It’s been a strange week to say the least. We’ve witnessed, sadly, more terrorist attacks in Paris. ISIS has claimed responsibility, and we continue to confront this barbaric group across the globe as they offer themselves up as death squads, taking as many others as possible with them.
The world of course is of mixed opinion on what to do. The usual war mongers call for “all out war”, accusing this of being an existential threat. It is as if ISIS is determined to return to medieval times unless we turn our back on civilized responses and “wipe them off the face of the earth.”
Perhaps this is so. Others feel a more nuanced approach is better, arguing that we play into their hands by making it an East-West war of competing lifestyles.
Then again, the answer may lie somewhere down the middle. It is not as though it seems that “these people” can be rationally addressed. In utter frustration we seem to assume that we must obliterate rather than change minds.
As one might predict, the war of words has been impressive across social media, much of it loud and angry. This places in a newer context the issue of the mass exodus occurring in Syria as tens of thousands flee for their very lives before the spectre of violence that knows no end it seems.
We are in what is now sadly, prime time in our election cycle. Since most candidates are running virtually from the day they are elected, we are forced to endure the endless posturing of candidates (real or only imagined in their own minds) about every “crisis” real or imagined that might drum up a vote here or there.
Syrian refugees has become the new cause celeb to toss around as needed. Yes, toss around, for the individuals matter not at all here. They are en mass, “refugees” and as such the ball being tossed back and forth between competing sides.
Is it ironic that a nation that was built upon immigration now wars with itself over whether we should accept the tired, sick, terrified men, women and children of Syria? Our fair share at least?
I have heard such excuses. They can’t be properly vetted some say, having of course no idea what the vetting even entails or how long it lasts. They will bring disease, crime, and “use up our resources we need for our own unfortunate,” others claim, though we of course forget that when the refugees are not the issue, some fairly claim that the unfortunate in this country (if the takers, abusers, and lazy sorts are removed) are small indeed and can easily be handled by “charity”.
The more we negate these excuses, the more are made up, the hotter the rhetoric and surely someone is bound to ask, “why don’t you take them then?” as if this strawman argument helps them avoid the Christian constriction squeezing off their breathing.
No, more properly Christianist.
For all major denominations have publicly called for taking in the refugees from Syria. It is the Christian thing to do.
It’s also the American thing to do. It is surely the moral thing to do. It may well be the human thing to do.
The Christianists don’t see it that way. And I can’t explain that.
It seems as clear as the nose on your face. Or mine. Jesus called all to care for the neighbor among us. And he defined neighbor in ways that left no doubt that he meant especially those that you don’t want to think of as neighbor. When we care for the “least of these” as he put it, we care for Him.
The old fiery God of the Hebrew Testament said pretty much the same thing. The stranger among you was to be treated with courtesy and respect. They were to be cared for. They were to be invited in for a meal and rest. Fields were to be left for gleaning by those weary road travelers.
The bible read literally or otherwise leaves little doubt what God wishes of us. And for those who hold no truck with the bible or faith, there is basic good old common morality to turn to. We know it’s the right thing to do, because we usually “feel” what is right, and feel embarrassed when we stray too far from it.
Yet, many people here in this country are saying no, and saying it loudly and unapologetically. They often say they are sorry, just before they shake their heads back and forth. “Just ain’t safe. Have to protect our own.”
And the damnedest thing is these folks call themselves Christians. And when you look at the array of those who are saying NO to refugees, damn near all of them proclaim themselves to be Christian.
They are not of course, because they cannot explain their position except to say that when people are trying to kill ya, well, God understands if we have to suspend that Jesus shit for a while.
They don’t actually say this of course, but that’s what it comes down to. They say their “heart tells them to help but their head tells them no.”
They are egged on by all those candidates who are so desperate to find a place in the sun for their dreams to come true. They spread the fear and the hate, all in the name of protecting the good citizens of Merika. They don’t mean it of course. It’s a useful tool.
“Gin up the base,” their stage managers scream. Rile ’em up and we will win next year. If there is a next year. And the masses, drunk on too much Sunday beer and football, nod, and rub their fingers down the barrel of their “piece of protection” and imagine being a “hero” in the neighborhood, something the Cruz’s and Huck’s and Rubio’s threaten might occur if we don’t beat back the hordes of semi-human evildoers.
Not even human to most of this ilk, the refugee is “other”, not American, not civilized, not Christian, or least ways not rightly Christian. Not Christian the way they are, demanding that bakers and photographers be allowed to publicly refuse people who don’t sleep with the right sex. Not Christian the way they are, in promoting a full capitulation by women to men who “know better” how that pregnancy and new born should be cared for.
This is all wrapped in the flag and the bible now, this sludge that passes for Christianity among the “patriotic uber conservative right.” It is not real Christianity at all, but the sewer bilge that passes for truth among those who find higher education a waste of time when “common sense” is all we need.
These Christianists have defined themselves through the pages of a book such that they can do and believe exactly what they wish to, while their newly created God smiles benignly. Lock and Load for Christ! Yeah, that passage about, man being made in God’s image? You took that to mean that God was pretty much like you huh? WRONG.
There is good and bad in all faith systems no doubt. ISIS is but proof of what one small group can do to threaten the well-being of the beliefs of 1.2 billion people. Fundamentalists Christianists offer the same threat to actual Christians. Christianists are only occasionally violent in their acts so far, but by their rhetoric there is little doubt that the bloodlust is rising and they are ready and excited to do battle murdering the “other” as a means to secure their own power and prestige.
Nobody, I suspect, would have believed that so many in the name of Jesus would deny Jesus so thoroughly with their rhetoric.
We, whether actual Christian or Agnostic or Atheist, most of us know what is the right thing to do. We are either an example of right to the world (something we have failed again and again at), or we are not. We cannot have this conversation at all and claim exceptionalism, except to admit with heads hanging that we are oh so not exceptional at all. Are we motivated by selfishness, or by our principles?
The ones who lead the charge to close the borders, deport, suspend, or ignore the Other are those who scream the loudest that our Christian principles are being ignored, trampled upon and secularized out of existence. How they can twist it all to come out against refugees (except perhaps those who can be proven to be Christians) is beyond the mind of a normal soul to figure out.
I am not a believer in hell per se, but there are times I wish God might create such a place. I have a list He might want to look at, of those that might deserve it. Surely those who wave Jesus banners and then spit in the face of moral behavior are prime candidates.