President, Politics & Principled Religion

On Christianity, Other Religions, Excusing Trump, and Basic Goodness

The Lord Jesus Christ was very clear that personal character and integrity are vitally important, and that one’s character, for good or bad, will plainly show in how they live out their lives on a daily basis and especially in what “grows” out from their lives:

The good person brings good things out of a good treasure, and the evil person brings evil things out of an evil treasure… for the tree is known by its fruit. I tell you, on the day of judgement you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.’ (Matthew 12. 33, 35 – 37)

So there is simply no justification for any Christian to excuse evil and wickedness, even if the perpetrator of such wickedness is somehow, to some extent benefiting them. Sin is sin, and evil is evil, and Christians are responsible before God to recognize such, and to “call a spade a spade.” Period. To do otherwise is in itself an abomination to the Lord.

ProphetIsaiahThe holy Scriptures of Judeo-Christianity are abundantly clear in God’s indictment of those who call good evil and evil good, of those who wink at sin and try to justify wickedness. Consider just one of the many proverbs of wise Solomon: “One who justifies the wicked and one who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the Lord.” (Proverbs 17.15) However, it is, perhaps, the warning of the Prophet Isaiah that strikes the deepest and most poignantly:

Ah, you who drag iniquity along with cords of falsehood, who drag sin along as with cart-ropes… Ah, you who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Ah, you who are wise in your own eyes, and shrewd in your own sight! Ah, you who are heroes in drinking wine and valiant at mixing drink, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of their rights! Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble, and as dry grass sinks down in the flame, so their root will become rotten, and their blossom go up like dust; for they have rejected the instruction of the Lord of hosts, and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 5.18, 20 – 24)

Of course, the Prophet Malachi was equally clear, if not quite as provocative, yet his particular warning is quite appropriate for professing Christians who continue to blindly support Donald Trump and defend his ongoing, multifarious acts of vile wickedness:

You have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet you say, ‘How have we wearied him?’ By saying, ‘All who do evil are good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them.’ (Malachi 2. 17)

And this is precisely where so many white, evangelical Protestants, as well as white, conservative Catholics, find themselves today. Not only do they continue to unabashedly support Trump and defend him, they actually go the extra mile in claiming Trump and his words and actions are “good in the sight of the Lord.” And there simply is no question regarding the eventual fate of such pretended-believers, pseudo-Christians: “Their root will become rotten, and their blossom go up like dust.”

Of course, Trump claims to be Christian, yet he seems not to be familiar with the several re warning in God’s holy Word about lying, deceit, treachery, self-aggrandizement and so much more. Such as the sharp warning given by David in the 52nd Psalm:

You are plotting destruction. Your tongue is like a sharp razor, you worker of treachery. You love evil more than good, and lying more than speaking the truth. You love all words that devour, O deceiver. But God will break you down for ever; he will snatch and tear you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living. (Psalm 52. 2 – 5)

Perhaps, though, he is still to “young” a Christian, as some evangelical leaders have claimed in excusing all of his glaring faults and failings and shortcomings and misdeeds, but then … they bear the brunt of guilt for not having held Trump accountable, for not having provided guidance and direction for his growth and maturation in the Christian faith, for not having opposed clearly vile, nefarious words and actions of this President. And they have no excuse.

HinduPrayer

Furthermore, and along the same lines where Trump is concerned, “better is a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king, who will no longer take advice, (Ecclesiastes 4. 13) and if anyone loves righteousness, her labors are virtues; for she teaches self-control and prudence, justice and courage; nothing in life is more profitable for mortals than these.” (Book of Wisdom 8. 7) And, no, Trump does not fit this bill, so that even if he is – somehow, beyond all reasonable comprehension, in some vague sense, Christian – he most certainly is not an effective leader, and can never be expected to be an effective and beneficial leader in his current state, his very nature being what it is in its quite deplorable, destructive condition.

And the major religions of the world recognize the same basic life principles requisite not only to being a good leader, but just to live a truly wholesome, healthy, happy life, to wit:

Under the sway of strong impulse, the man who is devoid of self-control willfully commits deeds that he knows to be fraught with future misery. But the man of discrimination, even though moved by desires, at once becomes conscious of the evil that is in them, and does not yield to their influence… (Srimad Bhagavatam 11.7 from Hinduism)

And from Buddhism:

It is little harm if one loses money in gambling with dice, even losing everything, including oneself; but if one bears ill-will towards well-conducted ones it is greater harm indeed. Insulting men of real worth, bearing ill-will in thought and speech, leads to eons upon eons in the states of misery. (Sutta Nipata 658-60)

All of these basic life principles are really self-apparent … except to the one who is foolish or wicked or both, which is often the case. But let’s hear one more teaching that so perfectly applies to Donald Trump, this time from the sacred Scriptures of Islam:

There are three characteristics of a hypocrite: when he speaks, he lies; when he makes a promise, he acts treacherously; and when he is trusted, he betrays. (Hadith of Muslim)

CelticSymbolForPurity

And with this much said, we will be content, especially since the point is well-made: There is no excusing the overt sin and wickedness of Donald Trump, no defending him with any sense of real moral integrity, no continual supporting of him by professed Christians apart from abject hypocrisy. And this last sin is especially egregious for those self-same “Christians,” who not only failed to extend “the grace card” even once to our previous President, Barack Obama, but actually attacked and vilified him more than any other President in the history of our country … even though he consistently proved himself to be of upstanding character and integrity, and not one scandal was attached to him during his entire eight years as President.

One final note: The result of ¾ of conservative, white, evangelical Protestants (and their white, conservative counterparts in the American Catholic Church) will sooner than later be the speedy decline and near-death of evangelical Christianity in the United States, and very possibly everywhere else in the world. And tragically, they will only realize this when it is far, far too late to do anything about it … except to lie down in their own self-dug graves.

I Need ‘Reeducation Camp’ to Correct My Perspective!

Dare to Question Trump? One Supporter Would Lock You Up for Reorientation

I have known for a bit over two years now that Donald Trump scrapes the bottom of the barrel simply as a matter of everyday, ordinary life. This is and has always been his nature, to wit: that of an ethnocentric, chauvinistic, megalomaniac only interested in advancing his own interests, no matter who it hurts, and generally intent on getting his way in everything, everyday no matter how big or small.

Trump supporters are another case. At first, I really believed most of his supporters were basically ill-informed Never-Hillary Clinton voters, i.e. they simply refused to vote for Clinton, no matter what the alternative. After his first six to eight months in office, though, I began to realize Trump supporters were actually devotees, but I still held out some hope that they might, in certain cases, at least be reasonable.

To the contrary, however, avid Trump supporters, now dubbed “Trumpians,” simply grew more and more devoted and, consequently, increasingly blinded to any and all faults of their President. Eventually, they reached the point of no return, not even daring to question any of his statements and/or actions. To diehard Trumpians, their leader, much like a cult ruler, must always be right … perfect, in fact.

Yesterday, though, I was astounded ~ and, yes, it’s evidently possible for me to still be surprised by Trumpians ~ when one FB association and staunch, intransigent Trump supporter actually responded to my perspective on the Ukraine scandal and, more specifically, Joe and Hunter Biden and their (in his mind) alleged culpability in the whole mess by saying:

If you think the ___________ narrative even approximates the truth, then you need a re-education camp. You’re supporting nonsense…

Ahhh! Reeducation camp??? The only instances in history where you read or hear this terminology is from within totalitarian regimes, i.e. Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, Maoist China, Cuba, etc. Yet here is one alt-right Trump supporter so blind in his loyalty to Trump that he actually went so far as to claim that someone ~ namely me ~ who disagrees with the statements, actions and propaganda of our current POTUS ought to be condemned to a reeducation camp!

TrumpCultIs there any longer any serious question that we now have present in American society a dangerous, socio-political cult centered upon Donald Trump? I think not, and it’s not only lamentable, it is also very frightening. How far will those so blinded by nefarious, hell-spawn lies and propaganda go? There’s no telling, but if history is any indication then actual violence may very well be in the offing. (And really, one could very well argue that alt-right, white supremist Trumpians have already committed acts of violence … numerous times!)

To top off this shocker, after I shared this in a primary post on my FB page, and responded appropriately, another Trumpian, whom I’ve known for umpteen years, actually jumped into the comment section lamenting that I’d become “so negative,” informing me she was sorely disappointed in me. What!!! And not one word about her fellow-Trumpian’ s remark about sending me to a reeducation camp. And I suppose that comment was not at all negative? Well, blind is blind and this is the unfortunate, tragic position of those imprisoned within a cult, religious or political or both.

And so, what now? Can these folks, these alt-right Trumpians, be somehow rescued? Made to see once again the truth of reality? Ah, but that’s just the problem, you see. I’ve come to realize that many, if not most, of these people have never actually had a good grasp on reality. Rather they’ve lived in a mostly white, Anglo-Saxon, evangelical, Protestant bubble, where until historically quite recently they’ve been quite safe and secure, unthreatened because they were in the majority and mostly calling the shots.

American society has drastically changed over the last two to three decades, though, and deep inside they’ve had to come to terms with the fact that they’re no longer in the driver’s seat, thus their deeply felt-need for Trump: loud-mouthed, crass, dictatorial bully (and buffoon), who promises to cater to all of their wants and wishes, even turning back the historical clock to a time when America was “their country.” And this is patently obvious in the way they speak, often referring to “saving our country.”

Later on, in another defense of Trump, the same alt-right intransigent supporter simply excused the President’s wrongdoing straight across the board, charging:

 Stop being naïve; this is the way it’s always worked… It’s how the game is played. Get over it!

Oh really? Just get over it? Get over my own country, this wonderful constitutional democracy, being taken over by a fascist megalomaniac and his radical, dangerous cult followers? Uh … hell no!!!

Trumping O’er X-tian Hypocrisy: An American Lamentation

Hating, race-baiting, berating any opposition, skating on thin moral ice,
How nice to be so religiously hypocritical in belittling all but their own,
Looking down long, pious, self-righteous noses with arrogant pretention
While supporting an ineloquent melomaniac bent on sole domination
In complete self-service underpinned by nothing more than buffoonery
Filled with humiliating poltroonery only matched by a pathetic dupery
That can only fool blind, foolish followers and those who stand to gain
But lose their souls in the process, dragging Christ into the filthy gutter
Of bigotry, nationalism, ill-dignity, and inhumane, dogmatic absolutism
Birthed in the pits of hell, not born from the life of the Nazarene savior,
Who lived among the poorest of the poor as an outcast, and downcast,
Cut down in his prime by soldiers and politicians and religious leaders,
Who looked much the same as these modern villains of our own time,
But when the cosmic clock chimes midnight for the world in its plight,
Then an heavenly light will brightly shine upon the nefarious deeds
Of pretended Christians who allowed one man to trump all conviction
Of love and grace from above, as well as all duty to the beauty of truth
In service to God, neighbor and strangers, community and country too,
Is there anything to do now to undo the wreckage of their lunacy,
Of their mad, self-centered absurdity with all of its detestable hubris?
If there is a God in heaven he will surely leaven judgment with mercy
For our sake, who cry neath ecclesial chains, waiting for a new dawn
In place of the false one that now occupies the presidential palace …

Race and Violence: An American Matter

Monday Musings

While the President resists being labelled “racist,” his own record and spoken words militate against him. This being the case, no one should hesitate to accuse where these accusations are factual, and no one should hesitate to hold the President accountable for his hand in racially, ethnically motivated, alt-right violence. No one ought to be shy in condemning him for adding fuel to prejudicial, bigoted, hate-filled ideas and perspectives, thoughts and feelings and beliefs.

Conversely, no one should stand in his defense, and only those who are themselves ethnocentric bigots and crazed nationalists (which is fundamentally different than patriotism) will, in fact, defend him.  And it is, indeed, a very sad day in the United States when millions of people do just that in defending the morally indefensible. And yet racism never really died in this country; it simply went underground … kind of, sort of. Now because of one man nationalism, bigotry and masochism are acceptable.

Well, at least these perspectives and attitudes have once again become openly acceptable is some quarters of America. Tragically, we are witnessing the fear-and-hate-driven resurrection of white supremacy, and the fear comes most obviously from the increasing numbers of the non-white population in this nation. Put simply, many conservative white folks are simply afraid of being taken over. And isn’t it interesting that this same group always refers itself to “our nation” or “our country?”

This is their convinced belief, though, that the United States is really, in some special sense, their country. As if African, Latino, Oriental and Native Americans have no claim on America. And it doesn’t matter that the Indigenous peoples were here long before Europeans began to settle North America (and Central and South America, too, for that matter.) It doesn’t seem to matter that most African Americans can trace their roots in this country back to a time well before the ancestors of most Caucasians came over.

Of course, for most of the history of the United States this nation was predominantly mastered by white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants (pejoratively called WASPs.) And in fact, the majority of the population fit into this mould, with the exception, perhaps, of predominantly Catholic Maryland and predominantly Mormon Utah. We might also add Massachusetts as being heavily Catholic in the 20th century. So when these people shout, “make America great again,” they actually mean make America white Protestant again.

This is, indeed, very sad and quite indefensible, yet this is precisely what we are facing today. This is the monster that’s finally crawled back out from under the bed. The old bones of white supremacy and nationalism have been fleshed again by the man who currently occupies the Oval Office. God have mercy and help us! Two years has already been too long, and we have to somehow survive the next two when, hopefully, voters will overwhelmingly make a better choice for President.

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Defending the Dream: A Political Poem

So many came some time ago with nothing to show,

But they paid the price and stayed and made a life,

Working their fingers to the bone, and cold as stone

To hone so many skills needed and they succeeded,

And so too were children born without any scorn

Only to be torn in two to please the arrogant few

Who mistake this country for their very possession

To an exclusion of differences, an expulsion of color,

And all that makes our nation great, now for hate,

And will we stand idly by and watch dreams die?

No, we’ll hold on tight and fight for what is right!

 


Read More: Create A Just Immigration System

Crisis, Constitution, and Bible Classes

It is an attempted power grab, no two ways about it, and no one should really be surprised that President Trump actually went ahead by declaring a national emergency at our southern border. What should, perhaps, surprise us is that the Republican Party is almost completely silent, if not complicit, with this unconstitutional move. And, no, the 1976 National Emergencies Act does not give the President the authority to do what he is attempting. As the Brennan Center for Justice pointed out recently, nearly all cases of declared emergencies have involved foreign governments, outside terroristic threats, and gross human rights violations, never the President of the United States circumventing funds already appropriated by Congress and signed into law by the Executive Branch.

Of course, one could argue the finer points of the law, and sooner than later the Courts will decide the proper interpretation and possible application of the National Emergencies Act, which will in all likelihood make its way to the Supreme Court where we can only hope and pray a majority of Justices are faithful enough to the Constitution, not to mention frightened enough by the prospect of giving the President so much power, that they will rule Trump’s attempted move illegal. In the meantime, we might ask some simple but very sensible questions about all this … questions that, really, any good Republican should be asking him/herself right now, such as:

  1. Why did President Trump fail to get his billions of dollars in border wall funding during his first two years of office when the GOP controlled both chambers of Congress, especially if it was so imperative?
  2. When Trump did not receive adequate funding for the Wall, why did he not declare a national emergency in 2017 or 2018? Did this “national emergency” just suddenly arise in 2019, after the Democrats took back control of the House? Hmmm …. suspicious at best.
  3. If there really is a national emergence at the southern border, where’s the proof? No, we mean good, solid evidence rooted in reality, which begs the question: Why is illegal immigration at a nearly 50-year low if there really is a crisis along the Mexican border?
  4. Does this crisis primarily have to do with narcotics and other contraband? But studies and reports have consistently shown that most illegal drugs come into the United States through legal ports of entry… So how does this allow President Trump to declare a national emergence along our southern border?

The most important question I have for Republicans ~ and I’m really kind of frightened I even have to ask this ~ is, “Why in the world would you stand idly by and allow, if not support, any President so obviously circumventing the Constitution? Why would you … how could you support someone striking at the very balance of power we have enjoyed in our country since its foundation? Do you not realize that this sort of action threatens to erode the very foundation of our nation?”

We can only hope and pray the challengers to Trump’s power grab are successful, that they prevail. Even back in the 1930s, good ole FDR had to be challenged for his own attempted power grab, and he was … and his challengers were, thankfully, successful. However, bear in mind that many of his challengers were, as a matter of fact, from his own party. Sadly, this is seemingly not the case today!

Bible in the Classrooms?

Some states evidently have proposals on the table to offer Bible classes in public schools. Proponents offer all kinds of arguments for doing this, such as: Judeo-Christian Scriptures contain good teaching to which children need to be exposed, especially in character development. Also, the Bible constitutes some of the great literature of the world, and it has also been an integral part of the history and heritage of the United States.

Besides all this, the Bible class would only be offered as an elective, not as a requirement, so parents should not be offended because their children would not be forced into religious instruction. So there should presumably be no problem, and President Trump is evidently all for it … and at this point we might make the salient observation that he himself could use a good class or two in biblical competency! At any rate, the real question is: Would this be a good idea assuming it is not ultimately deemed unconstitutional. (And, of course, if state legislatures pass bills for Bible classes, even as electives, there will be court challenges.)

Well, there are probably many objections. For instance: Why offer an elective in the Bible and not, say, the Qur’an? Or the Upanishads? Or the Bhagavad Gita? Or the Analects of Confucius? One can easily argue that these religious writings also comprise part of the world’s great literature, and that they offer good teachings conducive to character development. Of course, they have not, perhaps, played a major role in the history and heritage of America, yet it is also true that many of these important spiritual/religious works were studied by educated Americans as part of a classical education, including many (if not most) of the Founding Fathers. (Both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, for example, had personal copies of the Qur’an.)

But one additional concern, fairly simple and straightforward, is the question of just who would write the curriculum, and who would actually teach the class. Imagine offering a Bible class in southeast Alabama created by, say, Paulist Press and taught by the local, Roman Catholic priest! This would not go over at all, of course, even if the class were an elective and even if the priest received no monetary compensation. Most folks in this area of the country just would not put up with it, their attitude being: “How dare you when the overwhelming majority of us are Southern Baptists, and we don’t believe in prayers to Mary and the saints, the real presence of Christ in Holy Communion, etc. etc.!” So you see, this could be a problem: Who would end up teaching these classes?

Personally, I would not really object to a comparative world religions class offered as an elective to, maybe, juniors and seniors with curriculum produced by, say, MacMillan or Oxford and taught by an astute PhD in Religion (with said PhD eared from a fully-accredited institution of higher learning.) Such a course would possibly further expose students to the various cultures and belief systems of the Earth, which could be very helpful, indeed … especially since we live here in the “melting pot of the world.”

We Have Come Too Far: A Villanelle Poem

Lightening truth will strike the soul through and through,
For we have come too far to turn back now to bow so low,
And we’ll not forget these lessons we have come to know

As flaunting terror haunts from whitened house of power,
We will not cower while we freely let loving peace flow,
For we have come too far to turn back now to bow so low

Child refugees walk across the land as wandering bands
With no helping hands as we recall we’re part of the show,
And we’ll not forget these lessons we have come to know

Anger from up on high has raised danger in heated streets
Where heartbeats race to slow to embrace mercy’s glow,
For we have come too far to turn back now to bow so low

Younger eyes hunger for freedom, food and some shelter
In this helter-skelter world, hoping for a better tomorrow,
And we’ll not forget these lessons we have come to know

Lightening truth will strike the soul through and through
Creating a beautiful view of the future so poignantly true,
For we have come too far to turn back now to bow so low,
And we’ll not forget these lessons we have come to know


Note: A villanelle (also known as villanesque) is a nineteen-line poetic form consisting of five tercets followed by a quatrain. There are two refrains and two repeating rhymes, with the first and third line of the first tercet repeated alternately until the last stanza, which includes both repeated lines. The villanelle is an example of a fixed verse form.

One Mall, Three Groups: Who’s to Blame?

So who is to blame for the raucous, divisive incident at the National Mall involving three very different groups: white, male Covington Catholic High School students, members of the radical Black Hebrew group, and/or the Indigenous Peoples, who were present to march for world peace? The media and commentators have been all over this story, which is, unfortunately, emblematic of the disunity and dissention in the United States today, and which tragically occurred the very weekend before we reverently remembered the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

First off, let me say unequivocally that no matter who “started it,” the very adult Black Hebrews ought to be held accountable for their incendiary, vulgar shouts and taunts at the high schools students, and should even be held legally accountable for any and all threats made against those boys, (and we are, after all, talking about minors.) There is simply no excuse for calling high school boys “incest babies” and other gross names, and threatening to “harvest the organs” of an African American student. And, by the way, where is the outrage over this?

Second, though, the chaperones of the Covington Catholic High School boys are culpable in all this if for no other reason than the fact that they failed to move the students away from the situation, that is, away from the Black Hebrews. Where were they, anyway, and what were they thinking? Mature, levelheaded adults would have removed the boys some reasonable distance from the vulgar, incendiary group and then surrounded them as a kind of protective barrier. This is, after all, the sort of thing chaperones are supposed to do, yet these boys were left to basically choose their own course.

Third, where the students themselves are concerned, instead of backing away from the Black Hebrews, they formed a semi-circle around them, began chanting “school spirit” chants (ostensibly, at least), hooping and hollering and jumping up and down… One young man even ripped off his shirt and started doing a kind-of-sort-of-whatever “dance,” much to the amusement of his classmates. None of this served to diffuse the situation at all, and even the junior, Nick Sandmann, whose image we see smiling, or smirking, at Mr. Phillips said as much in his interview on the Today Show. 

Fourth, when Mr. Phillips and the other Indigenous Peoples entered between the two groups ~ the Black Hebrews and Covington Catholic High ~ Sandmann and his classmates should have simply turned and walked away some distance. Again, even Sandmann now says as much … but they didn’t do this. Instead, the junior stood his ground in order to show Mr. Phillips that he was not going to be, in his words, “provoked” or “intimidated.” What??? No viewing of any of the video footage would lead anyone to believe that Mr. Phillips was attempting to provoke or intimidate.

Besides, when did it become appropriate for some young, wet-behind-the-ears, whipper-snapper to stand his adolescent ground in front of an adult, Marine veteran? No “if, ands or buts” about it, this was just plain disrespectful, but again, where were the chaperones? Yes, these students had been subjected to an hour-long (at least) barrage of insults from the Black Hebrews, but when Mr. Phillips intervened they had yet another opportunity to back off to some safer place. Instead they directed their hooping and hollering, now with offensive tomahawk chops, toward the Indigenous Peoples. Wow … Just wow!

Finally, who in the world was stupid enough to allow students to wear any political clothing or paraphernalia to a Right to Life march? Of all the important issues in the world, one would think the Sanctity of Life is one that does not need to be politicized … at least not more than it already has been. Aside from the fact that many, many people consider MAGA hats (and shirts and whatever) to be offensive for a variety of reasons, why would any religious school allow its students to display/advertise politics on or at the school and school functions? Just enforce a non-descript, uniform dress code!

Well, I will say at least one more thing about all this, which is a broader point and, perhaps, a take-away lesson, and that is: Perhaps young people should not be carted to state capitals and D. C. for marches and demonstrations. Yes, it’s important for high school students to learn about civics, history, the political process, etc. but maybe they’re not quite mentally and emotionally developed enough to actually be directly involved? Or at least if they are, then they really should be held to the same standards as adult participants… No pass for the stupidity of youth!

Peace in the Middle

Lady Liberty cries as angry words fly and malice stains the palates
Of youth untaught in the ways of grace when coming face to face
With elder glory in story boldly told in chanting prayer for peace,
And yet on the other side another mob from another world of hate,
Who throw out the bait by taunting, vaunting their own religiosity
In some monstrosity of twisted history with apocalyptic prophecy,
While one veteran man stands in the gap to quell the rising storm
As the foundations are being shaken to awaken our sleeping souls

Beyond Washington, What Do the Locals Say About the Border ‘Crisis?’ Part II

In yesterday’s “Beyond Washington, What Do the Locals Say About the Border ‘Crisis?’” we looked at what New Mexico and Arizona residents, local papers, and Border Patrol officials have to say about the President’s proposed Wall and the alleged “crisis” at our shared border with Mexico. Today, let’s at least glance at the State of Texas, especially since POTUS just visited there to drum up support for the Wall, and see if we can get at least a bird’s eye view of what the situation looks like from there.

President Trump visited the city of McAllen, Texas on Thursday, January 10th, to advance his case for his promised Wall along the Southwest border as an essential necessity in combating illegal immigration, especially focusing on drug smuggling and other contraband, terrorism, gangs and other critical problems allegedly tied directly to illegal immigrants crossing over from Mexico. His simple point remains the same as it has since at least 2015: The U. S. needs a wall all along the Mexican border for security.

If this is true, then one might logically expect the fairly elected mayor of McAllen to agree with the President. One might reasonably expect the mayor to fully support the President’s assertion that there is, indeed, a “crisis” at the border … but this is simply not the case. Following Trump’s visit, McAllen’s mayor, Jim Darling, told Time pointblank, “We don’t feel a crisis in our city… We live day to day in a very safe community.”

Darling further pointed out that McAllen is “a vibrant area” and “the safest city in the state of Texas, and we’re right on the border, so that kind of rhetoric,” about crisis, “resonates and sells newspapers, but it hurts our area.” He added the fact that McAllen had “no murders last year in a city of 150,000…” In a city of that size, especially along a border in “crisis,” one would expect things to be grimmer.

Furthermore, Julie Hillrichs, who represents a coalition of border mayors, judges, and other officials, told Time that “the real way to increase security at the border would not be a wall, but increased investment in the legal ports of entry that already exist in their area. ‘We have never supported the wall,” Hillrichs says. “The Border Coalition has consistently over the years stated we believe the wall is a wasted investment.'”

But the Attorney General for Texas, Ken Paxton, claimed fencing along the border in El Paso has helped to substantially reduce crime in that city, which, he further claimed, had previously had one of the highest crime rates in the nation. “After that fence went up and separated Juarez, which still has an extremely high crime rate, the crime rates in El Paso now are some of the lowest in the country,” Paxton said. “So we know it works.”

El Paso may not quite agree, however. In a January 10, 2019, article the El Paso Times investigated the AG’s claim and found that this is simply “not the case.” The paper further, and importantly, explained:

Looking broadly at the last 30 years, the rate of violent crime reached its peak in 1993, when more than 6,500 violent crimes were recorded. Between 1993 and 2006, the number of violent crimes fell by more than 34 percent and less than 2,700 violent crimes were reported. The border fence was authorized by Bush in 2006, but construction did not start until 2008. From 2006 to 2011 — two years before the fence was built to two years after — the violent crime rate in El Paso increased by 17 percent. 

Point in fact, in January 2018, community leaders and law enforcement officials in El Paso credited a number of developments, programs and efforts that have resulted in lowering crime rates … not border fencing. 

Meanwhile, Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz was invited to participate in a roundtable discussion with President Trump during his Thursday visit to McAllen, except it wasn’t really a discussion. Saenz said, following the event, he felt rather “disenfranchised” because he was, quite frankly, not able (or allowed) to make any contributions whatsoever. On Friday, January 11th, the Laredo Morning News reported him saying:

There was a disconnect. Maybe he (Trump) gets information, but really he ought to take into account the border leaders, the mayors and county judges – input that he didn’t get because there was no opportunity for us to provide that information… We need to make our own evaluations locally to come up with the best plan.

The editorial board of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times judge the proposed Wall would be “like setting fire to billions of dollars,” and that “money would be better spent on stronger administration and enforcement at the ports of entry and better technological monitoring of the remote places where Donald Trump envisions a tall physical barrier.” In its December 2018 article, simply concludes that the Wall is “not the solution.”

Once again, seemingly not much support for the Wall, at least along the borders in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Perhaps tomorrow we’ll take a look at California, or more appropriately southern Cal, to gain some local perspective there. So far, though, it seems folks along the border, with the majority of Americans, favor better and tighter border security, but by other more effective means than a wall.