I love living in a city that is so open and welcoming to immigrants from other countries. I also think this country could take in a lot more immigrants and be just fine. But I find myself scratching my head when you and others call for “no borders.” How would that work? If 50 million or a 100 million or a billion people suddenly came pouring into the country, there wouldn’t be enough schools for their children, houses for them to live in or food for them to eat.
— James, Sunnyside
Possibly, you’re white. Me too, and let me say this: That feeling of ‘what-if-they-all-come-and-overwhelm-us?’ is sneaky at first, like the first signs of the common cold, but you have to catch it early, because this is EARLY ONSET RACISM! If you don’t catch it, you can, as you get older, turn into Mitch McConnell.
Look at what you’ve said here, James, in your tone of Christian selflessness. By welcoming and not welcoming simultaneously, you are summing up the contradiction of late-stage America. We invite the world by our marketing seductions to the phantasia of a clean, safe suburb, while we just as strenuously disinvite with red-lining, toxic traffic, bad jobs and murderous police. The lie of democracy hurts those who find their best selves appealed to, their hopes lifted. Meanwhile, it schizzes those of us who copped the privilege. We realize that we’re winners in a vicious Ponzi scheme.
Look, James, the billion people are coming anyway. Our climate violence is forcing the results of our rapacious economy across our borders. Best to offer not a guilty apology, but a gift economy. Invite everyone in and share everything we can. Now, in these final days, we can tell the truth by giving.
Let them in! Let us out! Let them in! Hear us shout!
• • •
Dear Rev Billy,
After all the horrible things Trump’s done, he’s being busted for a shady telephone call with the president of Ukraine. I probably shouldn’t be picky. What do you make of the situation?
— Louise, Mott Haven
As Trump comes apart, we are surprised by his delicacy. He’s like a balloon sputtering all over the room, his sentences spewing out. He has the innocence of a broken robot. He’s shouting “Treason!” at people he’s can’t find. He’s haunted. He wants to execute the whistle-blower, but he wants to “interview” her.
The thing is, he is a lonely man who is as crazy as the systems that he inherited when he won the election. Our neoliberal economy, for instance, is complete nonsense. Every object and every dream is for sale. Trump is a heavy-hitting clown who rose to be as ridiculous and evil as the prevailing culture. We need to figure out precisely how we invented him.
Reverend Billy & Savitri D’s Church of Stop Shopping perform at Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater on Sunday afternoons from Thanksgiving to Christmas.