“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go visit you?
“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.’”
– Matthew 37:40
In what was a horrible juxtaposition of events, on January 27, 2017, President Asshat the U.S. President issued an executive order (EO) entitled “PROTECTING THE NATION FROM FOREIGN TERRORIST ENTRY INTO THE UNITED STATES” which banned individuals from seven “countries of concern” (so named in 2016) from entering the United States. These countries – Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen – are predominantly Muslim.
Section 1 of the EO, which sets forth the order’s purpose, referenced the 19 hijackers who killed nearly 3,000 Americans on September 11 fifteen years ago. September 11 is mentioned twice more in Section 1 (which is only 3 paragraphs).
None of the 19 hijackers were from the seven countries listed in the ban.
Later that day and during an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, the President indicated that priority would be given to people seeking refugee status who were Christian.
Both these events occurred on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which observes the murder of more than six million Jews by Nazi Germany.
The same U.S. President issued a statement earlier that day, recognizing International Holocaust Remembrance Day …. with no mention of the near total annihilation of Jews in Europe.
So, on the single day that globally commemorates one of the most codified, orderly and systematic acts of genocide in the last century, President Asshat the U.S. President managed to extend special protections to Christian refugees, and managed to not mention Jews at all.
[I shudder to think what he’ll manage to say, do, or sign on Earth Day or World Refugee Day.]
The United States’ record of taking in Jewish refugees during the Holocaust is less than robust. Anne Frank’s father sought protection for his family to emigrate to the U.S., and was denied. And the German ship The St. Louis , carrying more than 900 Jewish refugees, was denied entry at the port of Miami. It returned to Europe, and more than a quarter of its passengers were murdered in places like Auschwitz and Treblinka.
Many of them were children.
Horrible events occur from which people will flee. It’s a story that’s as old as …. well, the dawn of human civilization. The Bible tells us stories of persecuted people fleeing their land. Throughout history, wars have been fought that people have tried to escape. Human beings run from genocide. Famine caused by droughts bring refugees to other regions who only want to escape starvation. Climate occurrences cause events like the Dust Bowl to happen, and people fled Oklahoma and the surrounding area.
People, when faced with cataclysmic circumstances, run toward life.
This brings us to the other juxtaposition, date-wise, of the EO. It was issued during the so-called pro-life movement’s annual “March for Life” in Washington, DC. Although they call themselves “pro-life”, these are people who are essentially anti-abortion, and each January protest the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the early 1970’s.
Anti-abortion advocates have proudly talked about the March for Life on social media. They also talked a great deal about the anti-abortion advocates who participated in the Women’s March in Washington that occurred a week earlier.
Funny, though, that few, if any, of the anti-abortion individuals have condemned the U.S. President’s EO banning refugees from the most (currently) critically dangerous parts of the world.
Oh, their institutions like the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops have condemned the EO. But there’s no fervent objection to it – at least that I’ve seen, and I’m somewhat active on social media – from the actual people.
Just. Radio. Silence.
Whatsoever you do for the least of my brethren, that you do unto me.
Actually, I do need to make one correction. I do know of one individual who’s outspoken in his support for refugees and condemnation of abortion: Pope Francis. You know, the person Trump called “disgraceful” in February, 2016.
Donald Trump, for his previous support for abortion, infidelity, three marriages, unbridled greed, unbridled lust, absolute lack of charity and general raunchiness, enjoyed overwhelming support from evangelical voters.
And in this, one of his most uncharitable, odious and certainly least Christian acts in his still infantile (HA!) presidency, attracts no criticism from the anti-abortion foot soldiers.
Could it be because he promised during his campaign to appoint a Supreme Court justice who will see that Roe is overturned? In the fervor to see Roe meet a similar fate as, say, Dred Scott, would the anti-abortion proponents sacrifice other human beings?
You know, for the most part, the larger so-called “pro-life” movement really grew out of a politicized move to coalesce evangelicals to consolidate the “religious right” and Moral Majority – except for the Catholic Church, which has, regardless of whether you agree, been admirably consistent in its belief that abortion was wrong (the oldest anti-abortion organization, Right to Life, was founded by a Catholic doctor several years before the Roe decision).
In fact, just before the Roe decision came down, the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution that encouraged “Southern Baptists to work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of severe fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother.”*
The Southern Baptists then reaffirmed that position in 1974 after Roe. And again in 1976.
But I digress.
The point here is that, fresh from a “March for Life”, those who would tell you that they support “life” actually have a narrow definition of what that means. I’ll allow that some of the foot soldiers in the fight against abortion, other than Pope Francis, may have spoken against Trump’s EO, but they’ve been damn muffled about it.
The people who participated in the “March for Life” are anti-abortion, and that is certainly their right, and it is to be respected. But make no mistake: They are strictly and solely anti-abortion.
They can’t co-opt the claim that they are “pro-life”. Not any longer. This country has already turned away one Anne Frank and many, many of her peers. By their very silence on this EO – this EO that prohibits those fleeing death from entering this wealthy country, this haven – these folks demonstrably would be perfectly fine with having that happen again.
After all, their definition of “pro-life” is that it is only for the unborn.
*Politico, “The Real Origins of the Religious Right”; May 27, 2014 (http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/05/religious-right-real-origins-107133)