Monday, April 2, 2018

POTUS Headed to Church on Easter Day: "NEED WALL!" — Deep Shame of White American Christianity As Hatred of Immigrants Normalized

In my mind as I watched the hate directed towards immigrants pour out on Easter day, from the man in the White House as he walked to church, down to his followers, many of them using bible verses to prop up their hate:

Steve and I spent Holy Week with cherished friends who are immigrants from the Philippines. I don't want to "use" friends to make a moral or political point. My friends are friends, not objects to be used in those games.

But I have to say, my friendship with people who have come to the U.S. from other countries — in the case of one of these friends, because he would have been killed by the Marcos regime if he hadn't escaped the Philippines — is a gift to me, to help me see a tiny bit through their eyes what their experience in the U.S. sometimes is.

These two friends are the very best of human beings. They have worked very hard to make comfortable lives for themselves and their children in the U.S. — starting with almost no economic resources. They have been willing to do the most menial labor, hard work that eventually gave them some security. They are skilled, artistic, educated people, in the case of the husband of this couple, people with a doctoral degree. Their contributions to this country go beyond hard manual labor.

They have contributed and contribute in manifold ways to this country. This nation — and my life — are far better due to their gifts. They are among the most generous people I know. Steve and I try to give back to them, a tiny bit, and it's a losing proposition: give them something small, and a bigger gift comes along.

These friends visited us in Little Rock about two decades ago. At that time, they drove to see us in a van that had one of their mothers, their two children, and themselves. When they arrived in Little Rock, they told us that a truck driven by a yahoo with several other yahoos in the Arkansas Delta tailed them on the highway from Lake Village to Pine Bluff, riding right on their bumper and then eventually passing them and screaming insults.

Because they are brown-skinned people from the Pacific region, and the yahoos driving this truck could see this . . . . I felt tremendous shame for my state and anger on their behalf when they told me this had been done to them. The fear of people who have to worry about something like this happening out of the blue — having their small children subjected to this: we need to think about this.

On this occasion, we went to Crystal Bridges museum in northwest Arkansas, enjoyed the excellent special exhibit Soul of a Nation that is now on display there, the museum, and a lunch in the museum restaurant. We then went to the gift shop. From the time we entered, I saw the hostility directed against my friends — in terms of body language — by one of the two women staffing the main desk in that gift shop.

I said nothing, though perhaps I should have, but I saw. One of the friends decided to buy a beautiful artist-crafted necklace and earrings. She had, fortunately, gotten the other woman at the main desk to assist her; that woman was very nice.

But as she looked at these items and paid for them, the other woman stood by glaring in haughty silence, communicating by her stare her suspicion that people who, to her mind "aren't Americans" would have money to buy something that, I suppose, she imagines should be reserved only for rich white people.

As we left the gift shop, I turned around and gave that woman one last stare back. She was STILL GLARING at us as I turned around, still staring, still exuding hostility and judgment.

My friends — who are the best people in the world and have given in manifold ways to this nation to make it better — live with this ALL THE TIME. We now have iPhones and cameras to capture some of the s—t heaped on darker-skinned people in Walmart parking lots and all sorts of stores around this country, the taunts to go back where they belong, the accusations that they are illegal immigrants.
That's a good thing. More of us can, if we choose, learn to understand what immigrants live with on a daily basis in this country, in this way.

And do not deceive yourself: it's getting worse. It's getting worse due to the moral monstrosity in the White House. He turned Easter into a torrent of hateful abuse of immigrants, egging this on among many Americans including — and this should shame anyone who claims to be Christian — many American Christians.

We need to see, to be aware. We need to fight back — very hard.

No comments: