‘Send Her Back’ brings Emma to tears

Congresswoman Ilham Omar, a Somali-American, expressed some partisan criticism and was immediately trashed by a crowd in North Carolina with the chant “Send Her Back,” indicating that she had no right to be in this country.

I was shocked. So UnAmerican, so unChristian, I thought. But my initial conclusions were wrong. While it was still unChristian, it was actually very American. Once the Germans and Scandinavians got in, we quickly slammed the door on the Irish, Chinese, Italians, Czechs, Bulgarians, all of the other people in southern Europe, and now Mexico, Central America and locations south.

Desperate people, high on hope, choked by fear, all scrambling to escape squalid conditions and gang terror in their home countries. But they find no empathy here.

In this land of professing Jesus followers, we turn to Scripture to see how we should treat these unfortunate souls.

Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave or free man, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Romans 15:7: “Wherefore, accept one another, just as Christ accepted us to the glory of God.”

Romans 2:11: “…there is no partiality with God.”

James 2:9: “But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.”

1 Timothy: 5: 21: do nothing in a spirit of partiality.

Some of us think that public discussions ought not include references to our faith. But from our faith we get our values and our values show up in public issues, e.g. abortion, sexual orientation, value of life.

Unfortunately, when it comes to public issues, most Christians consider the Bible as advisory and the teachings of Christ as irrelevant. Ask the chanting “believers” in North Carolina who chose to drive a stake into the heart of a besieged lady for speaking out of turn.

In the name of transparency, maybe we should take another look at the message in the Statue of Liberty.

Dear Emma Lazarus, please come back

We need your prose and pen

To correct the message written

For the grand lady in the harbor

Emma, you were much too hopeful

Expecting us to be loving and kind

To those hoping for a new beginning

But, alas, such was not to be

We refused to share our liberty

For 150 years in vain we tried

To welcome those searching souls

Our forefathers among them

Just two generations ago

But, Emma, we must tell the truth

So please pen it the best you can

We don’t want your tired or your poor

Or your huddled masses

Yearning to breathe free

We have no room for them to be

Or the wretched refuse starving

On your teeming shore

Don’t send the homeless, tempest-tost to us

We have put out the lamp of hope

And closed the golden door.

Emma, what is this on your cheek I see

A tear…and another…flowing free

That’s okay, Emma

For God is weeping, too.

Lloyd Omdahl is a former lieutenant governor of North Dakota and former political science professor at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks.