Thursday, November 26, 2015

Two Thanksgiving Videos: Brothers and Sisters Under the Skin, and Our Chance to Atone for the Holocaust

And two more Thanksgiving videos for you this morning (with greetings and a statement of appreciation for readers outside the U.S., who aren't celebrating this American national holiday): the video at the head of the posting, featuring Appalachian singer Sam Gleaves reminding us that we're brothers and sisters under the skin despite our incidental differences, was recommended to me by my friend and theologian colleage Michael J. Iafrate.* 

Michael has been significantly involved with the Catholic Committee of Appalachia. He tells me that the new people's pastoral about to be released by this committee — written by lay Catholics and not by bishops — will include many voices of openly gay and lesbian Catholics. I find hope in this development. And I give thanks for it.

The second video I want to share is from World Jewish Relief's Refugee Crisis Appeal by way of Osvaldo Enrique at YouTube:

It’s asking a lot for Europe to absorb so many new people all at once. (As this column went to press, Sweden announced that it could no longer cope, and would tighten border controls and asylum rules; Vice-Premier Asa Romson was reportedly close to tears as she announced the change in policy.) The United States, with our rich history of immigration, and our enormous territory, should be putting out the biggest welcome mat. Instead, we get a torrent of racist hate from Republican politicians, of whom Trump is merely the loudest. Obama has spoken wisely, but has agreed to offer only 10,000 Syrian refugees legal status this year. We can do better—since 2012, we’ve admitted only 1,854. 
There’s a poll going around social media showing that in 1939, 61 percent of Americans opposed admitting 10,000 refugee children, most of them Jewish, into the country. Who doubts today that we should have opened our doors to the soon-to-be-murdered Jews of Europe? History is giving not just Europe but the United States another chance. This time, let’s do the right thing.

The U.S. is a nation of immigrants. Our Thanksgiving myth celebrates the merciful hospitality offered to the immigrant settlers by the native peoples, whom we Europeans then decimated or moved to reservations. A nation with such a foundational myth needs to find mercy enough to stop treating new groups of immigrants like human garbage.

*I like this version of "Ain't We Brothers" because it opens with Sam Gleaves explaining the backstory to his song. If the background noise is annoying, here's another YouTube clip of the same song with less background noise.

No comments: