By Brian Reach
“’This is my command: Love each other. If the world hates you, keep in mind it hated me first’” (15 John 17:18)
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (11 Matthew 28)
“If I had a cat, I’d buy another one so I could kick one and then the other.” – Republican Governor of Texas Greg Abbott
The underlying theme of every holiday season is giving: taking time to sit with loved ones, exchange gifts, acts of kindness, supporting charity, providing refuge, gathering as a community… it is a time when selflessness and introspection is in rare form. During this time, those of us who celebrate often congregate on Christmas Eve, retelling the two-thousand year old story of a couple who couldn’t find a room in a busy town even for a woman in labor; traditionally praying in unison for food for those who are hungry, shelter for those who seek, and peace and justice in all the world.
While many of us were at Christmas Eve services, visiting loved ones, or wrapped up in a blanket avoiding the polar vortex, three charter buses arrived unexpectedly in DC (a day before they were supposed to arrive in New York City before the weather changed the plan). The buses unloaded 139 asylum-seeking families, including children, who had crossed the US-Mexico border in Texas seeking asylum. Dropped off in front of the Naval Observatory, where the Vice President resides, with no winter clothes and unprepared for the arctic blast they encountered, they wrapped in blankets as best they could as organizations scrambled to transport them to a nearby church. Finally. After a two-day, two-thousand mile journey (during which DC temperatures dropped fifty degrees to near record lows).
On December 20th, in a pompous and insulting letter addressed to President Biden but clearly designed for a conservative media parade, Abbott expressed pious concern for the well-being of migrants in the face of oncoming “perilous temperatures” (but failed to mention he was about to dump a bunch of them into even colder temperatures as pawns in a cruel stunt). This shouldn’t come as a surprise, given Abbott’s track record. In 2015, after the terrorist attacks on Paris, Abbott incorrectly attributed the attack to Syrian refugees and vilified all Syrian refugees, stating “any one of [them] could be connected to terrorism.” The attackers were French, Belgian and Iraqi; although some had snuck back into France with Syrian refugees, none were Syrian.
“…Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come.” (17 Luke 1)
So far Abbott has sent over ten thousand legal asylum seekers, primarily to DC and New York City over the past eight months, in response to the Biden administration not engaging in the extreme “deterrent” approaches of the previous administration (which included separating infants from their mothers and losing them in foster care systems throughout the country).
“Woe to you… you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’” (23 Matthew 29:30)
Abbott’s willingness to weaponize human beings for attention is not surprising; the Trump-era right is almost constantly claiming killers are inherently among groups of non-white asylum-seekers. Given the staggering number of people that have crossed the southern border over the last thirty years, one must wonder if perhaps criminals have decided the bureaucratic process of asylum-seeking isn’t a terribly attractive or efficient way to do terrorism. If it were, what would be left?
“Woe to you… you hypocrites! …You have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy, and faithfulness… You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.” (23 Matthew 23:24)
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. (6 Luke 45)
One might wonder how Abbott felt sitting in the pews on Christmas Eve, knowing the buses were arriving. Given he’s recently been doubling down one should probably conclude no ghosts visited him that evening to give him a change of heart or, if so, did to no avail.