By Selwyn Duke
With storied statues having come down from sea to shining sea the past year, it’s time for the same to happen with something somewhat newer: the socialist-born plaque in the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal.
Yeah, it’s the one with the “huddled masses” bit. There are good reasons for it to be removed, too — above and beyond the fact that our whole nation is being turned into a huddled mass.
The plaque contains the poem “The New Colossus,” written by socialist writer Emma Lazarus. It didn’t come with the statue, a gift from France unveiled in 1886, but was slapped on smack dab in the middle of the “Progressive Era” (in 1903). This was also the period that gave us other things as American as Lazarus’ poem, such as entry into WWI, the income tax and the notion that the Constitution could be considered a “living document” (Woodrow Wilson loved to bloviate about this).
The poem remained relatively obscure for decades, and we’d be well served if it stayed that way. Alas, though, it’s now well known. What’s not so well known is that the Statue of Liberty had nothing to do with immigration. That the poem helps create the confusion that it does is enough of a reason to remove it, but there are others as well:
- Many now see the poem’s most famous line, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,” as a policy statement. In fact, former secretary of state Madeleine Albright (Halfbright?) tweeted last year, “There is no fine print on the Statue of Liberty. America must remain open to people of all faiths & backgrounds. #RefugeesWelcome.”
“Fine print,” of course, is the way you speak of law or a contract. That the poem is being used this way should give everyone pause.
- “The New Colossus” was an example of 19th-century virtue signaling. It’s also more than troubling that policy is being influenced by sentiments that most don’t even know have a socialist pedigree. In fact, as a socialist, Lazarus could be seen as having been an (unwitting) enemy of America.
Having said this, she’s not the only 19th-century socialist shaping policy — there’s Bernie Sanders, too.
- Today, the huddled masses aren’t yearning to breathe free; they’re yearning for free stuff. Immigration ain’t what it used to be, and romanticizing immigrants distorts reality; being people, they include the good, the bad and the ugly. I’d sooner see the romanticizing of citizens, though truth beats incessant pep talks any day.
- Created by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, the Statue of Liberty was originally intended to symbolize the principles of international republicanism; again, it had nothing to do with immigration. And as with the Constitution, we’d do well to return to original intent.
This is especially true because the huddled-masses bit now buttresses what I dubbed immigrationism, the bizarre notion that immigration is always good, always necessary and should be the one constant in an ever-changing universe of policy. Yet with 85 to 90 percent of today’s immigrants hailing from the Third World and 70 to 90 percent of them voting for freedom-squelching Democrats upon naturalization, there’s an irony here: The phenomenon now represented by the Statue of Liberty is destroying liberty.
This, of course, is why leftists love today’s immigration. If most of these huddled masses voted GOP, the Democrats would have long ago changed the statue’s plaque to read, “America is full. Stay wherever the heck you are.”
Regardless, immigration is far from as American as apple pie. In fact, 21 years after Lazarus’ poem was placed on the statue, immigration was severely restricted via the enactment of the National Origins Act in 1924. Back then our population was only 114 million, mind you.
Now, having almost tripled, it’s 327 million — and counting.
And with our stable fertility rate, it only grows because of immigration. When will we say enough is enough? When our population is 400 million? A half-billion? One billion? George Soros may want to make our population stats look like his bank account, but, c’mon, really, talk about “teeming shores.”
This is yet another reason why the socialist plaque should be removed from the Statue of Liberty. Oh, don’t worry, I’m not proposing it be destroyed. To echo the opponents of Confederate monuments, it can be put in a museum — where it belongs.
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