Sunday, December 06, 2015

After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, approximately 120,000 Japanese men, women and children in the U.S.--a majority of them American citizens--were rounded up and forcibly relocated to spartan internment camps in remote locations. They were stripped of their humanity and reduced to a caricature: Japs. Interestingly, the same was not done to people of German or Italian descent during WWII. Besides the humiliation of blatant racism that these Japanese-Americans suffered, many lost their homes and businesses. This ugly, nasty, ignorant over-reaction by some Americans and by the American government is now looked upon with great shame (and for a long time many did not want to acknowledge that it occurred).

And yet, here we are again. The details are different but the underlying xenophobia and racism are the same. At its root is the great sin of tribalism and fear of those different from us. Some folks--many of them professing Christians--are beginning to say and post things about Syrian refugees and about Muslims in general that I can't imagine ever coming out of the mouth of Jesus. Jesus welcomed people--even those considered to be "the enemy." He saw their humanity. He taught us to care for those who are strangers to us, even if there is risk and sacrifice involved.  He said to do unto them as we would hope someone would do unto us.

Do you know what the most often repeated phrase in the entire Bible is?
Do not be afraid.

In U.S. history, this cycle of fearful, ignorant, xenophobic reaction against "them," followed by inhumane actions, followed by (eventual) shame and regret has repeated itself over and over. I can't help but think, here we go again.


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