Donald Trump created a stir recently with his comments about immigration.
“When Mexico sends its people, they aren’t sending their best. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists and some, I assume, are good people.”
We could easily dismiss Trump and his comments by claiming that he’s our nation’s crazy uncle. But our crazy uncle is gaining in the GOP polls. After announcing his candidacy and making his comment about immigrants, he surged to second place among Republican voters.
It’s early, of course. I don’t expect Trump to maintain his surge. But I do think his comments reveal something important about politics.
Immigration and the Politics of Satan
In the biblical book of Job, Satan is the Accuser. Satan roams throughout the world as a prosecutor looking to make accusations against people. But Satan doesn’t care if people are good or bad. As we see with Job, all Satan cares about is making accusations.
In other words, truth doesn’t matter. All that matters is making an accusation that sticks.
Donald Trump made an accusation against Mexican immigrants that has struck a chord with many Republican voters. And that’s the point behind the satanic principle of accusation. As René Girard claims in his book, I See Satan Fall Like Lightning, “Satan seeks to have others imitate him.” Our imitation of Satan primarily comes in the form of accusations against our fellow human beings. That accusation is usually based on fear, a contagious emotion that is easily manipulated by the satanic principle of accusation.
But the fear is baseless because it isn’t grounded in truth. That’s especially true in the case of immigration. Study after study shows that immigrants, whether legal or illegal, are less likely to be involved in violent crimes than the rest of the population.
In her study, Bianca Bersani, professor of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts, states, “Foreign born individuals exhibit remarkably low levels of involvement in crime across their life course.”Jorg Spenkuch of Northwestern University finds that, “There is essentially no correlation between immigrants and violence crime.”
The Public Policy Institute of California reveals that, “Immigrants are underrepresented in California prisons compared to their representation in the overall population. In fact, U.S.-born adult men are incarcerated at a rate over two-and-a-half times greater than that of foreign-born men.”
Donald Trump’s accusations against Mexican immigrants is a clear example of the politics of Satan. Satanic politics orders the world through accusation, exclusion, and scapegoating. While native born Americans actually have a higher rate of violent criminal activity, that fact doesn’t matter to the politics of Satan. What matters is making an accusation that sticks.
Immigration and the Politics of God
Fortunately, we do have an alternative to the politics of Satan. We don’t have to order our lives around the principle of accusation and exclusion.
The way God wants us to order our lives, including our politics, isn’t based on accusation and exclusion, but love and acceptance. For example, take Exodus 22:21, “You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” Leviticus 19:34 continues the theme, “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
The politics of God makes no distinction between “illegal” and “legal” immigrants. Rather, all immigrants are human beings worthy of being included and treated with love. The Bible calls us to empathize with all immigrants, “for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” While in Egypt, the Israelites were marginalized and treated as less than human. In modern America, we’d call them “illegal immigrants.”
But the Bible calls us to something higher. The Bible calls us away from the divisive politics of Satan and toward God’s politics of love.
Instead of making accusations against immigrants, the Bible calls us to love them. Instead of excluding immigrants, the Bible calls us to include them.
The differences between the politics of Satan and the politics of God couldn’t be clearer. It’s the difference between exclusion and embrace. This election cycle, let’s follow God who calls us to “love the alien as yourself.”
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