The Dalai Lama vs. Pope Francis on Immigration
The Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader, was speaking at a conference in Malmo, Sweden, it is Sweden’s third largest city known for its very high immigration density, it has a disproportionately large immigration population, and he made some very interesting comments on immigration in light of the recent elections there in Sweden, where the anti-immigration and nationalist populist party the Sweden Democrats surged in support, garnering 18 percent of the vote. Those of you who were disappointed in the result, that you wanted to see the Sweden Democrats do even better, keep in mind that they got 17 percent of the vote; that was more than Matteo Salvini’s League or Lega got back in March in their national elections in Italy. Now, they are polling at 30 percent approval. So patience, grasshopper, patience.
The Dalai Lama said, and I think it took a lot of people aback, because they see him as mostly siding with the political left when it comes to human rights and such, he came out and said that Europe belongs to Europeans. Europe belongs to Europeans, and while they have a moral obligation to receive refugees, and help them, and educate them, regardless those refugees are morally obliged to return back to their own countries and help develop and sustain and nurture them, help develop their own nations. In other words, the Dalai Lama I think said something quite profound here; he said in effect that this mass refugee flight from their countries of origins, while understandable given the absolutely destitute conditions that have occurred largely through Western, and yes, particularly American neo-liberal, neo-con foreign policy interventions in Libya and Syria and the like, ultimately it can be actually quite selfish on the part of the refugees if they are in effect abandoning their homelands. They need to go back and help their own people, their extended family and tribe and kin that they are intrinsically related to. He said it works the other way. Germany is Germany; Germany can never be an Arab country; it does not share in the least any common cultural, political, ethnic, traditional, or historical ties with Arab populations. Germany is Germany, Austria is Austria, Europe belongs to and is constituted by Europeans. And this whole notion that culture, custom, and tradition do not matter, all you need is some transcultural, transnational conception of human rights and a scientifically-inspired economic and political system that just superimposes itself on all cultures regardless of their own economic and political specificity and custom, this is an absolutely unrealistic and unsustainable Western liberal globalist ideology. It is not natural but rather superimposed. Indeed, it is a modern form of colonization, a modern form of cultural imperialism.
Needless to say, the Dalai Lama is being mocked and ridiculed by many of our Western liberal elites as pushing his own brand of racism, they are saying that he is now becoming the puppet of nationalists and populists and on and on. Some has pointed out that this is precisely what Chinese communist propaganda has been saying, right? These leftist liberals are parroting quite literally Chinese murderous Marxist rhetoric here.
Regardless, the Dalai Lama is not alone in terms of his Buddhist-inspired notions of immigration. I do not know how many of you remember the infamous Tiger Mom, Amy Chua, the Harvard professor who wrote The Battel Hymn of the Tiger Mothers. She has actually written on tribalism in the United States and what she would recommend as a sensible and realistic immigration policy here in the United States; it included things like admissions standards that favor professional skills over just third world status and family-ties, with so-called anchor babies and the like; every immigrant should be required to speak English and educated in the nation’s civic virtues, and all immigration laws should be strictly enforced. Who does this sound like? Donald Trump? Or in its European context, Victor Orban, or Matteo Salvini? Marine Le Pen, and NOW of course the Dalai Lama.
Whether people like it or not, we are moving toward a far more nationalist, populist, and traditionalist conception of immigration. That is just where the world is turning; in fact, we’ve talked about this before, 2016 was designated by one publication as the ‘Year of the Wall’ because the publishers found that everywhere they looked in the world, border walls were going up, not coming down.
Now, don’t tell that to Pope Francis. Pope Francis is under the impression that the world is becoming more and more homogenized; he argues that we need to overcome our irrational and sinful fears of the immigrant. In fact, the Pope has gone so far as to argue that nationalist populism and its immigration policies were creating a form of mass psychosis! He insists that a person’s dignity has nothing to do whatsoever with them being a citizen, a migrant, or a refugee. Saving the life of someone (notice it is always someONE, not tens of thousands), but saving the life of someone fleeing war and poverty is an act of humanity. You know, what is also an act of humanity, is for that person, that someone, to go back and help his fellow kin and not abandon them; this is the blind spot of Pope Francis that the Dalai Lama’s comments I think are revealing.
There is also another major blind spot when it comes to this current pope, who by the way may not survive the current sex-scandals that are rocking the worldwide Catholic church; that is actually what the Bible has to say about illegal immigration.
An important study by Old Testament scholar James K. Hoffmeier provides some clarity on this issue. Hoffmeier argues that the Old Testament passages appealed to by the pope and other more leftist Christians as justification for amnesty actually speak to the treatment of immigrants who have been granted permissionto stay in the land of Israel (cf. Deut. 10:18-19). He makes a distinction between three Hebrew terms: ger, ekhar, and zar. The term ger is generally translated as ‘alien’ in our English Bibles, while nekhar and zar are both rendered as ‘foreigner.’ The important point is that the terms are used differently in Scripture. So while nekhar and zar refer to people merely passing through a foreign land, …………. ger refers to foreign residents who stay in the land for extended period, perhaps for the rest of their lives. Here is the key; they are staying in the land by permission. Hoffmeier gives the example of Joseph, who asks permission from Pharaoh for his family to settle in Egypt. And Pharaoh in turn gave them the land of Goshen (Gen 47:5-7). And so, as Hoffmeier develops, the Mosaic law commands the Hebrews to treat the ger, the immigrant who has permission to stay in the land, they are commanded to treat the ger in a just and compassionate manner, with full access to the social structures of Israel. But in turn, the ger is also obligated to live according to the laws of Israel! The ger must obey the laws of the land, the first of which is getting permission to be there in the first place. Hoffmeier observes too that no such provisions are extended to the nekhar and zar, Israel is under no divine obligation to accommodate them in any specific way outside of mutual respect for their fellow human beings. But they are certainly not entitled to the benefits of being a citizen of Israel. Hoffmeier concludes that those Christians like our current pope are mistakenly applying the biblical passages regarding LEGAL immigrants, those who have permission to be there, they are applying those passages to illegal immigration or those just showing up at the border and claiming refugee status. An immigrant is different than a foreigner; a foreigner is merely passing through the land without any citizen benefits while an immigrant plans to stay indefinitely – and the key here is – by permission.
If the immigrant in Scripture is obliged to follow the laws of Israel, then how on earth does a person follow the laws of the land who is here illegally? How does an illegal immigrant follow the laws of the land? By definition, he or she cannot.
The simple fact of the matter is that the Bible never eliminates borders; it certainly redefines them, but it never eliminates them. There are no unfettered open entrances in Scripture. This of course is most especially true of Israel, but it also true of the church. Paul’s letters evidence very clear boundaries between Christian life and pagan life, and indeed Jewish life as well. And when it comes to national borders, the issue is biblically and historically one of national security, which the church has historically affirmed as right and good. The protection of a nation’s own citizens, particularly the weak and infirm, is the moral duty of any nation, particularly a Christian one. I have heard it put this way. I lock the doors of my home at night not because I hate the people outside, but because I love the people inside.