Someone on the Christian Right should read the Book of Exodus to Donald Trump before he cements his connection to Pharaoh by sending his army out to bring back all those slaves — someone who can help him understand that Pharaoh is the loser in that story.
Ideally, someone on the Christian Left would do it, as an act of Christian love, but the story probably has to come from someone who is not associated with fake news. Someone like Sarah Huckabee’s father: surely he can see the ancient Hebrews in the pictures coming out of Mexico and Guatemala.
But wait, Trump’s going to say: those Hondurans aren’t slaves, they’re free men and women, and the army isn’t going out to bring them back, but rather to keep them from coming in.
Both of those but-waits are superficially true, but the parallels are close enough to justify conflating the two stories. In both cases a desperate underclass finally unchains itself from the life created for it by the masters — the life that makes the masters rich — and together those people head north, on foot, in lousy shoes, with nothing of any value whatsoever but themselves, and the power of belief in something better.
“It’s an Exodus,” the activist Ruben Figueroa says.
While it’s true that the people fleeing Honduras are not enslaved per se, sixty-six percent of them live below the poverty line, with one out of every five people trying to survive on less than $1.90 a day. That’s a life of slavery de facto.
But wait, Trump’s going to say: their fate is on President Hernandez, not on me. Someone should explain to Trump that, in the global era, he doesn’t have to own hotels in Honduras to play the role of Pharaoh to those people. The only way to get his kind of money is to take it from people all over the world.
Overwhelming, inescapable poverty makes Honduras one of the most dangerous countries on earth, especially for women. In a country smaller than the state of Ohio, one woman is murdered every 16 hours, and the average child confronts as many as 30 dead bodies before her ninth birthday. That’s why Honduran women and children have joined this exodus en masse.
Despite those numbers, last December, in the aftermath of a presidential election that was condemned by independent observers, Trump officially endorsed the country’s record on civil rights, even as military units were crushing protests in the street. Some of those units were trained by Americans, with money provided by American taxpayers.
“It’s almost like they want to say that what’s happening is false,” suggested Carlos Reyes, a Honduran union leader. “The certification practically gives carte blanche to violate human rights in Honduras under the umbrella of the United States.”
We should all remember that the Book of Exodus begins with Pharaoh’s fear: “Look,” he says, “those people are more numerous and powerful than we are. Let’s deal shrewdly with them, or they’ll join our enemies.” Pharaoh oppressed those people with forced labor, but the more he oppressed them, the more they multiplied and spread, so that he came to dread them.
Let us all pray that these conflated exoduses can be separated before Donald Trump begins to see himself in that part of the story.