Refugees, A Hog Wallow, and the Midterms

Photo Source Jonathan McIntosh | CC BY 2.0

While reading media descriptions of the migrant procession through Central America and Mexico two stories came to mind. The first is the song by Bob Marley and the Wailers titled “Exodus.” The second is the flight of the Israelites from the Pharaoh’s Egypt. When examined even just a little, neither the song or the biblical tale is a genuinely apt metaphor. However, the concept of a flight to a better place is suggested by both tales. In the song, Bob Marley sings “So we gonna walk – all right! – through de roads of creation….” and out of Babylon. In the instance of the migrant caravan, these walkers would seem to be walking towards Babylon (as in the United States—the modern Babylon.) As it relates to the biblical tale of Exodus, it seems fair to say that the procession is moving to the land of the Pharaoh (as in Trump). One assumes the hundreds in the procession feel differently, perhaps understanding their trek as a walk away from brutal and constant oppression and starvation. The future they face is uncertain, but it must provide a hope that does not exist in the places they have left.

The reaction of Trump, his advisers and the Trumpist media to the caravan—portraying it as a cover for “terrorists” and threatening the use of military force to prevent its entry into US territory—is more than just a mean-spirited manipulation of nativist fears. It is a morally reprehensible response to the plight of those Jesus would call the least of our brethren. In addition, threatening military action against mostly impoverished refugees is grossly inappropriate and most likely a violation of US law. Of course, in the world of 2018 USA, that means little. Moral reprehensibility and violation of the law are the modus operandi of the ruling party in Washington.

This nation called the United States is nothing more than a hog wallow composed mostly of manure. The larger hogs in the muck consume everything in their reach, their girth growing measurably wider with time. Occasionally these larger hogs fight among themselves, but only to determine how they will prevent others from getting any of the slop they gorge themselves on. The nature and breadth of their consumption is so grand it cannot help but mean they often consume their own waste. Oblivious or just not caring about the risks involved in such behaviors, the boss hogs step up their consumption. Those who wish to be like them—despite the enormous odds against that ever happening—mimic the boss hogs’ behavior and defend them against those who do not share their passion for gluttony.

The brazen immorality of the nation’s leadership is redefined as morality in newspapers, on television and in many of the nation’s churches. Christians claiming to follow Christ and his two great commandments: Love the lord thy god and, secondly, Love your neighbor as yourself, seem to be full of self-hatred or confused as to who their god actually is. One can hear the more thoughtful among them asking themselves is my god money and the pursuit of money? Is it Donald Trump or some prosperity preacher? Do I hate refugees because I hate myself? To say the least, their churches are quite unhelpful in answering these questions. The New Testament warnings against false prophets seem quite relevant. Conversely perhaps, so does Max Weber’s observation that modern capitalism would create a society filled with “Specialists without spirit, sensualists without heart; {which} imagines that it has attained a level of civilization never before achieved.”

Liberals look at their world, claiming to be mystified by what they see. Their struggle between doing what’s morally right versus protecting the capitalist system has rendered them politically impotent. So quick to judge the faults of the unwashed, they refuse to meaningfully challenge the individuals determined to destroy them. As for the entities of power that once served them—the so-called deep state—liberals refuse to challenge the basis of these entities’ existence—the pursuit of profit and the domination of the economic system—because it might mean an end to their bourgeois comfort. The crisis these liberals face is one of their own making. It is no longer only about holding power. It is now a moral crisis. One wonders if they will find the moral courage they have compromised to fight the proto-fascists now taking over the house they thought was theirs alone.

Recently, Donald Trump told his audience he is a nationalist. One wonders how long it will be before he tells that audience what everyone already knows: not only is he a nationalist, but he is a white nationalist. One also wonders how that statement will be received by the population. Will there be a flurry of sound and fury followed by acceptance of an proud white supremacist in the White House or will a genuine resistance to fascism finally be mounted? If it is to be the latter, then the Trumpists must be stopped in their tracks now, beginning with the upcoming elections. Trump and his backers must be prevented from getting two more years to consolidate their power. Despite my distaste for liberal politicians, I plan on holding my nose and casting my vote for a few of them. After all, voting is just a tactic, not a moral position. In my mind, it is a tactic that needs to be employed this election cycle.

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. He has a new book, titled Nowhere Land: Journeys Through a Broken Nation coming out in Spring 2024.   He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: