A comment on the Arizona Law – Why a border?

Arizona has just passed “the nation’s toughest immigration law, one that gives the police broad power to stop people on suspicion of being here illegally.” (From Welcome to Arizona, Outpost of Contradictions – NYTimes.com.)

There are MANY angles from which to approach this story: economics, race/ethnicity, “legality”, religious injunctions, and more. In this longer-than-usual post, I am commenting on the economic underpinnings of the issue.

Bruce Reyes-Chow, Moderator for the Presbyterian Church (USA), has written a letter to congress, along with two other top officials in his denomination. Read it at his blog. On his facebook page, he asked people under 30 to comment, which I am and did. (Bruce pastors Mission Bay Community Church in San Francisco, and he sorta’-kinda’ knows me.)

Bruce Reyes-Chow, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA)

Here’s my basic question: Why are we okay with commodities moving freely across the border (via NAFTA) and not okay with PEOPLE moving freely across the border?

Very few people, neither the so-called conservative nor so-called liberals, are seriously asking WHY people are crossing the border from Latin American into the United States. Perhaps because if the question WAS asked, the answer would be a little self-condemning. The United States has long-pushed for international trade laws that severely damage the economies of Latin America.

First, we knock down the borders for TRADE (but not for people), so that companies based in the United States can set up plants in Mexico and reap the benefits of lower wages for workers and fewer laws supporting workers’ rights. And because of what capitalism inherently is, the value of a worker’s labor is transferred into commodities and profits, which in this case both flow into the United States. If the value of labor, as transferred into commodities and profits, actually stayed in the country (Mexico, etc.), then Latin American countries wouldn’t be in such incredible debt and poverty. (To make matters worse, Mexican corn farmers are forced into these factory jobs when US-government-subsidized corn is sent to Mexico and sold for LESS than the local corn. Such “free trade” puts the local farmers out of business.)

Click to read an excellent article about the terrifying obstacles faced by women and men trying to reach the United States from Latin America

But a second step is essential for making this system work: Strong National Borders. The workers have to be forced to stay in the country that has low wages and weak labor laws. Otherwise, the profits can’t be as large for the international corporations, because, for example, Mexican factory laborers could travel to the United States and vote to change the laws affecting the US-based corporation owning their factory. (They could force the company to pay higher wages, etc.) Strong national borders essential amount to forcing the (wage) slaves to stay on the plantation and live in shacks, while the master lives in the mansion. I’m not exaggerating. The slave system in the Southeastern USA was merely a simpler form of modern-day capitalism: Concentrated wealth at the expense of the majority.

Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, who wrote the law

So, back to my question: Why are people crossing the border into the United States? Because we have the commodities and profits from their labor. The vast majority of immigrants are poor workers looking for jobs, because even the exploitative jobs and living conditions in the United States are better than what’s being offered outside our borders. It’s the modern-day equivalent of running away from the slave plantation.

The question for Christians is: Will we be abolitionists of exploitative labor, conductors on the underground railroad, or will we be the slaveholders and their supporters? Historically, Christians have stood on both sides of this fence, or should I say ‘border’.

"Christ of Maryknoll" by Robert Lentz, who asks, " The icon does not make clear which side of the fence Christ is on. Is he imprisoned or are we?"


Confederate History Month….

I can barely contain the rage I have felt because of these recent remarks.

This simply goes to show that today’s white leaders (or at least leading white male Republicans) seem to have never learned anything true about the Civil War. And why would they have? They grew up in segregated schools, in societies where white supremacy was the celebrated norm! Apparently, these norms haven’t changed!

Wake the hell up. Here’s our “heritage”:

If you want to get the basics of the “Confederate History” heritage crap prattled by Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, go here: http://theweek.com/article/index/201787/Haley_Barbours_slavery_remarks_Do_they_matter_for_diddly

Here’s an excellent editorial in the Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/12/AR2010041203297.html

Pastors create model for “struggling” churches

I found this story on the Mississippi UMC website, about a church that transitioned INTO a community social service agency that actually helped meet the basic needs of the community. Story here: Pastors create model for struggling churches. The church/agency’s website: http://www.joininghandsmission.org/.

My critique of the news story is how this transition is billed a model for “struggling” churches instead of simply ALL churches.

No church sanctuary should sit empty for six days a week. People are hungry, sick, thirsty, and living homeless. The church must become a home for these people every day of the week. If your church is not a home for the outcasts, then it’s an empty shell with nothing inside, particularly not God.

NYTimes Op-Ed – We Still Don’t Hear Dr. King

Op-Ed Columnist – We Still Don’t Hear Dr. King – NYTimes.com.

Read this short op-ed piece by Bob Herbert. It’s honest, and it deals with the fact that we are in wars that STILL are not questioned or mentioned or protested by the vast majority of our country. On this day when we remember the death of a young man who was publicly executed by the state two thousand years ago, will we remember the young people we are sending NOW to fight wars we have no reason to continue?

Our leaders are utter and total cowards, with no moral compass that we can measure. Our people are totally confused, thinking it’s the government that has caused all of the problems when the bankers are even more to blame. Our Christians have no idea what it means to call peacemakers “blessed”.

The crucifixions never end.

Miss. school cancels prom over same-sex couple | The Clarion-Ledger

Brad = Pissed Off. Warning: Capitalized letters below.

Newsflash: It’s socially marginalizing to be gay in high school. Adding fuel to the fire, the Itawamba County Agricultural High School canceled the senior prom to avoid having two young women bring each other as dates. I don’t know what the hell they’re so scared of.

Oh wait, she was going to wear a tuxedo. And we all know that women look better in tuxedos that men do. Sorry to discriminate, but it’s true. (I have a small crush on Ellen DeGeneres. Sorry Kathleen.) Those school board officials just couldn’t handle that. You gotta’ stick to your assigned gender roles, people! If you don’t do that, how are us white dudes going to stay in charge!?! We need ORDER!

A picture of what is detroying all that is right and decent.

Here’s a quote by the young women in Itawamba, from the Clarion-Ledger article. Don’t let the high-school talk distract you:

“Oh, my God. That’s really messed up because the message they are sending is that if they have to let gay people go to prom that they are not going to have one,” she said. “A bunch of kids at school are really going to hate me for this, so in a way it’s really retaliation.”

Miss. school cancels prom over gay controversy | clarionledger.com | The Clarion-Ledger.

Back to me: Notice her observation. “It’s really RETALIATION.” She’s making a wise and prophetic observation here, a SYSTEMIC analysis. The school board is PUNISHING her for being gay by canceling the prom, therefore making all the kids at school hate her and treat her poorly.

Here’s the kicker: This proves that BEING A QUEER IS A THREAT TO THE STATUS QUO, and that’s AWESOME. Powerful people find queer sexuality a threat to the worldview that keeps them in power. Otherwise, they wouldn’t give a damn. The task at hand is banding radicals together to support each other in the work of liberation. I wonder if there’s a radical person that we could rally around… someone of high moral character who confronted socially powerful people while also bringing good news to the marginalized… someone willing to lay down their life for the cause… let me know if you think of anyone.

The social abuse and orphanage of gay teenager is a giant systemic evil in our society. This is why we need a theology of young liberation. Someone should write their master’s thesis on that.

Supreme Corp | The Daily Show

Here’s an excellent piece the Daily Show did, featuring John Oliver, on the ability of corporations to spend freely in self-made advertising for or against candidates. Because corporations have been given the same rights as people in this country, to deny them the ability to spend millions on advertising is thought to impinge upon their free speech. Ah, the United States… a country that once considered people property is now giving property (in the guise of corporations) the privileges of personhood. Our national heritage is a legacy of idiocy and greed: “Oligarchy today, oligarchy tomorrow, oligarchy forever!”

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