"The poem you are referring to is not part of the original Statue of Liberty. It was added later.”
-- Stephen Miller, White House spokesman, dismissing "The New Colossus" poem about immigrants
To paraphrase the great Molly Ivins when she wrote about Pat Buchanan's culture war speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention, Stephen Miller's press conference yesterday probably sounded better in the original German.
A quarter century later, they haven't changed, still battling against immigrants. Not even illegal immigrants, but in this case, legal ones! Just as a starter, this position he made above trying to rewrite reality about the Statue of Liberty is one taken by many white supremacists and passed along on their websites. Just a very quick historical note to Mr. Miller and any of his like-minded friends on the point of the words being "added later." So too was "Under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance.
(The words "Under God" were "added later" to the Pledge of Allegiance nine years after it was adopted. So, perhaps by the standards of Stephen Miller and pals, God can be ignored in the Pledge of Allegiance, and the Almighty has no meaning to its intent.)
And as long as Mr. Miller and his white supremacist followers -- unless it's the other way around -- are so concerned about the lack of importance for anything "added later," it's worth noting that the Bill of Rights and all 27 Amendments were "added later" to the United States Constitution. These include the Second Amendment which so many on the far right and white supremacists swear by, and also the First Amendment which allows them to say such stupid things without fear of incarceration or being thrown into the loony bin. Moreover, as the inveterate Chris Dunn pointed out, 37 of the 50 states were "added later" to the United States As was Washington, D.C. as capital of the nation.
By the way, so is water when you make Cup o' Soup. Man, if Stephen Miller thinks the concept of "added later" means you can dismiss its importance, I'd like to see him try eating that dry mixture on its own. Maybe in white supremacist world, but not in any delicious culinary universe I know.
Of course, given that the Statue of Liberty was a gift from France, its "intent" is not from the Founding Fathers or the U.S. government in the first place, but rather...France. When the words of Emma Lazarus were added to the Statue, that in and of itself is a specific act and absolutely clear intent of the government. Besides, why do Miller and his merry band of white supremacists think it was put on the water's edge to greet incoming ships in the first place? If it wasn't to welcome immigrants, they could have just put it in Nebraska, which needs a tourist attraction a whole lot more than New York.
And as long as we're dealing with history, reality and facts, the poem "The New Colossus" was written as a donation of artworks at an auction raising funds that would allow for constructing the pedestal under the Statue of Liberty -- three years before the the Statute itself was dedicated. So, in fact, it is part of the history of the Statue of Liberty pedestal on which it is engraved, before the pedestal even existed!!
Alas, all of this is really pretty much for naught. For all the Sturm und Drang from the White House and the belligerent Stephen Miller yesterday on this anti-immigrant bill, reporter Sam Stein of the Huffington Post commented on The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell that the proposal has NO chance of passage. And every other panelist agreed. But at least the administration got its dog whistle out to the base, and its white supremacist wing. However many dwindling dogs there are.
But still, just as a reminder --
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!"
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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