By this point I am fairly certain that most if not all of the Donald Trump supporters have long since left the room, so I feel fairly safe in saying what I am about to say.
Now I generally do not talk about politics. Everyone’s Entitled to Joe’s Opinion is not a political blog, and I have no intention of making it thus. I do not have the taste for it, and I feel that there is little to nothing to be gained by it. Political subjects are excruciatingly contentious and political convictions are very deeply held; thus nothing can be accomplished by talking about politics save to convince the already convinced. Although there is the possibility that some of you out there are sitting on the fence and open to being convinced by a reasonable argument.
Yet there are occasions when the need to talk about politics is inescapable. These seem to be recurring with alarmingly increasing frequency in the present political climate. Indeed there are times when silence on an issue is complicity with the worst among us. So talk about politics we will, when I feel it is necessary.
ICYMI: There was a government shutdown last weekend. This was triggered–in part, at least–by inflammatory and racist remarks from our current president during an important meeting with high-ranking legislators. Specifically, he referred to certain regions of the world as “shithole countries”.
So where to begin here? I think it best to begin with the obvious. The statement that we need more Norwegian immigrants and fewer from “shithole countries” is racist. That’s all there is to it.
Some defenders of Donald Trump might argue that the above statement is not racist–it is just a way, albeit a crude one, of arguing that we need a more skilled immigrant pool. It isn’t. That argument goes like this: “We need a more skilled immigrant pool.”
But is that really what Donald Trump said? At first he owned it but later he attempted to backpedal, saying via Twitter that his comment was “tough, but this [the profanity] was not the language used”. His supporters went on the offensive forthwith. They heaped all manner of reproach upon Dick Durbin, a Democratic senator who was in attendance at the meeting in question and who first reported Donald Trump’s comments, impugning his integrity in no uncertain terms. “Dicky Durbin,” they called him. “Never trust a Democrat,” they said. “All they do is lie, cheat, and steal.”
Yet this much is undeniable: Whatever Donald Trump said, profanity or no profanity, it was so harsh that it was found shocking by all who were in the room. And at no point has Donald Trump denied the underlying sentiment.
This is not without precedent. While on the campaign trail Donald Trump said of undocumented Mexican immigrants: “They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people.” He has routinely stoked the long-debunked conspiracy theory that Obama is of Kenyan citizenship. He claimed that the “Central Park Five” were guilty despite DNA evidence which clearly indicated no such thing. He attempted to implement an unconstitutional “Muslim ban”. He equivocated on the Charlottesville protests/murders, saying that there was violence “on many sides”. Given this prior record, Donald Trump has long since forfeited the benefit of any possible doubt.
Yet the issue here is not whether or not Donald Trump uttered a profanity in that meeting. It is much deeper than that. Our president believes that certain people are disqualified from immigrating to the United States by virtue of the living conditions in their country of origin.
There is no way in hell to square this with our deepest and most cherished ideals of who we are as America. For immigrants who come here, it isn’t about healthcare or economic benefits or social services or whatever. Well, there may be some who look at it in terms of all the great social services/healthcare/welfare programs that we have here and how can they get in here and mooch off of all that. I don’t know. But for the vast majority, I would be willing to bet that it is about the freedoms we all take for granted, freedom to speak, work, worship, and advance, and the possibility of a better life, if not for themselves, then for their children or their children’s children–all things they could never in a million years hope to attain in their countries of origin. Our highest ideal of who we are as a nation is a place where all can come and better themselves, become whatever they are capable of becoming, and we are all the better for it.
Furthermore, there is no way to square this with who we are as Christians and as evangelicals. The countries which Donald Trump disparages as “shithole countries” are places where evangelical Christianity is burgeoning. In many parts of Africa, growth of evangelical Christian communities is off the charts. Africa is on track to become the largest evangelical continent. In other words, many of the people living in those “shithole countries” are our fellow evangelicals. Evangelical Trump supporters: That is worthy of pondering. Will you sit back and let our president disparage your fellow evangelicals because they come from places with less than desirable living conditions?
But it’s bigger than that. As Christians, we believe that all people are created in the image of God, and that all people are people for whom Christ died. Regardless of the living conditions in their country of origin.
If you are an evangelical, ask yourself: How do I square these things with Donald Trump’s belief that certain people are disqualified from immigrating to the United States by virtue of the living conditions in their country of origin?
And now I will answer you: You don’t.
Think about this through the lens of “What does love require of me?”. If you can make a compelling case that what love requires of you is to support a president who besmirches your brothers and sisters in Christ because of the living conditions in their countries of origin…no. There is no such case to be made.
Am I advocating open borders or an unrestricted immigration policy? No. Much of the Democratic rhetoric on immigration is just not consistent with present-day economic reality. In prior generations, when our economy was largely industrial, anyone from any part of the world could come and plug right in to our industrial economic machine and make a decent living for themselves. But that picture has changed and we need an immigration policy which takes that into account. And yes, we do need a more skilled immigrant pool.
But it is inexcusable to speak of certain parts of the world with less than desirable living conditions as “shithole countries”, or to support and/or defend a president who does so. All people, including those who come from such countries, are made in the image of God and are people for whom Christ died. As such, they deserve better than that from our president, and they deserve better than that from us.