There have been, from some quarters, attempts to defend Trump’s recent travel ban on the grounds of his promise to give preferential admission to the USA to Christian refugees. (Factually, they are targeted the same by the policy as written and as currently implemented- read all about it.) This is abhorrent- even assuming that this promise refers to some future state of affairs and not merely another alt-fact. (Evidence-free is the new fat free!) It is abhorrent not only for being an after-the-fact promise whose opposite has already been delivered, but from its root. It is evil to say that those I consider like myself are more worthy of help in a time of extreme need – the need itself justifies whatever relief can be accomplished. It is also evil (not to mention daft) to target large random groups of people in the name of maybe, possibly, preventing some feared future harm to one’s own. And this latter evil is the only justification I have seen offered for the ban.
It is facile to say that this is not a move especially intended to target Muslims- not only because of the false promise of preferential treatment to Christians but also because it is tailored to target Muslim majority countries- but also because of the claim that anyone who is in some sense a Muslim cannot be subject to religious persecution in a Muslim majority nation. One need not even understand the specifics of religious differences between sects of Islam to see through that particular bluster- even the lightest of acquaintance with Christian history should be sufficient. And it should take only a minimum of imagination to see how a real or pretended religious difference might be used as a pretext for stirring up passionate hatred that, in reality, has no basis at all.
Several oddities in the list of targeted vs. exempted nations have been widely reported. Conspicuously absent from the list of targeted Muslim majority nations are those in which Trump has business interests. But that list of targeted nations also specially targets countries hit by recent years’ proliferation of USA drone strikes. And the list of countries not targeted also lines up fairly well with those countries which have been nations of origin for parties involved in attacks on the USA. Which of these strange coincidences have a real meaning and which are simple happenstance in the flurry of “but Muslims…” fear-mongering will hopefully become clearer in the coming months.
Baghdad – The option foreshadowed by US President Donald Trump to maintain a “fast track” open for Christian refugees to enter the US, while the doors are closed to citizens of seven countries with a Muslim majority, is “a trap for Christians in the Middle East”. This was underlined by Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako, Primate of the Eastern Catholic Church. “Every reception policy that discriminates the persecuted and suffering on religious grounds”, explains Patriarch Louis Raphael “ultimately harms the Christians of the East, because among other things provides arguments to all propaganda and prejudice that attack native Christian communities of the Middle East as ‘foreign bodies’, groups supported and defended by Western powers. These discriminating choices”, adds the Primate of the Chaldean Church “create and feed tensions with our Muslim fellow citizens. Those who seek help do not need to be divided according to religious labels. And we do not want privileges. This is what the Gospel teaches, and what Pope Francis pointed out, who welcomed refugees in Rome who fled from the Middle East, both Christians and Muslims without distinction”.
“This is what the gospel teaches.” For Christians, that should be enough. The rest should just serve to draw our hearts, and with them our words and deeds, back to that.
(Image via Pixabay.)