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Christian Nationalism vs. the Syrian Refugees

The Paris attacks on 11/13 were hardly concluded before the first cries for excluding refugees from Europe and the U.S were shouted. The tragedy is clear to those who know the politics and goals of the Islamic State, the fascist organization responsible for the attack. Like so many western chauvinists and nationalistic goons in this country and throughout Europe, ISIS have an antipathy to the Syrians fleeing their homelands. Why? Because these are the people the Islamic State intends to rule, once it’s finished decimating their homes and communities. The interests of western nationalists are neatly aligned with those of ISIS: IS wishes to keep their prisoners hostage and the U.S is glad to keep its own borders sealed off to those fleeing.

One might wonder why it is these red-blooded Americans are so comfortable siding with the Islamists they claim are their archenemies, but when analyzing their justifications it becomes clear: It’s not about opposing IS, but supporting American supremacy. IS represents a threat to that supremacy and so they must be eliminated. But then wouldn’t they oppose IS’s goal of herding-in the would-be refugees? No, because the refugees are also a danger to American sovereignty.

The irony in that position is so thick that many media talking heads are now remarking on it. Why would Christians oppose allowing in those in need? The analogy to Christ is ripe for the picking. Mary and Joseph, much like today’s Syrians, were Middle Easterners traversing a hostile and bloody political climate and required shelter.

So why refuse the refugees shelter? Because they are a danger to your “sovereignty”? The message of the New Testament, however much I loathe so passionately much within it, is one of forgiveness and sacrifice. What would cause America’s conservative Christians to avoid even paying lip service to caring for Syrian refugees? The answer is that nationalism is a far more demanding, forceful, and monomaniacal religion than that of Christianity.

While the God of Christianity certainly demands worship, at its core Christianity is more than that. It is a set of doctrines, of commandments, of rituals. While the nation-state certainly has its own commands and pageantry, its essential message is far more singular: The protection of national interests precedes all other considerations. Threats and opposition to the national interest, even by God himself, are to be squashed at all costs. Notice also that, like many a revealed religion, the nation demands faith in an entity beyond contact by its adherents. It is the nation that matters, but a nation we never see. The nation is not your community, or your flag, or your armies, your cultural traditions, your judicial system, your politicians, your beaming pride for it. The nation is a phantasm, something we are assured not only exists independent of us, but that exists with our interests in mind.

The irony climaxes with a program initiated by the Satanic Temple to protect Muslims in this country during a time of otherwise immense American hostility to their  presence. While many American-Christians haven’t let the more totalitarian faith of nationalism get in the way of expressing concern for refugees, I fear they are sickeningly outnumbered.

Where is Christ when Caesar arrives for his tribute? He is kneeling, as he said he would, in spite of those lofty ideals of compassion and healing for the poor and less fortunate among us. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, but  especially within the context of the modern nation-state. The compassion for the oppressed that Christians so boldly proclaim has, yet again, been shown to be a bauble — a cheap and common trinket of claimed empathy and concern that buckles at the demands of their true, earthly rulers. This religion has convinced them that they are not rulers, and that they are not giving up anything, but remaining loyal to country as God has apparently commanded of them. It’s unsurprising this servile nationalist creed has neutered Christian concerns for the needy.

Perhaps an even sicker twist to all this is that the Syrian refugees are not even asking for the compliance of Americans, but for their peaceful neutrality. They ask to be allowed to come and live among us. This is not a request which requires compassion, but merely respect for the individual — an acknowledgment of their right to live where they please. Instead, far from remaining neutral, Christians don the Red, White, and Blue and proceed to hiss at the idea that their nation is just for anyone. It is only for the few, for the people who can show their dedication to the nation, which is why even people open to allowing in refugees propose that we “vet” them. It’s said by Constitutionalists that the vetting and testing process is a violation of religious liberty and free speech. But they too show their loyalty to the nation and its religious documents.

We must allow in refugees without first dissecting their loyalties, regardless of what the Constitution has to say in the matter. The vetting process is a sickening violation of individual autonomy — an attempt by the state to inflict on “outsiders” Americanism and demands for conformity, all before they’re allowed to continue living their lives.

Let’s move past the religion of American nationalism, and beyond all ideologies that demand our loyalty to faraway unseen masters. Such commitments poison our humanitarian ideals. Erase all borders and burn the texts of the political religion known as nationalism.



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