Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Twists Christmas Story to Make Jesus an Immigration Talking Point
On Christmas Day, Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) repeated the old liberal canard that because Jesus was a refugee, attempts to secure the U.S. border and limit illegal immigration are anti-Christmas. While Jesus was a refugee, Christmas has nothing to do with immigration policy. Furthermore, the very baby-killing event Jesus was fleeing has a tragic echo in abortion clinics today.
"Joy to the World! Merry Christmas everyone - here’s to a holiday filled with happiness, family, and love for all people (Including refugee babies in mangers + their parents.)," socialist darling Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.
The self-declared democratic socialist went on to share an article from Jesuit activist Fr. James Martin arguing that Jesus was indeed a refugee. She claimed this argument was "for all the anti-immigrant pundits uncomfortable with and denying that Christ’s family were refugees, too."
As if that weren't enough, Ocasio-Cortez went on to tweet an icon presenting an Hispanic family of refugees with the haloes of saints — suggesting that Jesus, Mary, and Joseph should be seen as Hispanic refugees.
"True love is radical because it requires us to see ourselves in all people," the democratic socialist tweeted. "Otherwise, it isn’t love. Love is revolutionary because it has us treat ALL people as we would ourselves - not because we are charitable, but because we are one. That is love’s radical conclusion."
This democratic socialist isn't convincing people to "see ourselves in all people," but to see Jesus Christ in Hispanic refugees. Christians should indeed love and serve all people, especially the less fortunate. That does not directly translate into public policy, however.
Ironically, the icon will likely infuriate many Hispanics — especially strong Roman Catholics. The image suggests that Hispanic refugees from other countries are saints (that's what the haloes mean) merely because they're fleeing from horrific circumstances.
So, why is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pushing this narrative?
As James Martin wrote, the Holy Family (Jesus, Mary, and Joseph) were indeed refugees. The three wise men followed the star to Bethlehem, and met with King Herod. They told Herod that a king had been born, and Herod asked them to lead him to Jesus, intending to kill the baby.
Joseph had a dream telling him to flee to Egypt, which saved Jesus's life; the wise men did not return to Herod after meeting with the Holy Family. This enabled Jesus, Mary, and Joseph to escape from Herod's massacre of babies, remembered on the Day of the Holy Innocents, December 28.
There are key differences between the Holy Family fleeing to Egypt and modern refugee crises, however. Most modern refugees from Syria, Iraq, Venezuela, Honduras, Somalia, and other war-torn countries do not intend to return to their home countries. They seek to make a life for themselves somewhere else.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, James Martin, and other liberals who make this argument glance over the fact that Jesus did not grow up in Egypt. The Holy Family returned to Nazareth.
Furthermore, there are many legal and historical differences between the Holy Family and modern refugees. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were not breaking immigration laws when they crossed into Egypt. Egypt, like Israel, was part of the Roman Empire at the time, so the Holy Family's flight would have been more like refugees from New York City fleeing to Cleveland than like Venezuelan refugees at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Egypt had neither a modern democratic voting system nor a modern welfare system, so even if Jesus, Mary, and Joseph had stayed in Egypt, they would not have received benefits or the right to vote. These modern guarantees justify immigration restrictions (and arguably make them extremely necessary).
Finally, when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted about "refugee babies in mangers," she deliberately conflated the events of Christmas Day (the birth of Jesus, and His laying in a manger because there was no room in the inn) with the events of the Day of Holy Innocents (Jesus, Mary, and Joseph fleeing to Egypt to escape the baby-killing King Herod).
While modern Americans celebrate all the events associated with Christmas on Christmas (the birth of Jesus, the visit of the wise men, et cetera), many traditions draw out the season over 12 days (hence "The Twelve Days of Christmas"). The season begins on Christmas Eve and continues through Epiphany (when the wise men appeared before Jesus), and includes events like the Day of Holy Innocents and the circumcision of Christ (associated with New Year's Day).
Jesus was never a refugee in a manger. It was remarkable that there was no place to put the baby besides a manger on that first Christmas, but there is no reason to think He would lay in a feeding trough when the Holy Family fled to Egypt. For Jesus, "refugee" was a temporary status, although tragically that is often not the case for most modern refugees.
Life is better in modern America than it is in many countries across the world. The U.S. rightly admits many refugees from war-torn countries who would face persecution in their homelands. The current immigration debate is messy and it involves many unrelated questions: How many refugees should America take in? Is the current vetting process sufficient? What should the country do with immigrants who break the law by illegally crossing the southern border? Should the border be reinforced with a wall to prevent criminals from entering the country with drugs and human cargo?
Liberals rightly argue that immigrants and refugees have dignity and should be treated as human beings, but conservatives rightly argue that laws should be enforced and that America should have the sovereignty to keep people out.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others like her are attempting to subvert this debate by emphasizing the humanity of immigrants to the exclusion of all other concerns. Yes, illegal immigrants have human dignity, but they also broke America's laws.
Christians should love and serve all people, including illegal immigrants. But that does not mean the American government should be unable to bring peace to the border and to enforce immigration law — the same immigration law that legal immigrants abide by.
Immigrants who worked hard to abide by U.S. laws, passing citizenship tests few native-born Americans could pass and waiting years to get full citizenship, are appalled when Democrats insist that illegal immigrants should receive the same benefits. The system desperately needs reform, but it is unjust to treat legal immigrants the same as illegal immigrants.
Ocasio-Cortez is attempting to subvert an important debate by using Christmas as a political trump card. In doing so, she can't even keep the events of Christmas straight, mixing them up with the Day of Holy Innocents.
Meanwhile, pro-abortion liberals like her remold Jesus into a progressive icon while advocating abortion for crisis pregnancies. Sure, liberals say they wouldn't want Jesus to be aborted, but there is some dark spiritual connection between their championing killing babies as a woman's right and Herod's Bethlehem massacre.
Ultimately, Christmas is not about modern politics, but there is a dark irony in abortion activists weaponizing Jesus against immigration laws, especially when they reference Jesus's brief babyhood exile. Never forget the baby massacre of the Holy Innocents, the horrific event that made Jesus a refugee in the first place.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.