America: Land of immigrants, home of hypocrites

By NIARA SAVAGE | Nashville Voice

“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!”

These are the words that have beckoned immigrants from around the globe, across hundreds of miles of ocean, to American shores for over a century. Families, children, men, women, Whites, and Blacks — human beings of all ethnicities flocked to this nation fleeing persecution and seeking opportunities under the promise of a better life.

America — indeed the land of immigrants — has prided itself in its diversity, and graciously accepted well-meaning comparisons of its heterogeneous population to salad bowls and melting pots for decades.

But this year, a group of immigrants, still human beings of all kinds, still fleeing persecution and seeking opportunities under the promise of a better life, have been dehumanized by the word “caravan,” locked in cages, sprayed with tear gas, and separated from their families.

Most ironically, this same nation deems itself to be not only a nation of immigrants but a nation under God. Even our coins proclaim our trust in a Higher Power.

In fact, it is around this time of year, as the Christmas season approaches, that Bible-belt Americans, with their Southern values and religious traditions, turn a blind eye to such injustices as they prepare to celebrate the birth of their Savior.

Stories of people migrating out of necessity, and seeking asylum to protect their families are thousands of years old. According to historical records, one Middle Eastern family expecting the birth of their first child, fled their home and sought refuge in Egypt after learning of the king’s plan to exterminate male children under age two.

After being denied proper lodging, the young mother was forced to birth the child outside among animals. Fortunately, the newborn son of the young migrant couple was safely delivered….in a manger. We call Him Jesus. Jesus was, by definition, a refugee.

The fact that children in churches across America reenact this story every year, yet their parents are unable, or unwilling to acknowledge the parallels between parents seeking to protect their children thousands of years ago, and parents seeking to protect their children in 2018, highlights the foul hypocrisy of a dominant American worldview.

This worldview is defined by the idea that immigrants from some places are to be welcomed with open arms, while immigrants from other places are to be forced out and violently rejected.

In essence, this concept has been summed up by ‘45’ numerous times: We need more immigrants from Norway and fewer from African and Latin American “sh*thole” countries.

Before Americans can even begin to welcome immigrants as they arrive in huddled masses, we must learn a lesson from the Bible’s depiction of the birth of Christ, and look at a person who is tired, and poor, and tempest-tossed, and still see a human being.

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