On Christmas Day, US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, tweeted that Jesus was a refugee,( which he indeed he was, technically and temporarily) according to the Christmas story compiled in the Gospels. Yet the backlash she received from the conservative Christian community for daring to suggest that God cares for those (in this case POC) escaping poverty, violence, and persecution (refugees) would have put the most heartless heathen to shame.
Apparently in an effort to not appear liberal (read humane) the conservatives, led by conservative Christians, have bent over backward to make it appear that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez tweet is inaccurate, misguided, or a socialist misinterpretation. It is more likely that the outraged want to disavow the idea of Jesus as refugee, because they want to be comfortable in their indifference to suffering humanity, by pretending that artificial lines/borders justify their callousness, or that they can hide behind the fiction that some human beings are illegal.
It begs the question: would these folks who claim to love Jesus let him and his family into their country?
Judging from the social media outrage and their thinly veiled disdain for humans not White and North American, it appears the Christ child would not have stood a chance, if the story were played out on the US border they would have refused refuge or asylum for Jesus and his family. Jesus would have been sent back to face certain death at the hands of King Herod, who according to the Christmas tale, ordered the murder of all children under two years old in Bethlehem and its vicinity.
It is difficult to recall another time when people so freely displayed their hatefulness, ignorance and callousness with such pride.
Ironically, many of the folks arguing this point are those who claim to treasure the literal reading of the scriptures. Yet they have taken issue with the Congresswoman and theologians who agree with her despite the scripture in Matthew chapter two verse 13, which literally reads, “After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
An assortment of conservative Bible illiterates tried denouncing Ocasio-Cortez. Micheal Knowles in a article in the dailywire.com argues that Egypt was a Roman province and thus the family of the Jesus story were not refugees. But that fact would not distort the truth, or the fact that the scriptures record them running for their lives to avoid political persecution (death), technically making them refugees. In fact the etymology of the word refugee includes the idea of fleeing [persecution].
A refugee according to the dictionary’s definition is, “a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.”
Mary and her family escaping to Africa made them refugees in the same way Blacks ran north to escape Southern slavery and later migrated to the North to escape Jim Crow segregation. While the North and South were provinces of the United States, the North served as refuge from the worst of racial oppression in the country.
Yet another would- be scholar suggested that “the analogy falls flat on his face because of Herod’s decree – if the Honduran govt threatens to murder all infants, you’d have something closer to an argument.” But the analogy is right on, because despite the fact that the US population is blissfully unaware that the nexus of the poverty and oppressive conditions the caravan is escaping, has been exacerbated by US interference in Central America’s affairs. Persecution is persecution.
One clueless cretin tweeted at Ocasio-Cortez, “You had to politicize Christmas too.”
Christmas is political that is the point of leaving the rich the influential and the powerful Romans (Americans) out of the story. It’s a story in history which prioritizes poor folks it’s a poor folks story a poor oppressed folks story.
The story of the Holy Family is indeed political, as it turns convention upside down. According to the scriptures God choose a son from among: the colonized rather than the colonizer, the powerless rather than the powerful, the poor rather than the rich, the workers rather than the bosses, the peasants rather than the lords, the minority rather than the majority , the Jew rather than the Roman, the ghetto rather than the suburb, yes the refugee rather than their haters. And God chose a woman, a poor woman to deliver the good news.
The callous twitter response from Bible reading twitter was downright scary, as the hostility toward folks escaping persecution, poverty and violence practically leaped off the page. It is almost unimaginable that people,( many claiming to be “born again” )would go to such extremes to miss the point of Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet, which was, God loves everyone especially those down on their luck.
But maybe that is what they are really pushing back against. Everyone knows that God only loves people of European descent, and that the “settlers” of North America were the New Jerusalem, the New Israel who were given this land of Canaan by god, thus justifying the genocide of the native population and the resulting land grab along with the accompanying enslavement of much of Africa to work that which had been stolen.
And we get it, this is their land, “from California to the New York island, from the Redwood Forest, to the gulf stream waters,….”
Incidentally, Pope Francis disagrees with them. He has cited on several occasions Jesus status as a refugee and the importance of providing refuge and asylum to those suffering that fate. And a few years ago, conservative evangelical leader Franklin Graham wrote in Christianity Today that Jesus was a refugee.
The terribly misguided amateur debaters of social media did everything but stand on their heads to deny the truth of what the Congresswoman was saying. Some debated when Jesus and his family were refugees, others pretended the scriptures didn’t say that, still others said ‘well Mary didn’t ask for asylum,’ so it’s different. Some said the family registered for the census making them legal residents, as if that had any bearing on her point.
What explains this national chuckleheadedness?
Why the unmitigated, uncontrolled, almost irrational anger at the mere suggestion that immigrants, so- called illegal aliens, refugees just might be, at bottom human beings? Their anger likely stems from the mere suggestion that they ought to show empathy to the colored (read POC) refugees since Jesus was one. Yes Jesus may not have survived long enough to get to the cross had he been left at the US’s door step.
Ocasio-Cortez is right, the folks in the caravan sleeping in tents outside the US border,the people in the country illegally the people we refer to as illegal aliens are people and we should see them as such and treat them accordingly, and Christians should too!
justice then peace
In tribute to Sonja Denise Roberts