The Least, First

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Archive for the ‘Immigration’ Category

“To live now as we think humans should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us…”

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UPDATE: I found some good encouragement in the comments of friends at Clipmarks today, and was reminded of this post from nearly two years ago. Here’s a re-post—’cause we all need hope.


Sometimes I think of the enormity of darkness which our world contains, and find the tragedies involved simply too crushing.

How small I am! How seemingly powerless! I find myself in need of hope.
I found some, today, in the conclusion to Howard Zinn’s 1994 book You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times. If you’re invested in bringing good to your world, perhaps you’ll find these words encouraging.

. . . In 1992, teachers all over the country, by the thousands, were beginning to teach the Columbus story in new ways, to recognize that to Native Americans, Columbus and his men were not heroes, but marauders. The point being not just to revise our view of past events, but to be provoked to think about today.

What was most remarkable was that Indian teachers, Indian community activists, were in the forefront of this campaign. How far we have come from that long period of Indian invisibility, when they were presumed to be dead or safely put away on reservations! They have returned, five hundred years after their near annihilation by invading Europeans, to demand that America rethink its beginnings, rethink its values.

It is this change in consciousness that encourages me. Granted, racial hatred and sex discrimination are still with us, war and violence still poison our culture, we have a large underclass of poor, desperate people, and there is a hard core of the population content with the way things are, afraid of change.

But if we see only that, we have lost historical perspective, and then it is as if we were born yesterday and we know only the depressing stories in this morning’s newspapers, this evening’s television reports. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

July 7, 2008 at 4:06 pm

The Declaration of Independence and human rights

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To commemorate the 4th of July, here’s Declaration of Independence, as published by The Pennsylvania Packet, one of the great Philadelphia newspapers of the day.

According to EarlyAmerica.com:

Congress had appointed a Committee of Five to draft a statement to the world presenting the colonies’ case for independence. The committee consisted of John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Robert R. Livingston of New York and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. The committee assigned Jefferson the task of writing the original document. After minor alterations were subsequently made by Franklin and Adams, the document was submitted to Congress.

Two passages in Jefferson’s draft were rejected by the Congress — an intemperate reference to the English people and a scathing denunciation of the slave trade. Otherwise, the Declaration was adopted without significant change…

Declaration of Independence

In these days of controversy over the treatment of immigrants and the detention of suspected terrorists, perhaps it’s useful to remind ourselves that this founding document of America acknowledges that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  Further, securing those rights – the rights of all, not just citizens – is the reason for which governments “are instituted.”

Nothing could be more American.


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Written by Monte

July 4, 2008 at 10:33 pm

Catonsville Nine: “think less of the law, and more of justice”

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Catonsville NineJesus goes so often to the essence of things, rather than the appearance of them. Sometimes, his followers do, as well.

Forty years ago [May 17, 1968], nine committed followers of Christ entered the Selective Service Office in Catonsville. They moved past three surprised office workers, who questioned what they were doing but did not stop them. The nine quickly gathered 378 1-A draft files in wire baskets, then took them to the parking lot and immolated them with a homemade version of napalm. They prayed quietly over the burning papers until the police arrested them 15 minutes later. […]

The catalyst for this, of course, was the unbelievably brutal war in Vietnam.

By 1968, the Vietnam War was ripping America apart. Our actions seemed insane, our rationales ever shifting, our goal never clear. The impact on Vietnamese society as well as on our troops was confusing, demoralizing and deadly. What was clear, however, was that we were dropping more than 9 million tons of bombs on Indochina’s military and civilian populations. We were dropping 72 million liters of biochemical poisons on the land and its people. And, of course, there was hell’s fire: napalm. We used 400,000 tons of it.

By May 1968, the Catonsville Nine had enough. They chose to directly confront the state, to protest where the nation’s leaders had taken us. […]

Controversial? Of course. These are hard and costly decisions. But some of their argument is persuasively Christ-like:

In a play written by another of the nine, the Rev. Daniel Berrigan, and based upon the trial transcripts of their conviction, his brother Philip argued: “Let lawmakers, judges and lawyers think less of the law, and more of justice; less of legal ritual, more of human rights. To our bishops and superiors, we say: Learn something about the gospel and something about illegitimate power. When you do, you will liquidate your investments, take a house in the slums, or even join us in jail.” […]

Less of the law and more of justice. Less of legal ritual, more of human rights. So relevant today. Such a deeply Christian sentiment, correcting the self-righteousness questions of legality that infect our dialog about so many issues.

Yes, that could be the voice of Jesus.


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I.C.E. raids Postville meat-packer; United Methodist Bishop responds

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From the Des Moines Register:

Agriprocessors plantPostville, Ia. – The phone calls started at 5 a.m. They carried the same message: Immigration was coming.[…] Twelve hours later, Hispanic businesses in downtown Postville were shuttered.[…]

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid at the Agriprocessors Inc. plant scattered the Hispanics of Postville. About 400 found their way to St. Bridget’s Catholic Church, waiting for information. Some filled out G-28 forms that allow a lawyer to represent their detained children or minors in their care.

A woman who would identify herself only as Judy said she and her husband work at Agriprocessors. The last time she saw him was before his shift Monday, about 5:30 a.m. “No, I don’t know where he is,” she said in Spanish.

Judy said she and her husband came from Mexico illegally. Like many others at St. Bridget’s, they regard the church as a haven from law enforcement. Asked whether the church would indeed be a safe place, Sister Mary McCauley of St. Bridget’s said, “That is our belief and hope.” […]

And from Bishop Palmer of the Iowa United Methodist Church, this rather brave— Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

May 15, 2008 at 3:46 pm

The Pope’s beautiful “insult”

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Pope Benedict XVIPope Benedict XVI well illustrated the tension between citizenship in the Kingdom of God and citizenship in a nation of this world. Here’s a lovely summary by Patty Kupfer from God’s Politics:

WSJ: That ‘Insulting’ Pope (by Patty Kupfer)

During his visit last week, Pope Benedict XVI gave a consistent and prophetic call to U.S. Catholics:

I want to encourage you and your communities to continue to welcome the immigrants who join your ranks today, to share their joys and hopes, to support them in their sorrow and trials, and to help them flourish in their new home. This, indeed, is what your fellow countrymen have done for generations. From the beginning, they have
opened their doors to the tired, the poor, the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” These are the people whom America has made her own.

Somehow this beautiful pastoral call Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

April 22, 2008 at 5:35 pm

Race, Obama, and white privilege

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Geraldine FerraroObamaIt is impenetrably difficult for we who are white to see what white privilege has handed us.

Sometimes I wonder if the common white “I am color-blind” outlook really amounts to just plain blindness. For to ignore color is to ignore the elephant in the room: being white is still very different from being non-white in the USA. Self-professed color-blindness, which has such a noble ring to those with the upper hand, may say to non-whites, “I am blind to how the past affects you and me today.”

It may be like saying, “You don’t hurt. If you do, that’s sad, but it has nothing to do with me. For since I bear you no ill will, I am no racist. As far as I’m concerned, we’re equals.”

Perhaps the operant phrase is as far as I’m concerned. Might it mean “My (white) view is the view by which we’ll operate”? Might it be the basis of Geraldine Ferraro’s rage: that her white view of what racism is—something like “harboring ill will toward people of color”—is, to her, the only view that matters?

Might the elements of racism that invisibly color our own outlooks be as pernicious as the more obvious ones we detest in others?

Roger Cohen, in a NY Times opinion piece, writes an eloquent, poignant personal reaction to the Obama race speech. I encourage you to read it all. Here are some excerpts:

Beyond America’s Original Sin

There are things you come to believe and things you carry in your blood. In my case, having spent part of my childhood in apartheid South Africa, I bear my measure of shame. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

March 22, 2008 at 6:29 pm

The One-Semester-of-Spanish Love Song

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Two minutes of humor—

For all who have studied another language, and have known the despair of being unable to say anything important:


¿Y tú, también?


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Written by Monte

March 20, 2008 at 5:30 pm

Posted in humor, Immigration