Abrasive billionaire Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has introduced virulent xenophobia and discrimination into the mainstream of American politics, rightfully horrifying most reasonable and empathetic people while stoking the flames of populist anger, redirecting the anger and fear incited in voters by overwhelmingly hyperbolic and negative Republican primary towards any demographic group that is not Christian white males.
He has specifically targeted Hispanic migrants fleeing poverty and US-sponsored drug violence in Central America as the source of all of America’s ills, making the construction of an exclusionary border wall as a centerpiece of his campaign. While the American media has been largely content to let Trump continue to propagate these hateful ideas while still somehow appealing to religious conservatives as a “Christian,” the father of the Catholic Church has refused to give him a pass.
Pope Francis just completed a trip through Mexico and up to the U.S. border, where he visited churches and jails, blessing those on both sides of the border and calling for cooperation and unity between people instead of fear and discrimination. When asked about Trump’s desire to shut out hundreds of thousands of migrants – not only from Mexico but those fleeing horrific violence in the Syrian Civil War – Pope Francis soundly denounced him for not being a true Christian: “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.”
It is a poignant critique that can be applied to pretty much the whole Republican primary field, where we are treated to the bizarre sight of the sons of immigrants (Trump from Germany, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio both from Cuba) arguing over who will have a harsher border policy and will deport more “illegal aliens” while simultaneously trying to pass themselves off as moral Christians in a desperate attempt to pander to white evangelicals.
Trump has been criticizing the Pope recently for being “too political,” a charge which his Holiness laughed off. “Thank God he said I was a politician because Aristotle defined the human person as ‘animal politicus. So at least I am a human person. As to whether I am a pawn, well, maybe, I don’t know. I’ll leave that up to your judgement and that of the people.”
Pope Francis is absolutely right – it is a show of disgusting hypocrisy for these men to call themselves Christians merely because they oppose a woman’s right to choose but then actively fight to close our nation’s doors to the needy, to the scared, to those whose nations have been consumed in a hellish vortex of violence. The words on the Statue of Liberty do not mention quotas; they do not mention religious tests; they do not mention green cards. Immigration is what made the United States a superpower; it is our sins that force millions to seek new lives elsewhere, and we cannot tolerate this kind of hatred and xenophobia in our society.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.