Christmas Meditation 2002: Christ, The “Other”, And Counterfeit Citizens

I] [II]
[IV] [V]

Also see: War Against
Christmas 2001

[See also:

Christmas Meditation 2001: St Augustine and the
National Question
by Chilton Williamson Jr.]

J.P. Zmirak

[Previously on VDARE.COM by J. P. Zmirak:

Good Fences and Free Markets

Christmas marks the birth
of a universal religion, which reaches across all racial
and cultural boundaries, which transformed a noble
tribal creed into a cosmopolitan Faith. Again and again,
in inspired Scripture, Jesus commands compassion for the
poor, mercy for sinners, and self-sacrifice on behalf of
strangers—even enemies. He conditions eternal salvation
upon one`s kindliness towards the hungry, the naked, the

“least of my brothers.”

Perhaps His birthday is not
the best time of year to discuss border control. One
risks being cast as

Ebenezer Scrooge
, accused of consigning needy aliens
to “prisons and workhouses” with a heartless chuckle.

In Europe, the argument`s a
little easier to make, as the influx of highly fertile
Moslems threatens to fill the emptying cradle of Western

Dissipated Dutchmen

Italian cardinals
alike can see the danger to
Europe`s identity and liberty.

As John Vinson has documented,
in Immigration And
Nation: A Biblical View
, the Old Testament is
replete with commands to the Israelites to preserve
their land and faith from invasion or corruption by
alien peoples and creeds. (Exodus does command us to
“not to vex the stranger” (22:21).
But if you look three lines up, it also says, “You shall
not suffer a witch to live” (22:18). Churchmen have lit
a number of fires over the centuries by applying such
statements literally.)

As a Catholic in America, I
know the chances are good that many of the immigrants we
turn away each year are my co-religionists—that is,
members of my immediate sacramental family. Most of the
priests I see under the age of 60 are immigrants—as are
many of the good people I meet each week at church. As

Philip Jenkins
has argued in

The Next Christendom
, the near future of
Christianity is

undoubtedly in the Southern Hemisphere
—where the
churches continue to grow in numbers and popularity,
despite the effects of technology and globalization and
the moral poison that leaks into them from a
post-Christian West. (I`ve argued in The Atlantic
that Western attempts to impose on
the developing world

population control
and the

sexual revolution
—the two are inseparable—actually
foster social disruption, family breakdown, and outward
migration to the U.S.)

Clergy and bishops—not
just the golf-playing, mitred veal calves who reign
through much of the U.S., but solid, serious,

up for virtually open borders.
They treat as an

“epistle of straw”
the venerable, official Church
teaching that a nation has the right, and hence the
duty, to control its borders. Instead, they favor of a

“embrace of the Other.”

It`s a sentiment I
understand, because I`ve shared it. I`m a cradle
Catholic, but a convert on the National Question.

Even so wise and good a
man as John Paul II (opining fallibly, as Popes can do)
has compared openness to newcomers to openness to life—

conflating immigration restrictionism with abortion.

I prefer to believe that speech was written by an
American employee of the U.S.C.C.—which is ever eager to
establish to anyone who`s

still interested
that the

bishops are not conservatives
(Have you got
that? Write it for homework, a hundred times, then bring
it up and show it to Sister.)

Of course, the American
clergy do oppose abortion, contraception,

,, gay advocacy, and most elements of
American pop culture—but for heaven`s sake don`t call
the bishops conservatives. Someone might confuse
them with the

Southern Baptists
—when, in fact, they want to be
mistaken for Episcopalians.

On any issue that`s not
prescribed for them by recent papal statements, the
bishops lean as far to the left as possible, as if to
counterbalance the immoveable moral traditionalism to
which the Church is irreversibly committed. Which simply
gives cover to squalid post-Catholic degenerates like
Ted Kennedy,
by allowing them to pretend that they
are better advocates of Church social teaching than

So I ask myself: “Do I
really want to emulate those innkeepers who told the
pregnant Virgin they had no room, and sent her to birth
in a stable? Maybe I ought to shut up at this time of
year, and wait for the warm Christmas sentiments to
fade, to spread my crabbed gospel of prudence in sunless

That`s exactly what I`d do,
if open borders really were the most Christian
policy, if I were trying to “get away” with something by
falsifying the Gospel for narrow political purposes—if I
were, let`s say, Frances Kissling, the

abortion peddler who masquerades as a Catholic
Planned Parenthood`s dime. (To be sure, that organization is utterly
shameless—witness its grotesque

“Choice on Earth” cards for Christmas.
What`s next—eugenics
for Kwanzaa?)

But, in fact, a prudent
control of this and any nation`s borders, and a just
enforcement of its citizenship laws, is implied in the
duty of citizens to work for the common good. It is
actually commanded in the Gospel—by Jesus

First, the Bethlehem
story. In St. Luke`s beloved account, what`s really
happening? For one thing, St. Joseph and the Virgin are
not immigrants; in fact, they are

each of royal Jewish birth
, more akin to

Romanovs hiding in Bolshevik Russia
than Afghans
sheltering in Iowa.

They are called to
Bethlehem by a faraway imperial government that has
trampled the liberties of their homeland, to answer a
census—something the Jews abhorred as a mark of hubris
and tyranny, which Yahweh had punished the Kingdom of
Israel for

presuming to conduct.

Did the Holy Family
refuse to follow
this (arguably quite unjust) law?
No, they obeyed it, without recorded complaint. Score
one for respecting the law.

If, as Catholics believe,
Mary never sinned, then it was certainly no sin to
cooperate with an imperial authority as it maintained
control over its subjects—much less with a republic
enforcing its laws.

It`s true that not long
after His birth, St. Joseph, Mary, and Jesus had to flee
Bethlehem to avoid murder at the hands of the deranged
local satrap, King Herod—a

placed over the Jews by their Roman

Where did they go? To the

safe country,
Egypt. Economic opportunities for
carpenters were certainly better elsewhere—for instance,
in Rome, a short trip across the sea. But the Holy
Family did not

abuse their status
as legitimate refugees. They
returned to their impoverished home village as soon as
it was safe.

That`s precisely the
refugee policy proposed by reformers across the
West—safe refuge, followed by safe repatriation—for
which they are soundly thrashed as hatemongers and


The Gospels don`t make much
of Jesus` “hidden life,” so let`s move straight to His
public ministry. What`s the most famous, most powerful
parable told by Christ to His disciples? I`d argue it`s
the tale of the

Good Samaritan
. (A close second would be the tale of

Prodigal Son,
which recounts a son sinfully
abandoning his homeland for better material advantages
in an alien country—then repenting and returning home.
Score one more for growing where you`re planted….)

Here lies the heart of the
Christian ethic: Who is my neighbor, and how should I
treat him? To rankle the Pharisees and make His point
more strongly, Jesus chooses a foreign heretic, a
Samaritan, as the hero of his tale. Let`s take this
seriously, and imagine an illegal Moslem immigrant in
his place. This pious Shiite, living covertly in (let`s
say) Brooklyn, finds an American lying wounded on the
street after a mugging. A priest and a Levite (= a
bishop and a monk) have already walked past, leaving the
man for dead. The foreigner takes the man to an inn,
pays his medical expenses, and cares for him until he
has recovered—serving as a model of human compassion
that mirrors divine love for men.

A beautiful, moving,
shocking story, whose impact I wouldn`t wish to dilute.
Let`s appreciate for a moment what it tells us about
common human nature, the

equal dignity

every human being
who sprang from the hand of God,
and the universal moral law that binds us all. The
meaning of Christmas lies here.

And then let`s move on to
note what does not happen in this story. The hero
of the tale is not a prosperous Israelite who

Samaritans into Israel. He does not lobby
the Romans to allow Parthians, Sarmatians, and Goths to
resettle Judea, so he can hire them for less than native
citizens are willing to accept, or in order to organize
them as a political constituency, to overturn local
customs and laws. He does not take the crime victim in
and nurse him back to health in order put him to work at
illegal wage
. Nor does he ship the man back to
Samaria and force the Samaritans to take care of the man

at their expense.
In other words, the Good
Samaritan`s actions have nothing whatsoever in common
with open-borders advocates of the Left or the Right.
His charity towards the needy Israelite is not
politically motivated, and does not violate any divine
or human law.

The final Gospel narrative
I`d like to address is the most directly pertinent: when
Jesus is asked by Pharisees attempting to trip Him up
whether they ought to pay Roman taxes. Should they
contribute to support of a distant, alien, pagan
government—whose legitimacy was quite arguably dubious.
Does Jesus tell them to cheat on their taxes, to
undermine this occupying power? Does He advocate tax
resistance, or any other form of disobedience, civil or

Well – no. In fact, He
tells the Pharisees to “Render unto Caesar what is
Caesar`s, and unto God what is God`s.”

famous passage
is the starting point for every
Christian reflection on the state. The key question,
which such greats as


, Bellarmine and

de Maistre
, Orestes

John Courtenay Murray
have struggled to resolve,
remains “What is Caesar`s?”

From Jesus` own lips, we
know that this includes at least the right to issue
currency and collect taxes. What other rights must a
rational observer admit belong to the state? It is
inarguable that these include controlling the borders
and regulating the movement of persons into the country.
When Caesar ceased to exercise this right, and masses of
barbarian peoples entered the Empire`s borders too
quickly to be assimilated,

something happened to the Roman Empire: It collapsed

I`d like to press this
analogy a little further, to help show the genuine
entailed in violating (or politically
undermining) the just exercise of immigration law. It`s
hard for many Christians—it once was for me—to see the
sin in letting “just one more” person into the country,
in granting amnesty to just one more wave of existing
illegal migrants. The human dignity of the Other—which
emphatically does include the immigrant—can blind us to
this reality. We need to use a metaphor to make the
matter clear.

I suggest we consider that
enabling illegal immigration amounts to
counterfeiting citizenship,
and is every bit as evil
as counterfeiting currency.

Why is counterfeiting
immoral? Let`s say I have a printing press in my
basement. I can churn out perfect copies of U.S.
currency. But I do not use this for my own benefit. I
distribute the forgeries to the poor.

Who does that harm?
Assuming that the bills are indistinguishable from real
currency, then the merchants who sell these poor folk
food and clothes will not be damaged—nor will anyone who
accepts the bills subsequently, at least not directly. I
might even tithe ten percent of my print-run to the
Church. So what`s wrong with my printing the bills?
Should the Catholic Worker and the
Catholic bishops
get in on my project? We could wipe
out the Third World debt in a matter of weeks. (See the
uproarious Alan Arkin/Peter Falk comedy
“The In-Laws”
for a depiction of just such a plan.)

I think even the
religious Left would agree that I was not rendering unto
Caesar what is his. By seizing control of the currency
from the government, and cheapening the value of every
dollar legitimately earned and traded, I would be
damaging the common good.

Likewise, when we foster
illegal immigration, and legitimize it later through
inevitable amnesties, we are cheapening irreparably the
value of citizenship—a privilege for which thousands of
people have worked and waited patiently, something which
men in the past have

enlisted in the U.S military
and risked their lives
to earn. (That was how the first Zmirak, my grandfather
Patric, earned U.S citizenship during World War I.)

U.S. citizenship, or even
residency, is not a basic human right. It is a limited
good, a precious and scarce commodity—like currency,
except in time of mass inflation. Good capitalists used
to understand the importance of a

sound currency
—which makes it all the more puzzling
that the people at The

Wall Street Journal
don`t understand how irresponsibly they
are behaving when they promote

open borders

They would solve the
illegal immigration question by licensing everyone on
earth to

print U.S. citizenship papers.
Are they really so
blinded by ideology that they can`t see what this would
mean? It`s like turning the Federal Reserve over to the
General Assembly of the United Nations, so that other
countries could inflate the dollar out of existence.


, Mr.

, think:

Imagine wheelbarrows full of U.S.
passports. That is the logical outcome of your blandly
upbeat proposed constitutional amendment:

“There shall be open borders.”

It is not Christian to
degrade the citizenship and undercut the wages of the
native poor, of working class people whose ancestors
paid U.S. taxes and fought in American wars—many of whom
toiled as slaves for centuries, only to receive

after a Civil War, and its full rights
after grinding struggle for civil rights.

It is not Christian to
encourage the social upheaval and political chaos that

multicultural states.

It is not Christian to
attack the common good by allowing the peaceful

of one`s homeland.

Imagine if you can Jesus
Christ, redeemer of man, winking at the Pharisees, and
explaining to them how to produce fake gold coins with
Caesar`s image.

That is the face of the
open-borders Christian.

Merry Christmas – 2002!

Dr. Zmirak is author of

Wilhelm Röpke: Swiss Localist,
Global Economist
. He writes frequently on
economics, politics, popular culture and theology.

December 23, 2002