Standing tall in New York Harbor, Emma Lazarus’ poem The New Colossus is proudly displayed on the Statue of Liberty:
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
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, said “Well, of course, that poem was referring back to people coming from Europe, where they had class-based societies, where people were considered wretched if they weren’t in the right class.”
He’s right of course, the focus of the gift from France to the US was European migrants, those wishing to flee the tyranny of a class stratified continent and seek opportunity in America and Cuccinelli’s words illuminate Trump’s America far more clearly than Lady Liberty’s torch. How would Trump and his ilk “Make America great again?” By returning to our roots.
The Eighteenth Century “Noble Experiment” that the fledgling Thirteen Colonies planted, nurtured and fed was a colossus’ step forward in both governance and freedom. The United States, as the rebel nation was dubbed, opened a gate to freedom for the European immigrants and their descendants: Just so long as they were the “Right” kind of people.
A return to The United States’ roots gives Rights to men. White men. Christian, white men. Propertied, Christian, white men. Propertied, Christian, white men who could own others, including their descendants, as slaves in perpetuity. Propertied, Christian, white, slave-holding men who had legal power to forbid or allow their wives to do or not do what the men saw fit. Propertied, Christian, white, slave-holding, spouse tyrannizing men who knew they were God’s chosen people, an oligarchy of Manifest Destiny.
Trump and Cuccinelli hearken back to the Golden Age of Despots, to a time where an incredibly small minority of
White Right People had power and ruled the land. Ken Cuccinelli’s words concerning Lady Liberty’s focus, his desire to rewrite Emma Lazarus’ poem and his insistence that we look back rather than forward is a shining beacon of the values Trump’s MAGA state holds dear.
May the USA return to being a Mother of exiles that glows with world-wide welcome and not a land that worships and is dominated by propertied, “Christian,” white, “slave-holding,” spouse tyrannizing men.