Of “Illegal Immigrant Children” And Millstone Necklaces

Let’s play a little game. I’ll provide you with three headlines and you tell me which one is from Fox “News.” Okay? Here we go:

1) Showdown: California town turns away buses of detained immigrants

2) Protesters Block Bus Carrying Immigrants

3) Protests turn back buses carrying illegal immigrant children

I know, I know. That was too easy. That last one, with its purposeful use of “illegal,” tells you all you need to know. And if, like me, you are wondering just how children can be illegal, I’ll get to that in a minute. For now, though, I will note that the obvious Fox headline appeared below an “Illegal Immigrants” header that linked to other stories on Fox, including: “Sheriff Arpaio calls for military action in border crisis.” Damn! I guess the hate-filled sheriff wants to send our troops into Mexico and threaten the kids before they get here! Then we wouldn’t have to worry about all those messy immigration laws! Genius!

In any case, one of the headlines I used was from NBC Los Angeles (“Protesters Block Bus Carrying Immigrants”) and if you bother to read some of the hundreds of comments on that story, you will be amazed at how much support the protesters in Murrieta, California, have. And by support I mean rabid support. It is hard to believe, when one reads through the comments, that the anger expressed is essentially directed toward children. Excuse me. “Illegal” children. As an example, I have selected a comment from “Lola Guin” (an “alternate profile” on Facebook from, uh, Massachusetts), who, as a “Top Commenter,” wrote:

...more of us need to be taking a stand like these good patriots. And to the illegal invader who is quoted in the article, due process only applies to citizens of this country. Illegals are not entitled to such things. When you break the law and invade another person’s country, you’re not afforded privileges like due process. Go back to your own country and make it better. Stop trying to mooch off the hard work of Americans. America is not the birthright of everyone on the planet. Our ancestors worked hard to make this country great. You can’t just show up after America becomes the most successful nation on the planet and expect to reap the rewards without putting in the work. You are NOT entitled to our tax money. Go home and do something with your own nations and get the heck out of ours. We’re all full up here, we can’t even support our own people because we’ve let too many of you leeches in. Trust me, illegal scum. You’re NOT wanted or needed here. Go away.

I remind you that was said to and about mostly kids, “illegal scum” and everything. The comment, so far, received 222 “likes.” Yikes.

I would bet ten-thousand Romney dollars that whoever Lola Guin is that he or she is some kind of Christian. Same with many of the other people whose comments were hateful, bigoted, racist, or some combination. One such commenter to that NBC Los Angeles story happens to be a local woman, a local right-wing woman who often comments on Joplin Globe stories, named Mary Schillaci. A man named Jeff Wagner had the gall to write into the string of vitriolic commentary and say to someone,

I hope you don’t pretend to be a Christian. You make me sick to my stomach.

Our local right-winger from Carl Junction wrote back a shoutin’:

Jeff Wagner How about “God helps those who help themselves.” Fair enough? Their countries need to help their own people and we will help ours with OUR TAX DOLLARS. Americans first!

I think she got that “Americans first!” sentiment from the GOP Annotated Bible, although I can’t be sure. But I am sure that in the real, non-GOP Bible the quote she offered—“God helps those who help themselves”—isn’t in there. If it were, then Christianity itself is a joke because its central claim is that Jesus helped us and saved us precisely because we couldn’t help and save ourselves. So it would be more accurate, by Christian standards, to say that, “God helps those who can’t help themselves.” But I digress.

Judging from her Facebook page, Mary Schillaci has some interest in God. Earlier this year she posted the following:

mary schillaci on facebook

Now, in this present humanitarian crisis, that might be a good message to send to those children coming here from Central America, since it appears many of them are down to nothing. And it is likely that many of those children think that what God is up to is making a place for them here in Christian America.

Fat chance.

Commenting on that NBC Los Angeles story, Rich McKeever (his real name), who is another “Top Commenter,” wrote:

This is what needs to happen. It seems we must take a page from the leftist playbook and take to the streets. It worked at the Bundy ranch, it worked here and it will work elsewhere if we can turn out the overwhelming numbers of people we need to become, as they say, too big to fail.

The idea, thanks to Cliven Bundy and his right-wing promoters, is that if enough folks carrying guns get together and are willing to use those guns against the government, then, by God, those children coming up from Central America won’t have a fightin’ chance! And I say “by God” in this case because, as it happens, Rich McKeever says on his Facebook page that he likes “Being Christian,” which is another Facebook page “where you can learn how to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, read daily devotionals, and be inspired.” 

Rich also says he likes a group called “Jesus Loves You,” which claims,

We’re giving away the love of Jesus Christ. 

Apparently when they were giving away the love of Christ, Rich was in a different line. Perhaps he was in line waiting to buy up all the ammo before Obama could get his hands on it, I don’t know. But we can see that Rich at least aspires to be a follower of Jesus. And just for him—no, for all those like him who want to simultaneously follow Jesus while being mean to desperate children from Central America—I have another news story for you about children, this time from a 1st-century journalist named Matthew, who was doing a write-up on Jesus:

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Whoops! But he’s not finished:

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Uh-oh. “Illegal immigrant children,” anyone? “Illegal scum”? “God helps those who help themselves?” “Americans first!”? If I were those folks, I’d get to work on learning to swim while sporting a giant millstone necklace. And should they fail to figure out how to make that work, when they hit the ocean floor it might comfort them to know:

When you are down to nothing, God is up to something.




  1. A Haiku:

    Sunday Christians hate
    Jesus spurned, children returned
    Hypocrite nation

    Liked by 2 people

  2. kabe

     /  July 5, 2014

    Americans first? Think about that one for a minute. Conservatives absolutely do not want to help anyone in America that are struggling. Min wage, unemployment, food stamps. America first indeed!



    • Some on the right don’t necessarily think those who need help are “true” Americans, which explains the contradiction.


  3. ansonburlingame

     /  July 5, 2014


    I am frankly confused in that I do not have any idea what you SUSPPORT in terms of dealing with illegal immigration, specfically across the Mexican border. Start with adults, anyone at or over the age of 18. Should we try, hard to stop the flow of such people across our southern border? Or should we just open the border and let’m all come in, visas, or not, etc.

    I assume you believe we should stop some of them, but which ones. How do you classify them if you don’t stop and detain them?

    Then for detention. Who should pay for it, what should the budget become, who should guard those facilities, how long should adults have to sit there until ….., etc.? Then what criteria exactly should be used to deport some or all of such detainees?

    Then take the kids, those under the age of 18. First how do you know how old they might be? Do you detain them, with adults or separately, how long, and what do you do with all of them after they have been locked up for while? How many of those kids should be deported?

    You spent considerable time in this blog suggesting what Christ would do in this situation. Do you have a solid answer to that quest, Christ’s intentions regarding American policy toward immigration, or any other country, Christian or not in that regard? Or intstead would you leave Christ and his teachings out of political discussions regarding immigration law in America?

    Let me broaden that question. Obviously we are not a Christian nation. But should America in fact become a Christian nation, ruled by Biblical law or interpretations of Biblical law. And of course one cannot “cherry picK” the Bible in such a quest for understanding Biblical law, now can they. In fact which testament of the Bible should be use to construct American law to follow the will of God, before Christ or the new laws or teachings at least stated by Christ himself and provided only in the New Testament

    Finally, take Kabe’s lead/ Should we focus internally only to care for the poor and downtrodden or should we add to that burden by opening our borders, entirely to bring in the rest of the “world” instead. What would Christ suggest in both instances? Does God or Christ have some sense of priority for caring for the poor or instead simply the edict that all of the poor from wherever they come or might dwell should be cared for by Americans?

    It would seem to me that everyone should get away from religion in this instance and decide what is the RIGHT thing for the American government to do. That should be a political argument, not a religious one, at least in my view. Certainly America should be guided by solid moral principles, but do we have to go only to God or Christ to figure those out. And how does any government prioritize which moral principles should apply in this case, Americans first and then, or take care of all right now?

    As the primary liberal writer in local blogs, that I know of around here, what do you suggest American policy should be in terms of controlling immigration across our Mexican border, specifically and should it be any different from how we control other immigration into America for anywhere else? Leave Christ and the GOP out of it and let us all know what you think should be done.



    • Ben Field

       /  July 5, 2014

      The issue at point are the children fleeing Central America to our borders and crossing into our country. Yes, the Supreme Court has found that any person in our country is entitled to our rights with the exception to vote or own firearms. Yes, they deserve food, shelter, education, etc…If the GOP has a problem with this budgetary dilemma, then perhaps they could call on religion to step up and follow their tenets and contribute their 10% as well. The government has given them tax-free status to build megalithic monuments to a God that surely demands charity to children. Nobody has suggested a change to the system as it relates to adults, but these are children crossing nations to find there is no charity even in a country that boasts “Give me your tired, your poor you huddled masses”. As far as further securing the borders, perhaps we could use the National Guard instead of sending them halfway around the world to fight a war because the President’s daddy was threatened. It is disgusting to see these religious institutions ignore these children, any which of them is innocent and in danger. Taxpayers have new taxes shoved down their throats on a regular basis, only the GOP it seems has a problem with innocent children being the cause thereof. It is our responsibility to do right by them, until they can be sent home without it being a death sentence.


    • kabe

       /  July 5, 2014

      Hope you did not miss my sarcasm.



  4. ansonburlingame

     /  July 6, 2014

    Hard to get a straight answer herein, except from Ben it seems. Do I read you correctly, Ben, that if any person under the age of 18 shows up at our border we should immediately take them into America, feed them, cloth them, nurture them? In other words treat all kids differently from adults in terms of allowing them to enter our country?

    I see as well that you quoted scripture to make you political point. So again, are you really trying to make America a Christian nation, following the dictates of scripture in all cases. I know some pretty rabid right winders that would applaud such an approach to governing America!!! If you use scripture to endorse one political goal, far more open borders, then how can you justify not using other clear biblical edicts, like an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth?

    And Kabe, no I did not read you comment as sarcasm. I read it as your legitimate concern for lack of care for the poor and downtrodden in America and our inability or unwillingness, politically to care for all of them to some standards not yet achieved. Is that not your own political goal, better care for those with less than and taking to money to do so from those that have an excess (by what metric I wonder) of money?

    While it does not address, directly, immigration, Reich’s column in Sunday’s Globe certainly lays out a Dem strategy for 2016, far more care for the less than and taking a lot more money from ………, all to preserve the middle class, or so he says. In other words run a political campaign to make the case that the middle class in America are now part of those betrayed by the rich, right and therefore deserving of more from government!!! And yep government should get all the money needed from the rich, only, right?

    Forget religion, even morality to a degree, at least morality as expressed in religion. Spread the wealth around, equally, you and Duane and most herein seem to call for using the force of government to do so. I submit the world has seen many instances of attempts to use government power to achieve such goals. None have worked very well, at least compared to the American model of “freedom”, an individual achieves his own goals and government sits back to provide the basic protections needed to enhance such individual freedom.

    In Will’s column in the Sunday Globe, one none of you will like, he uses the term “gratuitous bullying” on the part of progressive government. I like that term and I suspect you all support it as well. But we like it for different reasons, for sure. I want to stop it and you want to expand it.



    • Ben Field

       /  July 6, 2014

      Read the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act signed into effect in 2008 by President Bush. The law is very clear that the children cannot be sent back. Department of Homeland Security says 80% of these children will be placed in homes with family or foster families and not be sent back to Central America, Yes, any person in this country, illegally or not is entitled to our rights save voting or owning weapons according to the SCOTUS. I quoted no scripture, I quoted the plaque on the Statue of Liberty. How you determine this to be scripture is beyond my comprehension. The “party of God” seems to be blissfully ignorant of the scripture in which they wrap themselves. Do you subvert the law signed into effect by your GOP President?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree with you here, Ben. Duane’s post is not, as Anson accuses, about opening America’s immigration gates to all the needy children in the world. That is a straw man argument that only he is raising. The issue is, as you say, the hypocrisy of professed Christians in protesting the processing of the children according to the law approved by president Bush.

        It should be well known by now that a majority of the Congress, including Republicans, recognize that immigration reform is needed, not only to stem the tide of undesirable immigrants but to encourage the inflow of laborers to work in the fields, processing plants, and other less-popular jobs. The only reason that hasn’t happened is that the GOP leadership has refused to bring it to a vote because of Tea Party activism.

        I am not surprised, Anson, that Reich’s column inspires your concern over “gratuitous bullying” by the government. I see the same thing in the chants, interviews and signs carried by the protesters in Murrieta. They are scared that “illegals” are coming in such an unstoppable flood that they will absorb “our” stuff and make us poor in the bargain. It is a specious argument. The United States has the most efficient and most automated agricultural industry in the world and it is well capable of dealing with more children while they are processed according to law. Nobody is going to starve here, it is all about perceived taxation. I understand that some 80% of the kids are expected to be placed with relatives who are already here legally.

        And speaking of taxation, “fairness” in that is purely subjective. The notion that financial moguls “earned” their millions and billions by the sweat of their brows is ridiculous. The creation of companies and jobs is indeed the result of hard work and management skill, but a great deal of wealth accumulation is also the result of financial manipulation under laws rigged to favor the wealthy. That’s where the fairness argument comes in and bullying has nothing to do with it. It ought to be a matter of compromise, something now virtually forbidden by the Tea Party. It will be a principal topic in the upcoming elections, as it should be.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. So, we are not near the turning point yet? The people who finance Fox News don’t really want a revolt, but the people they are targeting will eventually be bent that way. It seems that if Republicans don’t take the White House, the dogs will be loosed, and the rich who have benefited from right wing insanity will suddenly be in the position of having to sow what they reaped.


  6. ansonburlingame

     /  July 7, 2014

    For Ben and Jim, and lurkers,

    Duane responded, with clarity, to my question about what he, and thus you guys, support. It was a reasonable response and included concerns that I have, like HOW to secure our borders, our land and southern border, better. As well he calls for better court systems to handle immigration. I agree with all of that in some detail but still provide a more conservative approach. I WANT immigration reform, but such will never be achieved in America is all you do is call conservatives, even radical ones, names and call for a single party political power in America, God forbid!!!.

    Flooding the border with “kids”, Jim is no strawman argument as well. It is current reality. You say 80% are trying to return to family already here legally? Hmmm, now why do I doubt that figure. Fleeing ones homeland to find a better paying job is not cause for amesty, in my view. Political persecution is good cause for such however. So treat “Mexicans” just like a “Ukrainian” is my position and that would be “fair” in my view. But you need an apolitical system of courts to achieve that goal, now don’t you?

    I will now move to Duane’s latest blog and comments therein to probably continue the discussion of what to do “tomorrow”. What we have been doing is a failure, for sure and “you guys” will never get your program through a democratic Congress unless we have a one party system of government, at least in my view.



  7. It should be common courtesy to notify someone when you disparage them in a blog as you have done to me here. I would think you were above bullying a woman with cancer, leukemia to be precise, or ridiculing her faith in a power greater than herself. That Facebook post was made when my test results came back and they weren’t good. That post comforted me, something you perhaps don’t understand. Sad for you. Assumptions made about me are also incorrect. I do not believe in nor practice any organized religion. I just believe in God.

    Also, I believe in the Constitution and limited government, not a nanny state. So, that makes me a right-winger, like that’s a dirty word? As for “illegal” immigrant children, that is exactly what they are, here illegally. You may disagree with the words but it is a factual statement.

    Your comment, “Same with many of the other people whose comments were hateful, bigoted, racist, or some combination. One such commenter to that NBC Los Angeles story happens to be a local woman, a local right-wing woman who often comments on Joplin Globe stories, named Mary Schillaci.”, doesn’t relate to what I wrote. I do believe Americans have a duty to take care of Americans first and I believe God does help those who help themselves. How is any of that hateful, bigoted, racist or other? You don’t want to believe either of those things, that’s fine with me.

    I don’t want my tax dollars used (over $640 million since December) to take care of another country’s children here illegally. Why are we sending aid to their home countries too? Although I’m loathe to try and work out a solution with a bully, how about this? Every dime we spend to feed, clothe, educate, medically-treat, transport, etc., these illegal immigrants, children or adults, we reduce aid to their home countries by that amount, including those countries i.e. Mexico, that aid this migration through their countries. I could almost guarantee their home countries will fix the problem for us when THEIR bottom-line is affected.


    • King Beauregard

       /  September 6, 2014

      “I don’t want my tax dollars used (over $640 million since December) to take care of another country’s children here illegally.”

      Exodus 23:9: “You shall not oppress a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”

      You can be a conservative OR you can be a Christian. You cannot serve two masters, not when they’re giving you contradictory orders. Which of them do you choose again? (This is the part where you claim there’s no contradiction between what the Bible says and what your conservative leanings say. Good luck selling that to Jesus on Judgment Day; he’s heard ’em all.)


    • Mary,

      I will take the time (and around 2700 words!) to comprehensively respond to your comment because I think you deserve a thoughtful reply to the points you made above. More than that, though, I also offer this as a sort of handshake of good will, that you may or may not accept. But it is a gesture I nevertheless want to make at the start, knowing that, given the length of this response, what I say will probably only interest you and me and, alas, perhaps just me. I will begin by addressing, roughly in order, the points you made:

      1) I am genuinely sorry you have cancer and wish you all the best.

      2) I did not “disparage” you personally. I did, though, take issue with the comment you made to Jeff Wagner, who had criticized someone on the NBC story comment string by saying, “I hope you don’t pretend to be a Christian. You make me sick to my stomach.” You responded to him,

      How about “God helps those who help themselves.” Fair enough? Their countries need to help their own people and we will help ours with OUR TAX DOLLARS. Americans first!

      I pointed out that the quote you cited was not in the Bible (although many people think it is) and how that sentiment ran contrary to the “central claim” of Christianity, which essentially is “God helps those who can’t help themselves.” All of which struck me as bolstering Jeff Wagner’s case that at least some folks on that string discussing undocumented immigrants were “pretending” to be Christians.

      3.) Even if I had disparaged you personally, which, again, I didn’t, I wasn’t aware that it was “common courtesy to notify someone when you disparage them in a blog.” Now that I am aware of that rather strange but interesting cultural norm, I will be more careful in the future, but, as I have said, I did not disparage you, only your comment, so the “common courtesy” folkway wouldn’t have been applicable anyway.

      4.) This line is utterly unfair and I suspect you know it: “I would think you were above bullying a woman with cancer…” My first reaction, when I read that, was, “A woman with cancer shouldn’t wade into public forums without identifying herself as ‘a woman with cancer who shouldn’t be criticized for what they say.'” But my more thoughtful and relevant reaction was that I, of course, had no idea you had cancer. Had I known that, I can’t honestly say whether I would have included you in that blog post, but I can honestly say that in any case I would not have bullied you in any way. Here, I will provide the Wikipedia definition:

      Bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others.

      There was no force, no threat, no coercion on my part to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively (or otherwise) dominate you in the piece I wrote. Heck, I had no idea you would ever read the piece I wrote, much less hope that it served to bully you. Therefore, no bullying. So, your attempt to portray me as “bullying a woman with cancer” was grossly unfair. And I mean grossly unfair. Needless to say, I am, or at least hope I am and always will be, “above” such a thing. And to be honest, I would hope you were above resorting to such a tactic like accusing me of trying to threaten you or intimidate you, independent of the unfortunate fact you have cancer.

      Also, years ago when you were criticizing the people involved in the Briarbrook issue in Carl Junction, or more recently when you were criticizing people online (I will not go into the nature of some of those comments on both sides) during the whole Mark Rohr mess, were you in fact “bullying” those people? I bet you didn’t think you were. You probably thought you were merely expressing your opinion about what they were saying and doing. And further, if one of those men or women you were criticizing had cancer, would you appreciate it if they responded to you with, “I would think you were above bullying someone with cancer”? My guess is that you would, like me, find that charge utterly unfair.

      5.) I did not use your Facebook post (“When you are down to nothing God is up to something”) in what I considered a negative way. In fact, it was the other way around:

      Now, in this present humanitarian crisis, that might be a good message to send to those children coming here from Central America, since it appears many of them are down to nothing. And it is likely that many of those children think that what God is up to is making a place for them here in Christian America.

      6.) I did not say you “believe in or practice any organized religion.” What I said was,

      Judging from her Facebook page, Mary Schillaci has some interest in God.

      And judging by your response here (“I just believe in God.”), I was right. You do have at least some interest in God, at least enough to believe in him (or her). And, for the record, I think it is beyond awesome that you get some measure of comfort from believing in God, as well as comfort from the idea of, “When you are down to nothing, God is up to something.” All of us, no matter the hardships we might face, have to find comfort where we can.

      On this point, though, I do want to apologize to you for obliquely suggesting that you might be “some kind of Christian.” Feel free to confirm or deny that you believe in Jesus as your personal savior, but either way I did sort of lump you, albeit slightly, into that category. Again, my apologies if it doesn’t apply. That was sloppy writing.

      7.) I’m going to skip over the stuff you wrote about believing in the Constitution (because, well, we all do), and the idea you don’t want your “tax dollars used…to take care of another country’s children here illegally” (because, well, I prefer my tax dollars not be used to pay Ted Cruz’ salary, but, oh well, there’s that danged old Constitution that we believe in, right?). I will, though, continue to challenge anyone who calls those children from Central America “illegals.” As if their entire lives—entire lives!—should be defined by that one action with that one word. I find that appalling, and believe it should be self-evidently so, for reasons I won’t go into now.

      8.) What I really want to get to is this statement you made on your Facebook page introducing your response on this blog:

      Randy Duane Graham, who posts on the Joplin GLOBE page as R. Duane Graham, used me as an example of a hateful, bigoted, racist, local right-wing woman in his blog including making fun of a Facebook post I made: “When you are down to nothing, God is up to something.”, all because I don’t choose to welcome or financially support illegal immigrant children with American taxpayer dollars….

      I have already addressed your claim that I made fun of that Facebook post (again, I didn’t; I used it to make a rather positive point about those children from Central America, the same ones you want to force back to their home countries to experience only God knows what end). Thus, I will address what you said about me using you “as an example of a hateful, bigoted, racist, local right-wing woman.” What I actually did, which I now regret, was use your comments as an example of one of those terms, not all of them. The actual language was this:

      Same with many of the other people whose comments were hateful, bigoted, racist, or some combination. One such commenter…happens to be a local woman…named Mary Schillaci.

      As you can see I was not referring to the commenters themselves as hateful or bigoted or racist, but the comments they made. I was judging what was said, not the person who said it. But beyond that very important point, what I actually meant, and failed to express properly, was,

      Same with many of the other people whose comments were either hateful or bigoted or racist or some combination. One such commenter…happens to be a local woman…named Mary Schillaci.

      That’s what I meant, and it is my fault for not making that clear and not your fault for inferring the worst. I probably would have done the same thing. And for that I also offer you another apology (that’s two now). I should have written a better sentence, one that said what I meant to say, or simply not used your comment on that NBC Los Angeles story at all. My bad.

      Having said that, I did mean to suggest that your comments to Jeff Wagner (“God helps those who help themselves” and “Their countries need to help their own people and we will help ours with OUR TAX DOLLARS. Americans first!”) were examples of bigotry, defined as,

      a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially :  one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance

      Your comments to Jeff Wagner struck me as bigoted because I found them to be dismissive, obstinately prejudicial, intolerant, and directed toward a group of people, in this case those Central American kids who need our help. But you defended yourself in your response above with this:

      I do believe Americans have a duty to take care of Americans first and I believe God does help those who help themselves. How is any of that hateful, bigoted, racist or other? You don’t want to believe either of those things, that’s fine with me.

      Here I will take the time to explain to you why it is that someone like me, a liberal Democrat and former evangelical Christian Republican, finds your comments to Jeff Wagner (comments that a large number of Americans would agree with, by the way) bigoted. I will take the time because, hoping against hope, maybe you can better understand where I am coming from. Okay? That’s the spirit in which I have been writing this entire lengthy response, I promise.

      Let’s start with “God helps those who helps themselves.” As I mentioned, a large majority of Americans, including Bible-believing Americans, believe that phrase is in the Bible. It isn’t. And as I mentioned, the phrase seems to me (and others) to run counter to the entire point of Christianity: God, in Jesus, helped those who could not help themselves, an idea I find to be the most attractive part of the Bible. Now, you suggested you might not even be a Christian, which is fine, but you can’t ignore the fact that most of the people around us, particularly most of the people in the conservative movement (to which I used to belong), are in fact Christians. Thus, when someone in our culture, someone on the right-wing of political thought, uses that phrase, it is natural to critique the use of it as if they were using it like a lot of Christian conservatives use it.

      And here is the critique: When I hear that phrase coming off the lips or keyboards of conservatives in the context of child migration, I hear: “You’d better help yourself, little ones, because you’re on your own. Don’t expect any help from me or the government.” You may mean something different by it, but it smacks of selfishness to me, or rather a justification of selfishness, either personal selfishness or national selfishness.

      Obviously, I write opinions based on what I perceive, and I perceived that comment, in the context you used it, as bigoted. But I acknowledge that bigotry itself is often in the eye of the beholder, so I can see why you would adamantly object to having your comments labeled as bigotry (again, I did not call you a bigot), even in the context cited. But I can’t apologize for expressing to readers how your comment landed on my neurons, especially in a discussion you were involved in under a story titled, “Protesters Block Bus Carrying Immigrants.”

      And as for the idea of national selfishness, let’s move on to, “Their countries need to help their own people and we will help ours with OUR TAX DOLLARS. Americans first!” Again, let me try to explain to you how that sounds to my ears—especially in the context of excluding from this country desperate kids from Central America: Spectacularly selfish. We are talking about a lot of young kids when we are discussing those migrants from Central America (and that’s what we were talking about; I remind you that my piece was titled, “Of Illegal Immigrant Children And Millstone Necklaces“).

      And if their governments were helping “their own people,” the children wouldn’t be coming here. That is the point, Mary. They are fleeing because they need help! They are knocking on our door (and on the doors of other nations) because in many cases their own governments failed to protect them. We can say all day that their governments “need” to do this or that, but the reality is that they aren’t doing this or that for so many of their own people, especially so many of their own children. I think, given the wealth of this country, we should answer the door and at least—at least—hear their pleas for asylum.

      We Americans, for the most part, are a fortunate group of folks. There isn’t a single one of us today who hasn’t benefited from the past work of others, all the way back to our Founders and before. Many of those “others” were people who were captured in Africa and put on ships and sold here as slaves, who then contributed greatly to the wealth of the country (although they didn’t share in any of it) at a crucial time in our history.

      Many other people who helped build the America we know today were immigrants, like the Chinese (not “illegal” immigrants at the time because there were no enforced laws restricting them or others until later), who did a lot of the heavy, dirty work of building the indispensable Transcontinental Railroad and were significantly involved in agriculture on the West Coast, as well as other efforts that contributed to the nation’s well-being.

      Thus, we owe a lot to folks who came here looking for work, looking for a better life, looking for the promise of America. And I find it stunningly selfish for those of us living today, those of us who have benefited from the work of other immigrants (and every white man and woman who first landed here were immigrants, too), to turn our backs on children, a significant number of whom, if they were forced to go back home, would likely face unspeakable horrors.

      I’m sorry you don’t find that persuasive. I’m sorry there is such a chasm between us, between you and me and between those of us on the left and those of you on the right. I’m sorry you refer to the current President of the United States as a POS. I’m sorry some liberals said the same thing about the last one. But it seems to me that at least on this issue, on the issue of helping desperate children, we could all find some common ground, given our history. But apparently we can’t. Apparently the other things that divide us, like our positions on taxation or government spending or Barack Obama and so on, have spilled over and now dampen even the most basic humanitarian impulses of a large swath of Americans.

      And there I will end. By now, Mary, after so many words, you and I are likely the only ones left in this little discussion. I hope you will take this response in the way it was meant, as a gesture of good will, as well as a defense of most (but not all) of what I wrote. In a better world, in a world where we weren’t fighting over taxes and tolerance and tradition and tea parties and a thousand other things tied to politics, perhaps we could be, if not friends, at least not enemies.


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