Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Post-Independence-Day thoughts, 2014 (inspired by thousands of Central American children crossing our southern border into Texas and Arizona)

Many years ago, when speaking to a gathering of the Daughters of the American Revolution, President Franklin D. Roosevelt shocked his audience by beginning his address with the greeting, “Fellow immigrants.”

Daughters of the American Revolution aside, we used to be proud that we were a nation of immigrants, but some Americans today would rather not be reminded. Some Americans would rather lock the doors and never allow another person to enter.

I ask them a question: Who tried to keep your ancestors out?

Nobody, that’s who.

Some people, if they had their way, would rewrite the poem on the base of the Statue of Liberty to read as follows:


The New New Colossus
(with apologies to Emma Lazarus)


Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Stopper of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide rejection; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. “Spare me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Do not send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I douse my lamp beside the golden door!”



Emma Lazarus, and my ancestors, and theirs, must be weeping in their graves.

9 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

Ouch. We too are largely a nation of immigrants. And have treated the original inhabitants of this country very, very badly. And continue to do so.
And successive governments (of both major parties) are bending over backwards to be a cruel, heartless and offensive to immigrants as they can be. Unless those immigrants have money.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Surprisingly, when you turn the clock right back you find that England is also a nation of immigrants. Most long established English families have French and Viking blood coursing through their veins. Even so when I was a boy I grew up in an all-white traditional English community - we never saw any black or Asian people. The European Union has opened up the floodgates to unrestrained immigration from Europe while our brothers and sisters from the old British Commonwealth are being turned away.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

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All Consuming said...

Trace back far enough and we're almost all immigrants at some point. I cannot abide the way governments and people conveniently forget this fact, it suited them all well enough at one point. Even those seeking asylum, sanctuary from imminent death get short shrift these days. A superbly composed post rhymes. Thank you.

Flyaway said...

What we need is to re open Ellis Island and process those wanting into our country in the same way they did it back then. What were the requirements then?

Snowbrush said...

My oh my, but you're surprisingly liberal on the issue! Such things are why I don't wear the label liberal, (although it would be cold July day in Plains when I voted for a Republican). Tell me, though, would there be NO number of people who could come across the border not knowing English, having no way to support themselves, and breaking our immigration laws that others work so hard to obey, that would cause you to rethink your open borders position? In the first six months of this year, 50,000 unaccompanied children and 39,000 families have crossed, creating havoc and lawlessness in border states, so, I ask you, what if the number was ten times that (it's already double last year, so ten times the number is surely conceivable if we continue to do nothing), or what if a few terrorists came along with them, or what if you owned a home on the border with Mexico, or else you saw your taxes go up significantly to support them (SOME way has to be found to feed, clothe, and house all these impoverished people with no work skills); would you still feel as open and loving?

rhymeswithplague said...

The comments continue to trickle in.

E.C., New South Wales in Australia was a British penal colony; Georgia in the U.S.A. was a home for insolvent debtors in English prisons. There's plenty of cruelty and heartlessness to go around at both ends of the journeys.

Y.P., I don't want to be a liebster or a lobster.

A.C., thank you for the compliment.

Fly, I read that in all the years it existed Ellis Island processed a total of 193,000 people. It probably couldn't handle today's influx.

Snow, you are incorrect. I am NOT surprisingly liberal nor do I have an "open borders position." Far from it. Actually, I favor controlled growth (not the current uncontrolled chaotic mess we seem to be in) and enforcement of the laws on the books. But if America is as terrible as some people would have us believe, why do so many people want to come here?

Flyaway said...

"A new approach to immigration, no doubt, is needed, but it will be inadequate so long as we continue to project a Progressive message at home and abroad. Without comprehensive reform at the ballot box and that reins in dependency and promotes a culture of individual, familial, and civic responsibility, we will become, in the spirit of Emma Lazarus’s poem, more tired and poor, unable to welcome others to our shore, the political tempest at home having dimmed our lamp of liberty, and shut our golden door." David Corbin & Matt Parks

Snowbrush said...

"if America is as terrible as some people would have us believe, why do so many people want to come here? "

You mean me, perhaps, since I'm very critical of my country. Well, the answer is that most people in America have enough to eat, and the cops do their jobs fairly well most of the time.