Friday, June 22, 2018


©Wendell Griffen, 2018
Justice Is A Verb!
June 22, 2018

Unlike many people, I am not amazed that public policy in the United States towards immigrant families from South and Central America is cruel.

I am not amazed that President Donald Trump, his advisers, and political supporters have lied – meaning they have said and persist in saying things that are categorically untrue, false, inaccurate, and fraudulent.

I am not amazed that immigrant children have been forcibly separated from their mothers and fathers.

I am not amazed that Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions quoted the Bible in a shameless effort to justify that conduct. 

I am not amazed that religious leaders who supported Donald Trump to become President of the United States are now trying to distance themselves from the hellish Trump administration “zero tolerance” policy toward immigrants who commit the misdemeanor offense of crossing the border without authorization.

And I am not fooled by people who say the cruelty, dishonesty, and hypocrisy we are witnessing every day is somehow a break from what the United States truly is. 

I am “un-amazed” and “un-fooled” because I know the true history of this nation.  

This nation separated Native American children from their parents and communities.  This nation separated and upheld the enslavement and sale of African children from their parents.  This nation separated Japanese children and their parents from their homes, schools, and neighborhoods. 

This nation separated Mexican children and their parents from lands their families owned for generations.  This nation separated entire Native American communities from lands they occupied.   

White religious nationalists voted for the people who developed and carried out those policies.  White religious nationalists profited from those policies.  White religious nationalists refused to join the victims of those wicked policies in calling for reparations. 

Yes, we are living in a distressing time for people who care about justice.  We are living in a distressing time for people who care about democracy.  We are living in a distressing time for people who care about immigrants, women and girls, people who are black and brown, people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer.  We are living in distressing time for people who are followers of Islam.  We are living in distressing time for people who are injured, ill, workers, aged, not affluent, and not white.   We are living in a distressing time for people who believe in truth, generosity, hospitality, justice, love, peace, and hope.

However, we should not be amazed or fooled.  The U.S. has always behaved this way. 

Donald Trump’s administration is proof about the ugly, yet un-amazing, truth about white religious nationalism and the demonic theology of white supremacy on which white religious nationalism has always stood. 

People in the U.S. have always pretended they do not know that white supremacy is the dominant theology of this society – no matter what religious affiliations they claim.  White religious nationalism is how the theology of white supremacy influences public policy at every level of this society. 

I am un-amazed and un-fooled by the distressing things we are seeing, however much I am distressed by them, because I have long understood that white religious nationalism is not limited to the Ku Klux Klan and White Citizen Council and other notorious white nationalist hate groups.  White religious nationalism is the pernicious operating philosophy for the entire society.  White supremacy is the theology that undergirds it. 

That is why Donald Trump became President of the United States.  That is why immigrant children have been separated from their parents.  That is why the U.S. leads the world in mass incarceration, including detention of children.  That is why black and brown people are routinely slaughtered by law enforcement agencies with impunity. 

We should be saddened, distressed, angered, and determined to resist white supremacy, white religious nationalism, and the unjust policies and practices associated with it.  But we should not be amazed at it nor fooled by people who claim to be surprised about it. 

This is what the United States has always been. 

This truth is ugly. 

It is not new.


  1. Your essay lays bare the undeniable ugliness of the underbelly of the American Experience. It is much easier not to gaze upon it and look only to the enlightened aspects of our nation, of which there are many. Sadly, a part of the same guiding doctrines that justified the Native American genocide, enslavement of African peoples and internment of Japanese-Americans still holds true at our Southern border. Same game, different name: “MAGA”.

  2. You’re absolutely correct, Judge Griffen. This country has never truly acknowledged its original sin (much less worked to absolve it), so it is encouraged in its bad behavior. This Petri dish presidency doesn’t help.