The frequently wrong but never in doubt congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez marked Christmas Day by declaring Jesus a ‘refugee baby’ in a tweet that went viral among the historically illiterate. Ocasio’s comment regurgitates a popular leftist canard of recent years that equates the Holy Family with Latin American and Muslim migrants crossing illegally into the United States and Europe, respectively, because Jesus, Mary, and Joseph fled the Massacre of the Innocents in Judea for Egypt. The flaw in the leftists’ argument is that at the time of the Holy Family’s voyage neither Judea nor Egypt were independent nations but rather provinces of Rome. It seems ironic that Ocasio, who today waxes philosophic about the alleged Israeli occupation of Palestine, should forget the actual Roman occupation of Judea. But then again, Ocasio admits she’s “not the expert” on the subject.
The Holy Family traveled from one province of Rome into another to escape persecution. As a matter of political organization, such a voyage more closely resembles the flight of overtaxed Californians into Texas than it does a caravan of Hondurans into San Diego. Likewise, Jesus was never “undocumented,” as goes another popular talking point; rather, he was born in Bethlehem as his parents journeyed to register their identities with the government.
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. (Luke 2:1-5)
The Left’s ignorance on this and other issues surprises none of us. More remarkable is the secular Left’s occasional incoherent embrace of Christianity as a model for politics on issues including immigration, marriage, and even abortion. Leftist politicians may attempt to crush the Little Sisters of the Poor and Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips for refusing to violate their religious beliefs, but even these irreligious crusaders will cite the Bible when they think it suits their purposes. One minute, the Left assails Christianity; the next, it refers to Christianity as the moral standard. As that great observer of human nature Francois de la Rochefoucauld observed, “Hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue.” The Left, by their immigration virtue signaling, has accidentally signaled actual virtue. Call it a Christmas miracle, but don’t call Jesus a refugee.