By Kathy Blalock Molinar
A billboard recently went up in the Dallas suburbs with the line: “Stop Giving Illegals Our Money.” It embodies the dangerous path far too many of our state officials have chosen. It is the stock in trade of congressional officials, like Rep. Pat Fallon, who is more than happy to travel the caravan of outrage media to whip up fears of the border.
And in North Texas, a veritable tinderbox of racial animosity, this spark has fueled the massacres like those in El Paso, and attacks on democracy itself in our nation’s Capitol.
Despite the harsh lessons of the pandemic, despite the violence that prejudice has always wrought in our history, our governor, our former president, and far too many in positions of power have fervently embraced the rhetoric of hate and division.
And now, with predictable reliability, the loudest voices in Texas have gathered to once again blame all our problems on immigrants. It’s a convenient shell game that shows the abject laziness of our politicians to embrace inflammatory exaggerations over hard facts.
Christianity and basic humanity decency are on life support in Texas in far too many ways. Endless scriptural admonitions call for caring for our neighbor no matter who they are. It is the entire essence of the parable of the Good Samaritan. Immigrants embody the invisible suffering that Jesus chose to bring into the light. This ignored, demonized, embattled group is so convenient to blame and that has little ability to fight back in the public square.
Our neglector-in-chief, Gov. Greg Abbott, who didn’t feel an obligation to the health and safety of his own fellow Texans this past year, has teamed up with the king of neglect for a so-called fact finding trip to the border this week. They have proven to us repeatedly that they are wholly uninterested in facts: blame, disinformation and rhetoric worthy of our worst moments in history are their weapons.
How simple it is to blame poor and struggling families for all of our ills. And how easy it is to ignore the reality of our part in causing those struggles. The drumbeat of prejudice is gathering louder, starting with our state and national leaders, and spreading to our local officials and neighbors. The new pandemic accompanying COVID is hate. And it’s spreading far faster with more violent and widespread results. Yet, it can be controlled if we demand that our leaders stop purposefully fueling this fire.
If our state wants to address the issues at the border, they need to work with, not against, the federal government, whose responsibility it is to secure the nation’s borders. They need to work directly with local border officials and law enforcement to find compassionate ways to help our neighbors while still maintaining security.
Most importantly, Abbott and other elected officials need to talk to the boots on the ground: Sister Norma Pimentel in the Rio Grande Valley, or Ruben Garcia at Annunciation House in El Paso. A dialogue with these local charitable leaders would help our government truly understand the situation at the border and see the actual trauma that they are witnessing on a daily basis. Perhaps it would be harder to demonize a group when you attach a human face to the suffering.
Walls are not the answer. Militaristic border tactics are not the answer. And hate is neither the answer, nor should it be our weapon.
It’s time we decide who we really are as Texans. We either blindly follow those who are all too willing to drum up strife or we do the hard work of fighting for truth, decency, and justice, as God requires of us.
The consequences of the dangerous path of prejudice are far larger than an election, a photo opp, or a convenient outlet for our problems. The consequences of hate are human lives and our very souls.
Kathy Blalock Molinar has a blog on motherhood, politics and faith. She is a former El Paso business broker and appraiser.
Cover photo: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and former President Donald Trump visited the Rio Grande Valley on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of the governor’s office)