You would put your children in a boat too, if that^^ was your reality. After all, they’re not bombing the sea. Let’s play a horrifying game of “Would You Rather”. Which would you prefer: watching your toddler drown in the ocean or listening to them scream in fear before being shredded to death by a bomb?
It reminds me of another haunting, heartbreaking question, one we considered 14 years ago. Would you have stayed in the World Trade Center with your co-workers and burned, or, desperate to avoid fire and building collapse, would you have held hands and jumped? If that question emotionally eviscerates you, as it still does me, please consider directing some of that horror, sorrow, and compassion towards other innocents, who are still here, and merely unfortunate enough to be born somewhere else.
These. Christ’s “least” (Matthew 25:40). These are the alleged “terrorists” we are callously hardening our hearts toward and turning away. Children wailing in terror and agony. I love this country and there is nowhere else I want to be, but I am ashamed that history is repeating its ugly self.
Just as we sent back Jews who desperately fled Hitler’s pogroms via the ocean liner St. Louis in 1939 — more than a quarter of whom later perished in the Holocaust, because Roosevelt was too busy planning for a third term to answer their cables pleading for sanctuary — we are similarly shutting our doors to the neediest and most vulnerable of our world. Never again, we said, often and with fervent conviction. But it is “again”. Again.
And just as we gave into xenophobia, paranoia, and isolationism 75 years ago, when we wouldn’t even consider special legislation to welcome 20,000 Jewish children from Germany into our arms, now we blindly screech about ISIS and the potential for “infiltration” even though we have accepted almost a million refugees since the towers fell, and not one of them is a terrorist. None of those refugees have been arrested. None.
My Muslim friends say, “Not in my name.” Well, as a devout Christian, I now join them. You want to hate and fear the least of Jesus’ brothers and sisters, go ahead and do so, but know this: you will surely burn in hellfire for disobeying his word, the words that actually matter, not the ones that prohibit wearing no-iron shirts or jeggings, enjoying rare steaks and burgers, or breeding labradoodles, puggles, and cockapoos.
I feel justified in making that proclamation, because such actions and motivations are exactly what our Lord and savior railed against:
41 Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
43 A stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’
44 Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’
45 He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’
46 And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Those of you who are proud to bleat about rejecting Syrian refugees, out of “concern” for our nation’s safety, who would callously slam liberty’s door in the tear-streaked faces of the lost, you do not speak for me, or anyone else with a functioning heart and brain. Remove your head from your poorly-cleaned ass and employ whatever meager reading comprehension skills you hopefully possess: no potential immigrant is more scrutinized than an asylum-seeker in the U.S. What secret terrorist is going to patiently endure an arduous, agonizing process that involves screenings from five different agencies?
Several federal agencies, including the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the Defense Department, the National Counterterrorism Center and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, are involved in the process, which Deputy State Department Spokesman Mark Toner recently called, “the most stringent security process for anyone entering the United States.” CNN
Juma Al-Ahmad, Director of Shahba Press (an alternative, independent media agency), ran outside on Tuesday October 27th 2015 to document the gruesome reality of being on the ground in an Aleppo suburb while being attacked by Russian air strikes. He recorded three out of four bombings; the final one, which is embedded above, apparently killed him. He died so we could see, and I cannot comprehend how anyone who worships G-d can watch that video (or look at that drowned child) and not want to open our doors to the “least”. We must open our eyes, then our hearts, so we can open our arms and actively follow the example set by Jesus Christ.
Follow Christ. How paradoxical is this: the same people who agitate against allowing refugees into this nation are often quite proud of being “born again” or committed devotees of Christ. They would do well to start acting like the man they claim to model their lives and priorities around, and keep his holy commandment to love our neighbors —an especially poignant and apposite rule, because when asked to clarify exactly whom he meant by that term, Jesus explained that “neighbor” meant anyone in need, even if they are our enemies.
Additionally, one of the laws of social responsibility laid out in Exodus even addresses this issue directly, by exhorting us to never mistreat or oppress foreigners. If my co-religionists can’t muster the compassion and decency to worry about our foreign, vulnerable neighbors in this life, perhaps they can be motivated by self-interest and realize that their actions will doom them in the next.
I know. That was way harsh, Tai. But hey. They were warned.