Tag Archives: social justice

Speaking the Unspoken - A Film About Racism in the American High School

Racism in High School – A Film – Students Speaking The Unspoken

Speaking the Unspoken

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the final day of the school year in 2007, our local high school nearly had an outbreak of race-based violence. Our son witnessed this. He was very disturbed it. — so was I.

During the summer, I contacted our local school district officials – the outcome of which is this film….the frank testimonies of our students – for students in other high schools – who may face a similar reality.

You can watch the film here on YouTube:

It’s purpose is to be educational, contain uncensored, gritty student expression, cause dialog about race, ethnicity, prejudice, sexual orientation, attitudes and racism — and provide a tool – map — to a bridge — a creative pathway – high school students may use to explore these critical issues in their own lives – in their own school – their own community.

In every sense, this film is intended to be constructive and instructive. It’s when we cower from confronting the tough issues together – that learning becomes diminished.

Please use this tool constructively – and admire the courage of high school students “Speaking the Unspoken” among themselves – for the benefit of all concerned.

Your feedback is appreciated.

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Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

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The following is a letter I sent to our Mayor and City Councilors today, after attending a public hearing on an ordinance to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in our City (Redmond, Oregon USA) for a year. We currently have none.

Here’s the letter:

March 26, 2014

Dear Mayor and City Councilors:

Re: Medical Marijuana Dispensary Licensing in Redmond, Oregon

I brought my 17 year old “son” (international exchange student from Cologne Germany) to the City Council meeting last night – Tuesday March 25th. He had never experienced attending any meeting of elected officials in the U.S. before.

After the meeting, I asked him, “so what did you think?” “It’s a wonderful thing witnessing democracy in action,” he said, bubbling with obvious excitement. “When I return to Germany this summer, I am going to get involved in my local community.” I smiled with pride.

He was also impressed by the dignity that is shared by the Council members when confronted with those who have opinions contrary to those you may hold individually. Finally, he was moved by those clearly less fortunate – who mustered the courage to speak publicly at the forum. “I hope Redmond will provide those who suffer with the ability to buy their medically approved cannabis in Redmond,” he said…staring out the window of the car…

As a resident, voter, parent and father – I would like to thank you all for your comportment – and the impact the same has on a student from another culture and country – who has been positively impacted by your public service. Thank you VERY much.

To Councilor Onimus – your remarks, dissent, informed judgment and compassion  must influence the ongoing deliberations of your fellow councilors on this issue of licensing a regulated medical marijuana dispensary in Redmond.

Please note:

1. There is nothing written in stone that says the proposed “moratorium” MUST be for one year. Why not 6 months, nine or ten months?

2. A publicly declared framework for “educating’ the Council and the Community” may also be a consideration – one that itemizes a timeline along with specific activities, questions and objectives the Council will explore together – toward this fundamentally important end.

3. The ordinance, as currently written, omits the prohibition of “production” of cannabis within the City limits. However, patients with a State approved OMMP card are authorized to do so and/or designate a caregiver or grower to do the same for them – in Redmond. This appears to be somewhat of a conundrum that deserves further  research.

The OMMA clearly states (and I quote): “The Oregon Medical Marijuana Act (OMMA) protects medical marijuana users who comply with its requirements from Oregon criminal prosecution for production, possession or delivery of marijuana.” (end quote).

4. I can only hope that Mayor Endicott’s position that “allowing medical marijuana dispensaries to operate in Redmond is a violation of Federal law, and our oath to uphold the Constitution.” As pointed out by a Mr. Matlock during the meeting – Oregon has had legislatively approved/operative “right to die” laws operative for many years – in clear contradiction to existing federal law. In fact, Matlock pointed out, the “right to die” choices have been – and are being made – by Redmond residents, their physicians, caregivers, families, the staff of St. Charles Medical Center in Redmond, and Redmond based convalescent and hospice facilities. “What’s next? Are you going to take this right away from us too?”

There are a myriad of other examples whereby current Oregon law conflicts with the proscriptions of Federal statutes. Again, I can only hope the Mayor will engage in behavior to further illuminate the porosity of his stated position. Yet, I honor his right to his stated position.

Finally, science continues to make advances that disrupt norms, mores, traditions – what we thought we knew – is being replaced by what we now know – it’s a fundamental part of human existence.

My hope is that you will use the moratorium period you decide upon to act in the best interests of those who suffer – whereby new advances in alternative, state approved and regulated medicinal approaches – may provide these sufferers with access to this medicine in Redmond, Oregon.

Remember the testimony of Lois Sweet:

I’m now a participant in life. I want to spend my money in Redmond – NOT Bend.”

Again, I am proud of all you – and City Staff – as the superb public servants – and people – you continue to be.

You represent us well. Thank you.

Respectfully yours,

William S. Dahl

 

 

 

At Canaan’s Edge by Taylor Branch

Encouraged by author and acquaintance Andrew Himes new book, The Sword of the Lord – The Roots of Fundamentalism in an American Family, I began reading Taylor Branch’s At Canaan’s Edge – America in the King Years 1965-1968.

This 771 page epic is the final in a trilogy from Taylor Branch ( Pilliar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-65 and Parting The Waters: America in the King Years 1954-1963 (Pulitzer Prize Winner for Non-fiction).

I find that a reading of history is incredibly informative regarding the issues and challenges currently faced by one’s country and our world.

This book truly captures the essence of an ongoing struggle in each and every society. As stated by President Lyndon Johnson (p.230): “But wantin’ to do what’s right and doing’s what’s right’s two different things – and sometimes, it’s a long hill to climb in between.”

In reading this book, you re-live this era. Your heart breaks. Your soul is shattered. You’re shocked and appalled. You become baptized in the depth of the sacrifices made and lives that were lost. You see the faces and voices of hate, bigotry and prejudice – deeply ingrained in the human equation. Yet, you see what progress can and must be made when the immorality within the day-to-day of human existence is confronted with a movement of moral determination.

Consider the following excerpt from President Johnson(pp.112-113):

“Rarely are we met with a challenge, not to our growth and abundance, or our welfare or our security, but rather to the values and purpose and the meaning of our beloved nation….we have already waited a hundred years and more and the time for waiting is gone.”

As I read the book, I couldn’t help but contemplate ongoing, unresolved issues of social inequity and injustice where America has “waited over 200 years and the time for waiting is gone.

In what Robert Kennedy called “a moral issue — as old as the Scriptures…as clear as the constitution.” (p. 474) – segregation, in it’s many forms, remains an ongoing, unresolved challenge in America today. As I read Taylor Branch’s book, I could hear current day voices and the faces and places of the immorality of prejudice, bigotry and segregation the continue to inhabit the heart of this great nation. Essential U.S. immigration reform kept coming to mind. The most segregated social institution in America remains the church.

That’s why books like Andrew Himes The Sword of the Lord are so darn important. They remind us that the life’s work of Dr. King, Taylor Branch — and all those who have preceded us as citizens of this great country — that we have much more to do where the time for waiting is gone.


Immipartheid

The Disease Without a Name

Words are the bugles of social change,” [i] wrote London Business School professor Charles Handy.

Whatever symptoms you might experience, there’s a word somebody has created to capture the essence of what seems to be ailing you. If a friend says they have symptoms like fever, the chills, nausea, diarrhea, upset stomach and headache for example, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? “You’ve come down with the flu!”

It seems as if the ability to name a disease is dependent upon identifying a certain set of symptoms that alert ourselves and our physicians to the distinct possibility that we are unhealthy. When the sheer numbers of people afflicted become large enough, somebody, somewhere seems to step up and begin looking for a cure. Epidemics have a tendency to get people’s attention. Where do these breakthroughs come from?

Take the New York born (October 28, 1914) son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, for example. The first in his family to go to college, he enrolled at the medical school of New York University, researching influenza. The existence of the flu virus had recently been documented by others. This young student was eager to determine if the virus could be deprived of its ability to infect, while preserving the basis for immunity to the illness. He succeeded in this effort, continuing his research endeavors over the next decade. On April 12, 1955, the discovery of the polio vaccine was announced to the world. Dr. Jonas Salk became a household name. Salk never patented the vaccine nor had any desire to profit from its deployment.

Throughout history, cultures develop symptoms that evidence broader, societal ills.  Yes, countries can become afflicted with maladies just like individuals unfortunate enough to contract the flu or polio. Who typically alerts the broader public to these sorts of social ills and the need for their eradication? Madleine L’Engle suggests, The first people that a dictator puts in jail are the writers and the teachers because these are the people who have vocabulary. Artists are dangerous people because they are called to work with human clay, with the heart and the soul.”[ii]

On June 24, 1901 a boy was born in a town in eastern Poland. He arrived in the United States on April 18, 1941 as a Jewish, immigrant-refugee. Raphael Lemkin has been characterized as one who belonged to a virtual community of frustrated, grief-stricken witnesses.[iii]


Lemkin’s distress was attributable to the evil he observed evolving in Europe. He focused on developing a readily recognizable term that captured the essence of the malady. He studied semantic theory and linguistics. He discarded terms like barbarism and mass murder. In November 1944, Columbia University Press released his book entitled Axis Rule in Occupied Europe. The word that he created to populate the discourse about the reality of Hitler’s horrors was unleashed. ‘Genocide,the crime without a name had been born. Shortly after his death on August 28, 1959, approximately 70 countries had ratified a treaty criminalizing genocide. His funeral was attended by seven people.

Daniel Malaan became Prime Minister of South Africa in May 1948. He mis-diagnosed the ills of South Africa and was a central architect in the deployment of the prescribed treatment: apartheid. According to the dictionary, apartheid is defined as, the policy or practice of political, legal, economic, or social discrimination, as against the members of a minority group. The apartheid prescription developed by South Africa included the molecular components for the preservation of white supremacy, separation of the races and a retribalization of Africans. By 1991, a period of forty-three years, the final vestiges of apartheid legislation were repealed and free elections were held in 1994. Making a poor diagnosis and prescribing the wrong treatment can eviscerate the soul of a nation.

Today in the United States, we are not immune to the insidious maladies that come to infect the souls of our people and the heart of our nation. The symptoms are evident, the malady is pervasive, and the integrity of our country is at stake. There are a myriad of diagnostic opinions, yet no congressional consensus and federal approval for the components of the cure. This disease has no name.

Epidemiology

There will be no magic pill we can swallow, no miraculous antibiotic we can inject, no patch we can affix to our epidermis, no secret lotion we can apply. When the heart of a nation becomes afflicted with cardiovascular infarction, we’ve all come down with the malady, whether we recognize it individually or not. Today, the U.S. has become infected with the disease of immipartheid. To prepare yourself to ingest what I’m about to say, gird yourself with the counter-intuitive curiosity of Salk, the compassionate persistence of Lemkin, and the distinct potential for living the consequences from disastrous errors in judgment embraced by the nation of South Africa. Let me explain.

Apartheid has been diagnosed as possessing the following elements:

  1. A policy of racial segregation involving political, legal, and economic discrimination against nonwhites.
  2. A principle or practice of separating or setting apart groups of people.
  3. The legal circumstance of being separated from others; segregation.

According to the U.S. census[iv] in 1860, the population of the U.S. was 31,443,321. Of that total, 3,953,760 were identified as non-white slaves. In 2007, the estimates range from 10 to 30 million undocumented, resident immigrants living in the U.S., the vast majority of which are non-white and of Hispanic descent. The percentages of non-white slaves in this nation 150 years ago and undocumented immigrant residing among us today are comparable. The parallels continue.

The non-white South Africans subjected to apartheid, former non-white slaves in the U.S. and present day undocumented immigrants residing in the U.S., have the following in common:

  1. Voting rights were restricted or non-existent.
  2. Access to public services such as education and medical care were restricted and often of inferior quality vs. those afforded their white counterparts.
  3. Forms of identification emerged that designated the person as a member of a segregated class. ( consular cards, discussion about the implementation of a national ID card).
  4. Movement within the country was restricted. (try getting on an airplane today without a valid ID).
  5. Permits authorizing one to labor in certain occupations and/or certain geographic areas emerged. Oftentimes, these permits did not include the spouse or other members of one’s own family.
  6. The legal ownership of land was tightly regulated, precluding segregated persons from participation.

The parallels are clear: A disenfranchised class of people, numbering in the millions, was formed and sustained in South Africa. Of course, in the case of U.S. slaves and non-whites in South Africa, the creation and maintenance of this social structure of legalized oppression was intentional. Allow me to politely characterize the genesis of the situation of resident, undocumented immigrants in the U.S. today as inadvertent. Yet, the reality of the situation we find ourselves in here in the U.S. is clearly a mutant form of apartheid. We’ve contracted immipartheid; a condition that possesses a distinctly similar syndrome of outcomes for the afflicted as apartheid.

You may contract disease either inadvertently or intentionally.  The intentionality of willingly, or deliberately infecting another person with an infectious disease, shocks the global human conscience (take for example, knowingly transferring an HIV infection to another person). In fact, in some cultures, this act is criminal. No matter how one contracts an infection, you must desire to return to a state of health. It requires treatment. The unwillingness to admit that one is ill, or agree upon the proper course of treatment, serves only to advance the seriousness of one’s condition. This is the state of the patient today in U.S. society: unwilling to admit we are soul-sick, and loath to muster the courage to immerse ourselves in the essential therapeutic milieu, we maintain the immipartheid infection, spreading it to others, allowing it to grow in complexity, advance in seriousness, posing an ever greater threat to the present health and welfare of our entire nation, our prospects for a full recovery, and a healthy, vibrant future.

This is not the first time in U.S. history we have succumbed to the insufferable angst of determining what to do with ourselves in a predicament like this. In the collected essays of America’s revered James Baldwin, Baldwin recorded and characterized the plight the American Negro (to use his words), as he wrestled with the issues of democracy, race and the American identity. The parallels to our current quandary are obvious:

“This is why his history and his progress, his relationship to all other Americans, has been kept in the social arena. He is a social and not a personal or a human problem; to think of him is to think of statistics, slums, rapes, injustices, remote violence; it is to be confronted with an endless cataloguing of losses, gains, skirmishes; it is to feel virtuous, outraged, helpless, as though his continuing status among us were somehow analogous to disease – cancer, perhaps, or even tuberculosis – which must be checked even though it cannot be cured. In this arena, the black man acquires quite another aspect from that which he has in life. We do not know what to do with him in life….Our dehumanization of the Negro then is indivisible from our dehumanization of ourselves: the loss of our own identity is the price we pay for the annulment of his.”[v]

The immunity we thought we had developed to being susceptible to this form of societal malady appears to have broken through again – or did we ever really have immunity?

Triggering the Immune Response

Most diseases are contracted inadvertently. When you become ill, you don’t go around looking for the source of the bug do you? Yet, in the case of immipartheid, we, once again, focus our attention on identifying a scapegoat; someone to blame. No issue (other than abortion) seems to lance the American under-belly like the issue of U.S. immigration reform. The venom and puss that ooze out of this polarized tirade about the appropriate treatment for our malady are toxic, shameful, and a stench to those around us. Our vitriolic stubbornness and closed-mindedness serve only to forestall the development and implementation of the required consensus for initiating the treatment regimen. Our outbursts ricochet around the planet, causing the global community to pause and reassess their view of the American identity.  In the United States today, we need a new dose of reality, as characterized by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright:

“I regret that we have fostered a political culture that rewards the extremes, a culture in which dogmatic belief is deemed a virtue and open-mindedness a weakness, and sarcasm and slanderous attacks frequently drown out intelligent discussion. Haven’t we had enough of this? We need a dose of unity.”[vi]

In his inauguration speech on January 10, 2001 President George W. Bush proclaimed to the Nation: America, at its best, is compassionate. In the quiet of American conscience, we know that deep, persistent poverty is unworthy of our nation’s promise. And whatever our views of its cause, we can agree that children at risk are not at fault. Abandonment and abuse are not acts of God, they are failures of love.[vii]

Perhaps Albright’s prescription for a dose of unity and Bush’s measure of love are just what the doctor ordered. It just might be the place to start. Yet, these elements seem foreign to the vast majority of the diagnoses being bantered about today.

Triggering the essential immune system response is fundamental to developing a vaccine to effectively address the immipartheid outbreak. However, it’s counter-intuitive. Salk essentially killed the poliovirus, yet kept it intact just enough to activate the necessary immune response. An immune response is basically the way our body recognizes and defends itself against bacteria, viruses, and substances that appear foreign and harmful to the body. Essentially, the vaccine is literally sourced from the virus that is ailing you. However, you need to be able to accurately establish the identity of the virus or you run the disastrous risks of creating the horrific consequences of a misdiagnosis as Malaan and his cohorts did in South Africa.

The testing of the hypotheses based upon shouting slogans, slurring others, scalping scapegoats, and fear-mongering are in: they do not trigger the desired immune response. It’s time to develop and test new hypotheses, using true and time-tested methods. Perhaps it’s time to reach deeply into our souls and emerge with the perseverance of Lemkin.

Maybe, a simple word might galvanize unity, guided by a love for the past, present and future of this nation-patient.

Heralding Healing:

Like any other malady, the contraction of the disease of immipartheid has been a process. One theologian suggests; “The use of others begins slowly and then, over time, becomes the habit that not only dehumanizes the other, it dehumanizes ourselves as well.”[viii] Resolving the U.S. immipartheid epidemic contains the genetic code essential to begin restoring a fundamental dimension of our national integrity. The matter of the destructive duplicity exposed by the infection of immipartheid provides us with the opportunity to begin prioritizing our actions above hollow, time-honored, well-worn slogans. There is pertinent wisdom in the following: “We can’t change what we are known for unless we change how we live.”[ix]

What does that look like? Maybe it contains an element of a new tone that guides our political deliberations today, as the essence of the following has characterized our more lucid moments for national public policy development, since the birth of this nation:

“A new political message is therefore called for. It must begin with the age-old assumption that we are only as strong as our weakest link. It asserts that the judgment of a society will depend not on how it treats its most powerful, privileged, and wealthy, but rather on how it treats its most vulnerable.”[x]

Perhaps, the genetic code of the immipartheid virus contains important strains of a moral configuration that we are just now beginning to explore and unravel. My sense is that this is the arena where we must now re-focus our efforts.  Maybe it’s the simple, time-tested, fundamental truths that we must learn to return to, in times as rapidly changing and complex as ours. Allow the simplicity of the following to speak to your senses.

“We gain something profound when we stand up for our beliefs, just as part of us dies when we know something is wrong, yet do nothing. We would call this radical dignity – if we remain silent in the face of cruelty, injustice and oppression, we sacrifice part of our soul.”[xi]

My prayer is that the soul of the body politic and the citizenry of the U.S. will begin to appreciate the term immipartheid for what it really is. I hope that this appreciation may birth a new posture that requires a reorientation in our attitudes, discussion and actions that respect the lessons of our Nation’s history. Just as we have identified anti-semitism and other racially-based slurs as a scourge, my hope is that we will apply this same fervor to the elimination of anti-immitism. The history of this nation reveals that we are capable of rising up and exterminating the social diseases we have somehow contracted. Our zeal to heal the infirmities of the world is presently hampered by our untreated condition here at home. Listen to the following:

“America is unlikely to play a different role in the world until it is a different America — until it finds ways once again realize the values of equality, liberty, democracy, and, one day, perhaps even of community in our own land. Efforts to alter the excesses of America’s international stance and to persuade the United States to respond more humanely to global problems are both essential and laudable. If we Americans truly hope to help others around the world, however, we have much hard work to do, first and foremost, here at home (emphasis is mine).”[xii]

Let’s not overlook the riveting insights of Baldwin, the counter-intuitive curiosity of Salk, the passionate persistence of Lemkin, as we prepare to assume a new posture, kneeling before the words, the language, of those who have gone before us. May we be reminded that we are the one’s called to work with human clay, with the heart and the soul.[xiii] Hearts that beat. Souls that hope. People just like us.

“When our language changes, behavior will not be far behind.”[xiv] I certainly hope so.

It’s the immoral part of our dilemma we cannot hide.

Somebody call 911.

About The Author:

Bill is a freelance writer. Bill is published in numerous professional publications, magazines, websites, journals, newspapers and newsletters. You can enjoy Bill’s writing on his website at http://billdahl.net/ For reprint permission, Contact Bill at wsdahl(at)bendbroadband(dot)com. All Rights Reserved.

NOTES


[i] Handy, Charles The Age of UNREASON Harvard Business School Press © 1994 p. 17.

[ii] L’Engle,Madeleine – Compiled by Carole F. Chase –  Herself – Reflections on a Writing Life, ShawBooks, An imprint of WaterBrook Press, Copyright © 2001 by Crosswicks Ltd. P. 15.

[iii] Power, Samantha A Problem From Hell – America and the Age of Genocide, Perrennial, An Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, Inc. NY.NY. Copyright © 2002 by Samantha Power, p. 31.

[iv] : http://www.census.gov/population/documentation/twps0056/tab01.xls

[v] Baldwin, James  James Balwin – Collected Essays – Edited by Toni Morrison – Published by The Library of America, Copyright © 1998 by Literary Classics of the United States, Inc. NY,NY excerpt from Notes of a Native Son pp. 19.

[vi] Albright, Madeleine The Mighty and the Almighty – Reflections on America, God and World Affairs, HarperCollinsPublishers, Inc. NY,NY Copyright © 2006 by Madeline Albright, Pp. 89-90

[vii] http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/inaugural-address.html

[viii] Chittister, Joan The Ten Commandments – Laws of the Heart, Orbis Books Maryknoll, New York Copyright © 2006 by Joan Chittister p. 118.

[ix] Kinnaman, David and Lyons, Gabe UNChristian – What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity and Why It Matters, Baker Books – Grand Rapids, Michigan, Copyright © 2007 by David Kinnaman and The Fermi Project, p.   P. 231.

[x] Rank, Mark Robert One Nation Underprivileged, Oxford University Press Oxford, U.K. and NY,NY Copyright © 2004 by Mark Robert Rank p. 251.

[xi] Rogat Loeb, Paul The Impossible Will Take A While – A Citizen’s Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear, Basic Books – A Member of the Perseus Books Group NY,NY Copyright © 2004 by Paul Rogat Loeb, p. 12

[xii] Alperovitz, Gar America Beyond Capitalism – Reclaiming Our Wealth, Our Society and Our Democracy John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Hoboken, NJ Copyright © 2005 by Gar Alperovitz P. 239.

[xiii] L’Engle,Madeleine – Compiled by Carole F. Chase -  Herself – Reflections on a Writing Life, ShawBooks, An imprint of WaterBrook Press, Copyright © 2001 by Crosswicks Ltd. P. 15.

[xiv] Handy, Charles The Age of UNREASON Harvard Business School Press © 1994 p. 17.

Victimmigration

“What’s that?”

Each time I drive to or from San Diego, CA on Interstate 5 with a first time visitor to the area, they always exclaim, “What’s that?” They are pointing out the window to an upcoming sign posted distinctly at the side of the freeway. These bright yellow signs contain the contrasting dark image of an adult, holding hands with two children, one on each side. They are running.

“What’s that?” is indicative of the level of awareness and involvement of the Christian community regarding our existing immigration policy that systematically oppresses God’s children. The purpose of this expose is to change the posture of the Christian community in the U.S. from a position of “What’s that?” to “That’s what!”

The Call:

As I read my Bible, I am continually reassured by the penchant of our God to see what is going on down here, and His ability to direct His attention to the voices that seem to be drowned out by the chatter of man.

In Exodus Chapter 3, God appears to Moses out of a heartfelt concern for the plight of His people.  “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey – the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 9And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them.[i]

Public policy that oppressed a certain segment of God’s children had become acceptable practice by the people of Egypt. It is interesting to note how often the Bible illustrates that which becomes ‘acceptable public policy’ in the eyes of man, is actually a distinct abomination in the sight of our God.

Today in the United States, we are modern day witnesses and participants in supporting a public policy that currently oppresses millions of God’s children. Pundits have even boldly advanced the following argument, as written in Exodus: 8Then a new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power in Egypt. 9″Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelites have become much too numerous for us. 10Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.” [ii] In other words, rather than viewing the oppression of His people as something the Christian must act against, many of us have become caught up in the “threat argument” that these aliens pose to us, tacitly supporting the oppression of existing public policy, contrary to the heart of God. Other Christians simply stand around with their hands in their pockets, whistling in an attempt to ignore the situation.

Something must change. Scripture clearly indicates that God is not going to change His heart with regard to the oppression of His people. Public policy won’t change until the Christian community comes together to provide the voice for the muffled cries of His children. These cries are currently drowned out by the media manufactured, secular agenda of mainstream priorities in the U.S. that invade our ears, eyes and minds on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, as it was for Moses, such is our lot today. It is through our obedient compliance to His Word that things will change. Yet, we must be the ones’ to heed His call. It is a call to become involved in the fray where victims of oppression are created by public policy that creates and condones “man’s inhumanity to man,” as characterized in the following by Francis Schaeffer:

“If it is true that evil is evil, that God hates it to the point of the cross, and that there is a moral law fixed in what God is in Himself, then Christians should be the first into the field against what is wrong—including man’s inhumanity to man.”[iii]

The Mexodus:

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Hispanics have outnumbered African Americans residing in the U.S. since of July 1, 2002.[iv] This is a 58% increase in the figure reported for the 1990 census. Less than 60% of all Mexican-Americans hold a U.S. passport.[v] Hispanic families are reported to average more than three children per family while the remainder of U.S. families average under two. According to one author, “Anyway you look at it, the future of the United States is a Hispanic one. The Latino wave is unstoppable.”[vi]

Every 100 minutes, an illegal immigrant from Mexico or Latin America successfully crosses the border into United States. The issue of oppression is rampant within The Mexodus: The plight of millions of Mexican citizens fleeing to the United States motivated solely by the hope of a better life. This reality is created by the improbability and hopelessness of providing their families with a better future, escaping the certainty of subsistence level poverty in their country of origin. This is our modern day Exodus I am referring to as The Mexodus.

Through June 30, 2004, there have been a reported 880,000 arrests of illegal immigrants attempting to cross the U.S./Mexican border (versus 932,000 “total illegal entrants” at all 317 U.S. entry points and borders in fiscal 2003.[vii] (Period October 1, 2002 to September 30, 2003). The “estimate” is that 2 – 3 times as many persons successfully cross the border than are caught. Depending upon whose numbers you choose to select, there are an estimated 9-15 million undocumented Mexican citizens presently residing in the United States.[viii]

Chillegals:

One critically important dimension of the Mexodus issue is the well-being of the children of illegal Mexican immigrants living in the U.S.. I will refer these innocent children here as ‘Chillegals.’ Most of these children began their journey to our country as infants, wrapped in blankets, and coddled in the arms of their parents as they made their way across the border. As infants and children, they did not give their consent to the decision of their parents. In fact, they were victimized by their parents. Victimization is defined as “adversity resulting from being made a victim.”

Most Christians would agree that prostitution, the use of illegal drugs and illicit gambling are crimes. Although “crimes” in the legal sense of the word and proscribed by Scripture, our society has labeled these acts as “victimless crimes” because “nobody other than those consenting to the act are harmed.”  I think we can all agree that this “victimless” stuff is nonsense can’t we? When it comes to victimless crimes, we know that prostitution, drug abuse and gambling cause harm to others, well beyond those involved “in the act.” All “victimless crimes” contain the element of “one consenting adult engaging in illicit behavior.”

Victimmigration:

As it relates to the plight of the millions of Chillegals residing in the U.S., these infants and children never had the capacity to consent or dissent to the actions taken by their parents. Yet, we hold them responsible and oppress them, based upon the immoral treatment afforded them under current public policy. This is Victimmigration: The ongoing oppression of infants and children of illegal Mexican immigrants in the U.S.

We oppress them in the following ways:

  • No social security cards
  • No drivers licenses
  • No air travel
  • Limit the opportunities for qualified candidates to pursue higher education.
  • No opportunity to work legally
  • We prevent them from participating in and contributing to our society…the only home they have ever known.
  • We perpetuate oppression: A vicious, immoral, unnecessary cycle.
  • We encourage the proliferation of poverty-ravaged subcultures within the U.S.

The Christian Call To Arms:

The Call To Arms for the Christian Community in the United States is to reach out and embrace these infants and children who have become non-consenting victims of U.S. Victimmigration policy. Their innocent voices cannot be heard by bureaucrats and the politicians in power in Washington D.C. Francis Schaeffer encourages us to speak up and act on behalf of the oppressed, as summarized in the following:

“The Christian should be in the front line, fighting the results of man’s cruelty, for we know it is not what God has made. We are able to be angry at the results of man’s cruelty without being angry at God or being angry at what is normal.”[ix]

Consider the following inspiration from our Holy Bible:

Numbers 15: 15The community is to have the same rules for you and for the alien living among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the alien shall be the same before the LORD: 16The same laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the alien living among you.’ ” [x]

Jeremiah 7: ” 5If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, 6if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, 7then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever. 8But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless. [xi]

Ezekiel 47: 21″You are to distribute this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel. 22You are to allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the aliens who have settled among you and who have children. You are to consider them as native-born Israelites; along with you they are to be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. 23In whatever tribe the alien settles, there you are to give him his inheritance,” declares the Sovereign LORD. [xii]

Zechariah 7: 8And the word of the LORD came again to Zechariah: 9″This is what the LORD Almighty says: `Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. 10Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.’ 11″But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and stopped up their ears. 12They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the LORD Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the LORD Almighty was very angry. 13″ `When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,’ says the LORD Almighty. 14`I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations, where they were strangers. The land was left so desolate behind them that no one could come or go. This is how they made the pleasant land desolate.’ “[xiii]

Conclusion:

It is my prayer that your soul shall hear the voice of our Lord Jesus as He speaks in Luke Chapter 4:

18″The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

because he has anointed me

to preach good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

and recovery of sight for the blind,

to release the oppressed,

19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”[xiv]

Our choice is no different today than the one that confronted Moses a few thousand years ago. Will we continue to attempt to reply to Him, as Moses did, saying, 13″O Lord, please send someone else to do it?”[xv] Can we hear him responding to our apathy and feeble attempts to avoid acting upon His commands as He shouts: 11″Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? 12Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” [xvi]

Our Call to Arms as Christian’s regarding the Victimmigration issue in the United States, is clearly captured in the following words from Jesus Christ that continue to ricochet through the corridors of time:

Mark 10: 13People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16And He took the children in his arms, put His hands on them and blessed them. [xvii]

As you lift your arms to worship and embrace Jesus, be reminded to bow down and embrace the cause of His Children who have become victims of immoral, modern day public policy in the United States…the children of Victimmigration. This is the Christian Call to Arms.

He won’t “send somebody else” to accomplish His work on this Earth. He’s counting on you. So are His children.

Bow down. Embrace this cause today. Allow your “What’s that?” to become a “That’s what I am called to do as a disciple of Jesus Christ?”

NOTES:


[i] Exodus 3: 7-10  Excerpted from Compton’s Interactive Bible NIV. Copyright (c) 1994, 1995, 1996 SoftKey Multimedia Inc. All Rights Reserved

[ii] Exodus 1:8 -10 Excerpted from Compton’s Interactive Bible NIV. Copyright (c) 1994, 1995, 1996 SoftKey Multimedia Inc. All Rights Reserved

[iii] Francis A. Schaeffer, The God Who Is There, InterVarsity Press Copyright (c) 1968 p. 136

[iv] U.S. Bureau of the Census. June 18, 2003.

[v] The Latino Electorate- 2002 National Survey of Latinos, Pew Hispanic Center/Kaiser Family Foundation, October 2002.

[vi] Ramos, Jorge The Latino Wave, Copyright (c) 2004 by Jorge Ramos, HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. NY, NY p. 238

[vii] Performance and Annual Report – Fiscal Year 2003 – U.S. Customs and Border Protection – U.S. Department of Homeland Security,

[viii] Performance and Annual Report – Fiscal Year 2003 – U.S. Customs and Border Protection – U.S. Department of Homeland Security, p. 68… NOTE: As indicated in a memorandum from the Commissioner of  U.S. Customs and Border Protection in 2003,[viii] the overall accuracy of the numbers reported by Border Patrol and Customs/Immigration Enforcement remain in doubt. The Commissioner states: “Customs had four outstanding material weaknesses at the beginning of FY 2003. Although we are well on our way to resolving a number of these weaknesses, until they are closed the existing deficiencies in the quality and adequacy of data provided by Customs financial accounting and reporting systems prevent me from providing reasonable assurance as of  September 30, 2003, that Customs overall controls and financial management systems were in conformance with standards prescribed by the Comptroller General of the United States.”

[ix] Schaeffer, Francis A. He Is There and He Is Not Silent, Tyndale House Publishers Copyright (c) 1972 by Francis A. Schaeffer  p. 29

[x] Numbers 15:15-16 Excerpted from Compton’s Interactive Bible NIV. Copyright (c) 1994, 1995, 1996 SoftKey Multimedia Inc. All Rights Reserved

[xi] Jeremiah 7:5-8 Excerpted from Compton’s Interactive Bible NIV. Copyright (c) 1994, 1995, 1996 SoftKey Multimedia Inc. All Rights Reserved

[xii] Ezekiel 47:21-23 Excerpted from Compton’s Interactive Bible NIV. Copyright (c) 1994, 1995, 1996 SoftKey Multimedia Inc. All Rights Reserved

[xiii] Zechariah 7: 8-14 Excerpted from Compton’s Interactive Bible NIV. Copyright (c) 1994, 1995, 1996 SoftKey Multimedia Inc. All Rights Reserved

[xiv]Luke 4:18-19 Excerpted from Compton’s Interactive Bible NIV. Copyright (c) 1994, 1995, 1996 SoftKey Multimedia Inc. All Rights Reserved

[xv] Exodus 4:13 Excerpted from Compton’s Interactive Bible NIV. Copyright (c) 1994, 1995, 1996 SoftKey Multimedia Inc. All Rights Reserved.

[xvi] Exodus 4:11-12 Excerpted from Compton’s Interactive Bible NIV. Copyright (c) 1994, 1995, 1996 SoftKey Multimedia Inc. All Rights Reserved.

[xvii] Mark 10: 13-16 Excerpted from Compton’s Interactive Bible NIV. Copyright (c) 1994, 1995, 1996 SoftKey Multimedia Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Immythgration

Immythgration

or

Myths Mashed in the Midst of the U.S. Immigration Policy Reform Debate

The First Batch:

Everybody has at least one opportunity in life to sample the first batch of cookies your little sister, brother, nephew, niece or neighbor kid cooks up. I can distinctly remember the day my little sister proudly presented me with three cookies that she had created. They were awful! I mean terrible. I could have choked to death if she hadn’t brought me a glass of milk with those darn things.

However, my reaction was probably like yours. I didn’t make a face, scream “YUCK!” or spit the mouthful out in my hand. I smiled politely, made “Yummy” sounds, chewed, swallowed and devoured all three of those damn things. Why? Because I didn’t want the little cook to feel bad.

Little cooks seem to grow up into adult chefs charged with cooking up socio-economic policy in this country. As it relates to the current U.S. immigration policy reform debate, the fare being served up from the state and federal test kitchens all over this country continues to be filled with artificial ingredients that make the entrée distasteful. Let me explain.

Following Instructions:

Why do we have recipes? My grandma had her recipes memorized, until my dad asked her to write them down on paper. My mom had recipe books all over the kitchen. My wife has hers filed away in the cupboard above the refrigerator…she gets most of her recipes on-line today.

We have recipes so someone other than the original person who created the dish is able to replicate the form, flavor and taste. My wife can follow the recipe that my grandma had for chocolate chip cookies with walnuts and produce the same, exact cookie. If my wife alters that recipe in any way, I can tell…immediately. Every once in a while, my wife will alter my mom or grandma’s recipes when she is out of a particular ingredient, decides to alter the proportions of required ingredients, or succumbs to the overwhelming urge to be creative.

Original recipe means original recipe. The only way to replicate original is to follow the original instructions. It is a myth to think that one can alter the original recipe in any way and produce a tasteful, current day replica. The recipe for cooking up present day original recipe U.S. immigration policy is no different. However, what we are presently sampling in this debate is fast-food fare that is filled with myths that alter the flavor of the enduring truths that have formed and sustained the soul of this nation.

Myth # 1Everything has changed since 9/11: Bull! My grandma didn’t change her recipe for chocolate chip cookies when Pearl Harbor, World War II, The Korean War, Vietnam, or Woodstock occurred. (She didn’t alter it when we landed a man on the moon). All this nonsense about everything changing since 9/11 is only political fodder to legitimize the fear and outrage agenda of those who want to capture an opportunity in our nation’s history to further preserve what they already have. This is done by redirecting their self-righteous revenge, veiled beneath a misguided sense of patriotic fervor. It is then served up as a new form of truth. This is not truth. It is myth, fabricated for the purposes of changing the original recipe. It is a lie. A quote from Princeton University’s Professor of Philosophy Emeritus Henry G. Frankfurt, captures the essence of this matter in the following: “The liar is inescapably concerned with truth-values. In order to invent a lie at all, he must think he knows what is true. And in order to invent an effective lie, he must design his falsehood under the guidance of that truth.”[i]

The truth about this myth is that there were the same number of undocumented Latino immigrants piloting those hijacked airplanes on 9/11 as the number of weapons of mass destruction the U.S. military uncovered after invading Iraq…Nada. Zero.

The truth of the matter is that when one begins to alter the original recipe of truth, the results are distasteful for all concerned.

Missing Ingredients:

I can remember the day I was helping my grandma bake cookies. They didn’t have timers in those days so grandma always kept a keen eye on the kitchen clock. This particular day, grandma got distracted and forgot when we had placed the batch in the oven. She grabbed her mitten and pulled the tray out of the oven. “Not yet Billy. They’re half baked,” she said.

Myth # 2Control the Border and Solve the Problem. Proponents of immigration reform who focus solely on controlling the border with Mexico as the solution to this matter, are serving up solutions that are at best, half-baked. These people would lead us to believe that we should devour their half-baked fare because “it looks like a cookie.” The point is that we need to put this sort of thinking back in the oven to allow the other ingredients in the recipe to fully integrate with each other. There’s nothing worse than a half-baked cookie, no matter how hungry you are for a solution. You don’t take a batch of chocolate chip-walnut cookies out of the oven just because the chocolate chips on the exterior of the cookies look good. Proper baking is an essential ingredient to every successful recipe.

One day, my wife decided to use pecans instead of walnuts in a batch of grandma’s cookies. Her thought was that I would never know the difference. Wrong!

Myth # 3Guest Worker Programs Are a Proper Substitute for a Path to Citizenship. Yeah, right! This is akin to substituting pecans for walnuts. The assumption is that undocumented immigrants come to the U.S. solely for the purpose of getting a job. Furthermore, if we provide a way for them to register, we will be better able to control the flow and keep track of their whereabouts. The fact of history is that the hopeless migrate to that land that is hopeful. Undocumented immigrants desire far more than just a job. They want to be participants in this society and enhance the hope for a brighter future for their families. By the way, the federal government wants you to believe that a guest worker program (pecan) is a proper substitute for a path to citizenship (walnut). However, when this fare gets served up in this country, we’re all going to recognize the fact that there’s something essential missing here.

Proper Proportions:

One day, Grandma made a mistake. After the first batch had cooled and she had poured two glasses of milk for us, we smiled at one another and grandma nodded, giving me the green light to grab the first warm cookie. She did the same. It took grandma all of ten seconds to figure out that there was something wrong. The vanilla was stale. She looked at me and said, “Well Billy, it’s back to square one.” With that, she tossed the first batch of cookies on the sheet and the entire bowl of cookie dough in the garbage. The vanilla we had used had been in grandma’s cupboard far too long. She gave me the empty chip package and a few bucks to go to the store and get a new bottle.

Myth # 4They will go backI am amused at the recipes for U.S. immigration reform that suggest the undocumented immigrants presently in the U.S. will simply return to their country of origin, as long as we create policy here that maintains their existence as less flavorful than it can be. There is absolutely no factual basis for such a claim. There’s no way that you can pluck the vanilla out that is already baked in the recipe. The vast majority of undocumented immigrants who reside in the U.S. are here to stay. Face it. Perhaps we should focus on the truth that our responsibility is to create a more fruitful nation by virtue of their addition to our national recipe. Their addition should be viewed as refreshing, essential ingredient rather than an element that makes the whole batch bad. That’s how the U.S. treated my grandma when she came here via Ellis Island. Maybe we should stick with the original recipe?

Myth # 5Ignore Them and They’ll Go Away – Grandma taught me that if you make a less than satisfactory batch of cookies, the best thing to do is start over rather than cook up the whole batch and hope enough people stomach the bad batch to make your effort worthwhile. Recipes for U.S. immigration policy reform must be mindful of the same. Bad, piecemeal policy does not contribute to a palatable solution for all concerned. Besides, it damages the reputation of the cook. Ignoring the need for a comprehensive solution is the only recipe for a tasteful, enduring solution.

Myth # 6Round em up and send em back – This is a position taken by the neo-con Center for Immigration Studies in a May 2005 report.[ii] Imagine me and my grandma attempting to extract the vanilla in the dough and bring it back to the store for a refund. It’s ridiculous. There’s no way you can do this. Particularly when you’re talking about human beings and a moral approach to this matter. The recipe for the soul of this nation is comprised of a multiplicity of ingredients that have been passed down from generation to generation. There are shameful periods of history in this country when we have attempted to discard certain ingredients; the Japanese-American internment camps in WWII, segregation, the right to vote and dissent during Vietnam and Watergate. Let’s not repeat the same, historical, shameful mistakes of this country that many would like to forget. Let’s step up to our responsibility that we have left this essential ingredient in the cupboard far too long. It’s not the vanilla’s fault.

The Presentation:

Grandma was always proud when she would bring out her neatly arranged platter of cookies after we had finished our family’s Sunday supper together. She always whispered to me, “No matter how you package it, it’s what’s inside that counts Billy.”

Myth # 7Package it Properly and It Will Sell – Come on America! Haven’t we tired of this myth yet? Let’s make sure that the fare we serve up in the U.S. immigration policy reform effort is one that is based upon tasteful substance, rather than a palatable appearance.

Summary

My grandma’s cookies warmed more hearts and put more smiles on faces in this nation than anything I can think of. Other than our family members, she usually brought them to folks who had been hit by some sort of trauma in life. Oftentimes, the people who enjoyed her fare didn’t even know her. Grandma didn’t know them either.

Grandma cooked up stuff because it was the right thing to do. Every batch was made with the same portions of loving care. Let’s follow grandma’s recipe shall we?

NOTES:


[i] Frankfurt, Harry G. On Bullshit, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ Copyright © 2005 by Princeton University Press, pp. 51-52.

[ii] http://www.cis.org/articles/2005/back605.html