Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “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-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
– The New Colossus, Emma Lazarus, 1883
Engraved on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty
Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…
Well, give me your tired and poor yearning to be free just so long as they’re from Ireland or Scotland or Germany. The Netherlands? Italy? We’ll take them. England’s okay too. Maybe Poland and Greece. Even the stinky French. Why, we’ll even take the Russians. Sure what the heck, welcome to America! Come on in.
Brown Spanish speaking children from where now? Central America? Whoa, not so fast.
Hey, there’s a reason why the Statue of Liberty holds her lamp above New York Harbor and not the Texas border. Just saying.
Because that’s America right? That’s who we are, a bunch of fat old white Christians with signs and bibles screaming hatred at a busload of brown children.
Yeah, fuck you, huddled masses yearning to breathe free! Back on the bus!
America is for Americans and there isn’t enough for you. Get back on the bus!
No, there isn’t enough for you. No.
We’re a country that has so much goddamned food we have TV shows about it. We have food festivals. We have entire cable channels dedicated to food, just pictures and pictures of food, of people eating food, of animals eating food. Every kind of food. Burgers so big it takes a football team to eat one. Contests where Joey Chesnut eats sixty-nine hotdogs, sixty fucking nine hotdogs in one sitting. Sixty nine hotdogs, that’s more fat and protein and calories than any dozen kids in the slums around Panama City see in a week. Guy Fieri drives from restaurant to restaurant and he wipes more food off his fat bling covered face than half the world eats in a day. The average American family scrapes more food into the garbage each month than most of the poor south of our border see in a year. We have so much cheap food in America, that our poor people are suffering from an “Epidemic of Obesity.”
But we can’t spare a sandwich for a busload of poor brown children. Fuck ‘em! Back on the bus!
We’re a country where preachers are millionaires. Religion has its own TV shows and theme parks. We don’t just have churches in America, we have giant Mega-churches, temples of glory made from gold and crystal and thousand dollar bills! We live in a country where Joel Osteen’s weekly collection plate take averages half a million dollars in cash. We live in a country where religion rakes in tax free billions and buys itself the court and the election and looks out of our TVs every week complaining about persecution. Persecution. We live in a country of divine exceptionalism where, according to outspoken religious leaders, our borders were drawn by no less than God himself. Oh yes, those children on our southern border are violating God’s very law, according to America’s bestest Christians:
What we learn from the Bible is that borders are God’s idea, and that such borders are to be respected. They are not to be crossed without permission.
That was Bryan Fischer, in an article for Barbwire. He doesn’t say who you should get permission from, Jesus I guess, since they’re His borders and all. Texas mega-church pastor Robert Jeffress agrees, in an interview on Fox and Friends he said,
Yes, Jesus loved children, but he also respected law. He said, render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. So, we need to do both. Show compassion, but secure the borders.
Jesus respected the law? The same Jesus who got himself nailed to a cross for breaking secular law and the edicts of the local religious leaders? That Jesus? Is that the law abiding Jesus we’re talking about?
I ran a, albeit cursory, Google search, but I can’t seem to find where either of these men condemned those Christians who routinely cross borders without permission, carting boxes full of bibles and the Good Word in defiance of God’s law and a nation’s sovereignty – like those Americans held in North Korea for attempting to proselytize the communists. Or hey, how about the more than fifty charismatic evangelical churches who belong to MinistriesWithout Borders? I mean, the sin is right there in the name, isn’t it? But, I guess that’s different, when you’re breaking God’s law for Jesus.
Funny thing, I’d be willing to bet whatever sum of money you like, that the vast majority of those kids crowding our southern border are Christians, come from overwhelmingly Christian nations. But, hey, God’s law, right?
You know, it’s damned convenient how God hates all the same people Bryan Fisher does, isn’t it?
Despite their piety and their tearful respect for Jesus’ compassion and their billions in tax-free genuine US dollars, American Christians can’t spare a dime or a bed or a fucking sandwich for a busload of brown children who are coming from real actual persecution and exploitation and degradation and poverty and horror upon horror.
No, Jesus says fuck ‘em. Get your little brown ass back on the bus, Pendejo!
We’re a nation where half our population decries abortion and birth control. We cry crocodile tears for all the little babies and their oh so precious right to life. But real, live, breathing children? Fuck ‘em! Back on the bus, America has no room for you!
Ah, but of course it’s all Obama’s fault, right?
We wouldn’t be in this pickle if it wasn’t for Barack Obama and his evil plan to brownify America.
Oh we never had to secure the borders before Obama, by God! He invited them here, these dirty diseased little parasites, didn’t he?
And now it’s all come undone, yes it has.
This, my shiny electronic friends, this is Obama’s Katrina.
That’s what they’re saying right? Obama’s Katrina moment. Oh sure, conservatives have called the BP Oil Spill Obama’s Katrina. And the Fort Hood Shootings. And the NSA leaks. And the Swine Flu outbreak. And the AIG bonus scandal. And the slow economic recovery and the unemployment rate and housing, those were all Obama’s Katrina. There was Hurricane Sandy. There was even a propane shortage in the Midwest that invoked momentary speculation about Obama’s Katrina moment. And, of course, there was the Affordable Healthcare Act. And Syria, Haiti, and Benghazi. All Obama’s supposed Katrina.
Why, there was even speculation that Obama’s “Mom Jeans” were going to be his Katrina.
But this, this, at last is Obama’s Katrina.
Those brown children massing on the border? This is finally it for real, man!
That’s what Texas Governor Rick Perry says,
“As I recall President Bush got chastised greatly for not showing up in New Orleans when Katrina occurred.”
Bush had a Katrina, and the partisan scales must be balanced. Conservatives won’t stop until they get equality – Obama must have a true Katrina. And, boy oh boy, this time, this time, they just might have a valid comparison.
A bunch of poor brown people caught in the middle of a humanitarian disaster? Pretend like it’s not our problem. A deadlocked government, too caught up in their own partisan bullshit to take decisive action? Deny the victims food and shelter and medical care and adequate sanitation. Build a wall around them … and shoot any that try to get out?
That’s what Militia Jesus would do, right? Fuck ‘em, get back on the bus!
Well, maybe Governor Perry is right, because it sure sounds like Katrina to me.
And it’s all Obama’s fault. It’s Obama’s fault that we’ve been propping up and toppling corrupt Central American governments and their various revolutions and insurgencies since Teddy Roosevelt decided to build a canal across Colombia.
And sure, it was Obama who funneled more illicit money than the gross domestic product of entire nations into Central and South America to satiate America’s bottomless lust for cocaine and black tar heroin and weed – oblivious to the bloody violence and the horrifying oppression that results.
It was Obama who ignored the poverty and the disease and the corruption and the exploitation that grows day by day south of our borders – horror so great that children are willing to risk all, willing to risk rape and murder and enslavement and death in the boiling desert, willing to risk the wrath of “Patriots” with their signs and their guns and their Duck Dynasty hats and their well fed bellies spilling over their camouflaged belts, just for a chance – no matter how slim – at America.
Because that’s how it is, you know. I’ve been there, Central America, South America, and I’m not just talking about the spotless tourist beaches in Cabo and Mazatlan and the Disney adventure tours in San Jose where cruise liners the size of Las Vegas hotels arrive to unleash a flood of well heeled gringos come for cheap entertainment and cheap prescription drugs and cheap sex. Where the locals look on in well concealed envy and play their dimwitted roles for a few American dollars, si, Senor! Muchos gracias, Senora! No, I’m talking about the other places too, places in Ecuador and Guatemala and El Salvador and Mexico and Panama and Colombia where it’s so goddamned desperate that people are willing to risk everything, even the lives of their children, for a chance at something better. It’s so bad that no matter how many barriers we put up, no matter how high the wall or wide the moat, no matter the guns and the barbed wire and the dogs and the confinement centers and the militia, no matter the corpulent Americans waving their signs and screaming hate in purple faced rage, it is stillorders of magnitude better than where they came from.
No matter how many times you send them back, they’ll keep on coming.
Because that’s what America is to them, the golden door.
They are the tired and the poor.
They are the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
They are the wretched refuse of distant teeming shores.
They are the homeless and tempest tossed.
This isn’t an immigration crisis, it’s a humanitarian crisis.
And there is nothing you can do to stop them, short of genocide, short of killing them all. Short of making America into a land so terrible, so horrible, so repulsive, that even those utterly without hope wouldn’t want to come here.
Or, we could do it another way.
They’re calling this Obama’s Katrina, but Hurricane Katrina didn’t have to play out the way it did. We can learn from our mistakes. We could have rallied as a nation, we Americans, we have it within us to be magnificent, but in our petty selfishness we have lost our union and the sense that we are greater together than apart. All of us.
Hate and fear and rage and selfishness do not have to carry the day.
We do not have to became a fortress nation self-imprisoned behind minefields and barbed wire and machine guns.
We can be the America of that promise.
We can be a welcome shore and a beacon of liberty and freedom and hope for all.
Despite the protests of a selfish few, we are America, and we have more than enough resources, far more than we ourselves need – our garbage, the food we throw away, would feed millions! We can welcome these children, we can give them refuge, we can feed them and heal them and educate them and give them a future. We can give them hope. And, perhaps, send them back one day with our willing help to remake their own homelands into something better, something equal to the United States, into beacons of liberty and freedom and prosperity in their own right and we can put an end once and for all to the actual causes of illegal immigration and the actual things that caused this humanitarian crisis.
If we truly are the people we claim to be, we would build a new Colossus, a new Statue ofLiberty, a hundred times the size of the one in New York’s harbor.
And we’d stand it on our southern border with her lamp held high enough for all to see.
And she would be the very symbol of America, her flame the imprisoned lightning, and her name would be Mother of Exiles.
And from her beacon-hand would glow the world wide message:
Because that, that right there, is the promise of America.
Photo: Library of Congress via History.com.