America first. For some, this slogan sounds like we are getting our priorities together. We need to focus on our economy and give jobs to real Americans– as if the persons who are employed at these businesses are not real people with real needs. Still, we need to take from them in order give it to us. Because “this land is my land.”
This is the language of privilege and American exceptionalism, the belief that America is inherently different from other nations and that this difference is divinized in our favor. “We are the chosen ones and we can take what we want. It belongs to us– even if you have it. Stop working and give the job to me.”
There is a segment of the American population who feels that Donald Trump is going to pay attention to them, that he is putting the needs of their communities and families first. “And it’s about time that we start to focus on us.” We need to stop helping immigrants, refugees and other persons in vulnerable spaces. They need to work for citizenship; they have to prove themselves if they want to come here, if they are to be counted as members of our society.
Get to the back of the line. America first.
Hand it over. America first.
Get out. America first.
For Christians, the problem with this slogan is that it is not Christ- like. Jesus teaches as recorded in the gospel of Matthew: “Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give this last the same as I give you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous? So the last will be first, and the first will be last” (20.14-16). And it is not a new campaign.
One of more than 400, Dr. Seuss’ (or Theodor Geisel) political cartoon above is dated 1941. It was created during the time of Hitler’s reign. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
Christ did not come so that we could push and shove people out of the way, so that we could save the best for ourselves, so that we could hoard the land. Christ came to save the world in the name of Love– not for our nationalistic enterprises. And you would think that we would know this by now.
His words were first and will outlast these. It’s not America first; it’s God first. Any other expression is out of order but I am certain that this won’t be last time that we hear it.
Jennie Rothenberg Gritz, The Atlantic, “When Dr. Seuss took on Adolf Hitler“, January 15, 2013.