Liberty Enlightening the World

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The New Colossus
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!”
Emma Lazarus (1883)

Leftists who are currently celebrating Emma Lazarus of course know little about her. She was a most remarkable woman for her time and place. She was a proto-Zionist who helped found the Society for the Colonization and Improvement for Eastern European Jews, and that looked to the establishment of a home land for Jews in what is now Israel. Leftists of course are appalled at that example of open borders immigration, leftists never being known for consistency.  She came from a family of Sephardic Jews who had resided in New York long before the American Revolution.

The Statue of Liberty, a gift from France, was entitled Liberty Enlightening the World.  It was intended to celebrate the abolition of slavery.  However, there was a catch to the gift:  Americans would have to raise the funds to build the pedestal of the Statue.  The poem of Ms. Lazarus was part of fundraising efforts in 1883.  She also wanted the poem to highlight the Russian Jews pouring into New York City to begin a new life in the New World.  Emma would live to see the Statue dedicated in 1886, but sadly died of cancer the next year, age 38.  Her poem would be inscribed on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty in 1903.  Her friend Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, a daughter of writer Nathaniel Hawthorne, was inspired by the poem to found the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne, dedicated to caring for the destitute suffering from incurable cancer.

If we could ask Miss Lazarus about her poem, I suspect that she would say that it was a celebration of the fact that so many people have found a new home in America, and that legal immigration poses complexities that are for the representatives of the people to decide and not poets.

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5 Comments

  1. “Leftists of course are appalled at that example of open borders immigration…”

    Alain Finkielkraut in his essay, Au Nom de l’Autre: Réfléxions sur l’antisémitisme qui vient (In the Name of the Other: Reflections on the Coming Anti-Semitism) in which he has taken aim at the left, explaining that anti-Jewish hatred of today comes not from those nostalgic for Pétain and Vichy but rather the activists of the anti-globalization and anti-racism movements. argues that European unity is constructed around a series of ‘never agains.’ No more war, nor power, nor empire, nor nationalism. Progressive Europe has disavowed its embarrassing past. This makes it ill at ease with a state, Israel, that clings to its borders just as Europe renounces its own, that nurtures its army just as Europe demilitarizes, and that must combat implacable enemies just as Europe denies such things exist.

    I believe there is an element of truth in that and not only in Europe.

  2. Yes, and also that pride in being modern rejects patriotism along with nationalism. it is also seen in the American left being non-plussed by the likes of non-progressive voters.

  3. Anzlyne wrote, “[T]hat pride in being modern rejects patriotism along with nationalism.”

    Finkielkraut is rather good on this. Writing in the Jewish magazine, L’Arche, he argues that traditionally anti-Semites were Nationalists: “the French who worship a cult of their identity and who love each other in opposition to Jews.” “Contemporary anti-Semitism,” however, is the domain of the French who “do not love each other, who think in terms of a post-national future, who rid themselves of their Frenchness to better identify with the poor of the Earth, and who, through Israel, group Jews in the camp of the oppressors.”

  4. …who rid themselves of their Frenchness to better identify with the poor of the Earth,.. what a dumb thought if true, that people think that denying their patrimony (could insert England or Russia or Egypt or anywhere) aligns them more completely with the poor “of the Earth”. They have not realized the transcendency 🙂 of poverty! it crosses all lines of culture and time— as Jesus said… we will “always have the poor with us.”
    We also will always have filial piety as long as we can hold on the the concept of mother and dad.

  5. Anzlyne
    You are right, of course, but I sense Pierre-Andre Taguieff is right in identifying a movement consisting of “neo-Christian humanitarianism,” “third-worldists,” and anti-globalization activists. This movement “draws nourishment from a myth and feeds it in return.” The myth “is constructed on the demonized figure of ‘Jews-Israelis-Zionists’ supported by the ‘Americans’ and in opposition to that, no less mythical, of the Palestinian Arab ‘innocent victims.’” On one side, Taguieff continues, stands the “cosmopolitan Satan,” the unholy trinity of United States/Israel/The West. On the other side stands the “dominated and the oppressed.” Thus the new judeophobia recycles old stereotypes such as the rich Jew and the dominating Jew under the “varnish of progressivism.” The Jew is once more the stand-in for capitalism, imperialism, cosmopolitanism, indeed the whole economic order.

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