Friday, June 01, 2007

Hatred of immigrants is sinful

Hatred of immigrants is sinful
Copyright by The Chicago Sun-Times
June 1, 2007

Bigotry never goes away. When it becomes unfashionable, it goes underground and waits until a new hate group appears into which it can project its twisted sickness. Racism, anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism and anti-immigrant nativism are chronic infections in the American body politic. Rush Limbaugh singing the obscene tune ''Barack the Magic Negro'' is inviting prejudice and violence. However, for pure irrational rage, the current crop of nativists are some of the worst to come along since the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s or those God-fearing Protestants who burned convents in Boston in the 19th century.

I wonder why the right-thinking people, the establishment columnists and editorial writers and commentators and religious leaders and anchor persons remain silent in the face of this bigotry.

The poll reports last week, especially the one done by the New York Times and CBS, leave little doubt that large majorities of Americans approve of the immigrant reform bill pending in the Senate. These data send the nativists into paroxysms of rage. However, their rage is so violent that senators and members of Congress may well be frightened away from the legislation. How many American clergy, I wonder, are willing to denounce such rage from the altar as seriously sinful. If hating African Americans was a sin 40 years ago (and it was and still is), then hating ''illegals'' is a sin today.

The hate mail I receive because of my opposition to the war is mild in comparison to the hate mail on immigration. One woman, a self-professed ''devout Catholic,'' says it's a shame that some of the immigrants die trying to enter America. But, she tells me, it's their own fault because they have broken the laws of the United States. So death is an appropriate punishment for what is legally only a misdemeanor? I judge no person's conscience; I leave that task to God. But in the objective order of right and wrong, that thought is surely a very grave sin.

I am told by another correspondent that when the ''illegals'' march in protests, they wave the Mexican flag, which shows where their loyalty is. Yet, every other American ethnic group waves the flag of its origins -- Poland, Greece, Italy, Sweden, Ireland, Denmark. Why deny that custom only to one group?

Another hate mail affirms the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness belong only to American citizens. To exclude some men and women from those basic rights is to deny their fundamental humanity, which is how Hitler started against Jews and Gypsies and the handicapped. Am I saying that hatred for immigrants is a Nazi attitude? You bet!

What do these people fear? What terrible threat to their well-being do these poor peons represent? Hordes of infidel invaders perhaps -- just as my ancestors frightened the good citizens of Boston?

Are not the immigrants themselves guilty of sin for entering a country that does not want them? The moral theology I learned said that someone who was desperate for food could steal from the rich without sinning. Cardinal Josef Frings of Cologne told his people in 1945 when they were starving that it was not wrong to steal from the British occupiers. With all the abundance north of the border and all the poverty south of the border, I doubt very much that a generous God would find anything more than bravery in the souls of those who strive to improve the lives of their families.


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