“Mexicans are taking our jobs,” they say. What they really say is, let them die, and the children too.

For years, I’ve begun the unit on race, ethnicity, and immigration that I teach in Intro to Soc with Jimmy Santiaga Baca’s poem “So Mexicans are Taking Jobs from Americans?” This week, the poem resonated harder and more deeply than ever. 

It begins with the speaker casting some doubt on the question in the title: 



O Yes? Do they come on horses
with rifles, and say
Ese gringo, gimmee your job?


 Are they bandit on horseback? Highway robbers? Muggers? Do they wrestle our jobs out of our hands, or do they pick them out of our pockets? How, exactly, does this happen?

The speaker goes on a little hunt to find these immigrant-robbers and instead just finds politicians whipping up fury about immigrants to hide the fact that the real problem is capitalism, “small white farmers selling out/to clean suited farmers…who’ve never been on a farm/don’t know the look of a hoof or the smell/of a woman’s body bending all day long in fields.” 

Economic inequality, not immigration, is the enemy, but it’s harder to blame the powerful than it is to blame the powerless. Still, “millions and millions of people fight to live,/…hold their breath for years/trying to cross poverty to just having something.

Fears and anger about job loss is just a cover for racism that then can be used to justify and permit further exploitation of brown bodies. We hate those who are economically weak so that we don’t have to care for them and can take advantage of their suffering. It’s why the US government hasn’t responded with force to the disaster that hurricanes have inflicted on Puerto Rico and why, before that, we didn’t care about the economic disaster afflicting the island. It’s why so many white Americans complain about immigration but then continue to participate in an economic system that relies on immigrant labor. It’s why we are anger at border crossers but can’t take account for the ways that US foreign policy has impoverished Mexico. 

Here is how Jimmy Santiago Baca ends his poem



The children are dead already. We are killing them,
that is what America should be saying;
on TV, in the streets, in offices, should be saying,
“We aren’t giving the children a chance to live.”

 Mexicans are taking our jobs, they say instead.
What they really say is, let them die,
and the children too.

You can read the full-text online elsewhere. If you like it, consider buying his work, including downloads of him reading his work, and make a donation to Cedar Tree Inc., a nonprofit he started to support the use of literature and writing to change the world. 

And if you like it, share it–maybe even in church today.


PS. Here’s a bonus video of the poet reading one of my favorites, “I Am Offering this Poem.” It’s just a few stanzas and only about a minute. It’s a love poem, and I hope you love it. 


The Bible passage Jeff Sessions and SHS were looking for to justify Trump’s abuse of children

Above, ICE agents in San Diego arrest an undocumented immigrant in front of her children, pulling her off the street into a van in a scene that looks like the kind of kidnapping performed in places like Chechnya and Argentina. 

I found the Bible verse that Jeff Sessions and Sarah Huckabee Sanders were searching for in that angry press conference this week. It’s not from Romans 13 (in which Paul tells Christians to avoid crossing the government in order to stay alive). It’s from Psalm 137. I’ve updated it to reflect contemporary GOP concerns:

By the Potomoc and in rural Wisconsin, western PA, but mostly in the suburbs of Kansas City,

we sit and complain

as we remember how much better our white grandfathers had it than we do.

Today, women and people of color and immigrants ask us for rights,

like to food and education and health care and gun-free schools.


How can we be happy when things have gone so badly for us and our status is threatened!

If we stop venerating the Confederacy or stop singing the praises of Ayn Rand or Ronald Reagan,

may our right hands forget how to steal from the poor!

If we forgot how good we had it, in the days of legal segregation and redlining,

back when you could fire a woman for getting pregnant,

or intern people in concentration camps and steal their land,

may our mouths forget how to lie!


Remember, Lord, what Mexican immigrants have done.

No, Lord, not their work in our fields and meat factories or their contributions to our Social Security or our tax base. The BAD things they’ve done. 

Like taking our jobs, the ones we don’t want and prefer that they do for very low wages.

And coming into our country, just to destroy it by

speaking Spanish

and having brown skin

and having children who will have brown skin, even if they speak English.

God, damn those immigrants!

People should take pleasure in killing them!

Happy is the one who repays them for daring to dream of a better life!

Happy is the one who seizes their infants

and dashes them against the rocks!*



*The last two lines are, in fact, from the psalm.

A snippet of hope

Hi Joel,

I’m knee-deep (maybe waist-deep at this point) in a revision of an article about Trump’s speeches to religious conservatives. I’ve been reading pieces from the new book God at the Grassroots, 2016: The Christian Right in American Politics, edited by Mark J. Rozell and Clyde Wilcox. Rozell, a political scientist at George Mason, wrote the introduction last July, about 6 months into the Trump presidency. He ends the introduction with these words:


It’s an encouraging reminder. I’ve been focusing (sensibly, I think) on ways in which this presidency is normalizing hate, especially among conservative Christians. Rozell’s words remind me that another ending is likely: that a Trump presidency (which may end in impeachment, scandal, failure, or even war) may pull down with it the Religious Right.

My real (unrealistic) hope is that this would release Christians who are concerned about politics to do something better with their energy. A Christian Democrat party.

Here’s hoping!


Obsequience Abroad

Do you know folks who STILL won’t watch a Jane Fonda movie because of this picture? I do. They’re all over the pro-Trump social media sites I follow, posting images that invoke violence against the actress.

Image result for hanoi jane meme

Above, a memified image of Jane Fonda declares “Hanoi Still a Trainter” and “Once a traitor, always a traitor!” In the photo, she sits in an enemy anti-aircraft gun that was used to target Us planes during the Vietnam war. Fonda has repeatedly expressed regret about the photo. Fonda, who has done significant work to support veterans, was visiting North Vietnam on a peace mission that included carrying letters to US soldiers who were POWs. As with other places she visited, she was required to wear a helmet. She says she didn’t realize, at the moment, that she had been guided to sit on a seat near an anti-aircraft gun. As soon as she stood up, she realized that her photo had been taking while seated there and sought assurances that the image would not be released. In retrospect, she says, she alone is responsible for possibly being manipulated into this staged photo. Photo by Nihon Denpa/Associated Press. 

What do you think they have to say about this video footage?


Above, video footage released by North Korean state media showing the US president saluting a North Korean military official. 

Remember that the US president is the Commander-in-Chief of our armed forces. He doesn’t salute our own military leaders. This isn’t just a breach of protocol from a man who lacks manners. It’s not just a politically stupid man blundering his way into giving North Korea photographic evidence that it’s a legitimate world player. It is also evidence that Trump respects only the power of dictators. He can’t respect Justin Trudeau because the Canadian Prime Minister he cannot respect someone he sees as “meek” or “weak.” He can only respect those he sees as brutal because he yearns to be brutal, too. His fawning at autocrats is embarrassing and shows, once again, just how easy he is to manipulate–and thus how endangered US interests are.

And I haven’t seen a peep about it among those defenders of freedom and liberty who populate Deplorable social media.

Eight Things You Could Do if You are a Christian Baker Asked to Bake a Wedding Cake for a Same-Sex Couple

  1. Bake the cake and donate the profits to a shelter for homeless LGBTQ teens who have been thrown away by their parents. Do your Christian duty to feed the hungry and shelter the homeless, remembering that Jesus never said those in need had to be straight to be worth your care.
  2. Bake the cake and wish the couple well, just like you would any other couple whose marriage you thought was a sin.
  3. Bake the cake and respect their autonomy to make their own choices–you know, free will.
  4. Bake the cake and trust that if you were too kind to sinners, God will forgive you.
  5. Bake the cake to the very best of your ability. Let it serve as a symbol of your care for people who are struggling through this often unkind world.
  6. Bake the cake and pray for the couple, that they would grow in their love of Jesus. If you think that Jesus wants them to be straight, trust that he’ll make that happen. And if turns out that they do love Jesus and are still gay… well, be prepared for the challenge that will be to your view of Jesus.
  7. Bake the cake. Make the whole experience of being your client so positive for the same-sex couple that they see Jesus in your actions.
  8. Bake them two cakes, as Jesus said you should.

See the source image

If you think your work as a baker is the Lord’s work, trust that God will use it for good. Just be prepared that that “good” might not look like what you expect.


If Trumpism is what Christianity has to offer, I’ll happily go to hell

art cathedral christ christian
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Jesus Christ:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday offered a full-throated defense of the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the border, saying that having kids does not give migrants immunity from prosecution — and found justification for his policies in the Bible.

In his remarks, Sessions hit back at the “concerns raised by our church friends about separating families,” calling the criticism “not fair or logical” and quoting scripture in his defense of the administration’s tough policies.

“Persons who violate the law of our nation are subject to prosecution. I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order,” Sessions said. “Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves and protect the weak and lawful.”

Sarah Sanders doubled down.

What would Jesus do? Rip families away from their children, apparently.

For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you took Me in, 36I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you visited Me.’

I guess that kind of stuff is just for liberal snowflakes.

To the Christians who support this stuff: This is your witness. All of us are imperfect — we all fall short of the glory of God, as it were — but seriously: People are forming their view of your God, your faith, based on your support of this man and his cruel policies.

I don’t think that fairly represents your God or your faith. Some among you don’t think so either.

But let’s say Jeff Sessions and Sarah Sanders are right, and I’m wrong: That the tearing apart of families is precisely the kind of thing God is in favor of.

Well: I want no part of that religion. Not even if that God is the end-all be-all power of the universe. I’d rather go to hell than worship such cruelty.

Luckily, I don’t think that’s the case. And I think you follow Trump because you want so badly to defend your freedom to practice your faith as you see it. But you’re inflicting wounds on your church in the process. It’s not too late to change.

GOP Sewage Backs Up

A pimp accused of assaulting the sex workers in his brothel just won the GOP primary for state legislature in Nevada. At his victory party was guest Heidi Fleiss, who ran an illegal prostitution ring in DC.

Virginia Republicans just chose in their Senate primary a neo-Confederate. He will likely lose in the general election, but damage will be done in a state that has already suffered so much recently at the hands of white supremacists.

A Holocaust denier won the GOP primary for a House seat outside of Chicago. While the Republican party has disavowed him, they didn’t run an opponent in the primary. And let’s be clear: he chose to run as a Republican because that is the party that, ideologically, is the place for neo-Nazis.

And don’t forget that Republican leaders across the nation supported a man who grooms children while they wait for their mother to come out of a custody hearing in his failed bid to get to the Senate last year.

The GOP needs to get its shit together. I suggest Mr. Pung, above, a CO2 powered toilet plunger. 

Where are the culture warriors, I wonder? Where are the evangelical churches working so hard on anti-trafficking laws? The megachurches who shed so many tears in the late 90s and early 2000s about bringing more black people into their all-white congregations? The “Friends of Israel”? They’re not just silent but will be donating to, rallying around, and voting for these politicians.