flee persecution or famine.  Or perhaps your ancestors came here as slaves, barely surviving the brutal middle passage at the hands of white... terrorists.

Right now, we have a chance to create our history in a way that reflects what we know is right.  We can be brave.  We can be altruistic.  We can be patriotic.  We can do the right thing.  

There will come a time when we will look back at what we do concerning the refugees.  And when we look back at these scary times, will see ourselves as a nation who succumbed to fears spread by those who seek only political gain, those who seek to spread hatred and mistrust, those who would rob us of our kindness? 

There are people who need us.  We must make a choice that reflects what we believe at our core.  I am a Christian.  My faith dictates that we should help those in need.  These refugees are hungry.  They are thirsty.  They need clothes and comfort.  We have so much. 

How do we wish to write our history?

Do we wish to give the terrorists what they want?


The Dashboard Poet said...


Ruth Anne O'Keefe said...

Mary and Joseph were refugees, only looking for a safe, warm place to deliver a baby, on Christmas eve. How can you have a creche and not see that?