Melania’s Esther Moment?
In the biblical book of Esther, Esther became the Queen of Persia during the reign of King Ahasuerus. The queen job was open because the King had given the boot to Vashti, the former queen, when she disobeyed him.
But there’s a little problem and a little secret, Esther is a Jew. A member of a minority that is in a very vulnerable spot in Persia.
So when the King’s main man, Haman, hatches a plan to kill all the Jews in the kingdom, Queen Esther faces a moment of truth. Will she stand with her people?
Esther’s uncle, Mordecai, appeals to Esther to intervene, to speak to the King on behalf of the Jews. Esther’s initial response is that doing so may very well lead to her death. Mordecai responds in words that have become immortal.
“Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4: 13- 14)
Today the news is showing weeping and traumatized children whose immigrant parents have been picked up for deportation. Children have been left on their own. It is beyond comprehension, and as Bernie Sanders said, “It is evil.”
I am wondering about Melania Trump, whose position has some striking parallels to that of Queen Esther. Melania is an immigrant. True, she is not an immigrant from Central or South America, but from Eastern Europe. She is not Hispanic. But she is an immigrant. And she is a mother. And she worked it for her own parents to immigrate to America.
Is this Melania’s “Esther moment?” Might she stand with her fellow immigrants? Might she risk her own life or welfare to speak and act for the immigrants whose families are being destroyed by Trump policies and ICE? Is there some chance that she has come to her “First Lady” position “for such a time as this?”
I know, it seems a long shot, and we can’t avoid our own responsibility by placing it all on someone else or elsewhere. And I know that some of you will point out that Melania is a legal immigrant while those being rounded up for deportation have not entered the U.S. legally. So not the same. But still . . .
Certainly the grave words of Mordecai need to be directed to all of us. “For if you remain silent at such a time as this . . .”
On the related matter of gun violence, Gloria Steinham came out with an amazing statement. In case you haven’t seen it, I copy it here.
“How about we treat every young man who wants to buy a gun, like every woman who wants to get an abortion — a mandatory 48-hour waiting period, parental permission, a note from his doctor proving he understands what he’s about to do, a video he has to watch about the effects of gun violence . . Let’s close down all but one gun shop in every state make him travel hundreds of miles, take time off work, and stay overnight in a strange town to get a gun. Make him walk through a gauntlet of people holding photos of loved ones who were shot to death, people who call him a murderer and beg him not to buy a gun.”
That might work.
For those of you in suspense on what Esther did . . . she took the risk and spoke out. Haman ended up swinging from the gallows he had built for the Jews.