The Statue of Liberty stands firm on liberty, not a poem, enlightening the world

4 August 2017
Article category: Highlights. Tags: 

The Statue of Liberty was erected in 1886, when world population was little more than one billion and United States population was 60 million. Since then, United States population has expanded by a factor of five.

The Statue of Liberty was a gift to the United States from France, with the title, "Liberty Enlightening the World". It had nothing whatsoever to do with immigration.

Much to the chagrin of the leftist open borders apologists, the winner of a poetry contest does not dictate American immigration policy. That, of course, refers to the poem "A New Colossus" which Emma Lazarus submitted to a literary contest in 1883. The purpose of the campaign was to raise funds for the completion of the Statue of Liberty's pedestal. The Emma Lazurus plaque (it was never chiseled in the base), "send me your huddled masses" was added ten years after the gift of the Statue during the immigration peak of that age. The plaque is currently displayed inside the Statue of Liberty museum.

The schmaltzy poem assuredly does not define American immigration policy, as clarified in the following three articles:

Michael Savage: 'We're No Longer Living in the Age of the Statue of Liberty', Breitbart, August 4, 2017:

Michael Savage, himself the son of an immigrant, stated on the Michael Savage Show Wednesday, “We’re no longer living in the age of the Statue of Liberty, where we can take in all of the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. No, my friends, those days are over.”

Michael Savage addressed President Donald Trump’s proposed merit-based immigration reforms during his Michael Savage Show monologue on Wednesday. Savage is strongly in favor of Trump’s plan, based on Savage’s belief that, “we’re no longer living in the age of the Statue of Liberty, where we can take in all of the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”...

What he sees as the critical difference between 1883 — when the State of Liberty’s poem was written — and today, is the introduction of the welfare state. His point is that the immigrants of past ages did not have a welfare safety net...

He added that an increasing number of immigrants to this country do not integrate with our culture. Using the Somali population in Minnesota as an example, Savage said, “If the process continues, the culture and tradition of the local population will disappear.”

Michael Savage ended his monologue with a final warning, “It seems awfully coincidental that the new populations would be less likely to resist the borderless, globalist new world order where internationalist hoards and boards of unelected bureaucrats regulate the political and economic lives of everyone on the planet.”

Lesson for CNN's Acosta: Obscure 19th-Century Poets Don’t Set U.S. Immigration Policy, Lifezette, August 3, 2017:

Agenda-driven reporter confuses 'A New Colossus' with a bonafide American founding document.*

However, when it comes to the work of obscure poets from the late 19th century, progressives suddenly become strict constructionists. At least, that’s how it seemed when CNN’s Jim Acosta went nose-to-nose with White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller over President Donald Trump’s newly proposed immigration policy, which would cut legal immigration by half and favor would-be immigrants who can speak English, have been offered high-skill jobs, and who have more impressive résumés.

Acosta argued that the proposed immigration policy violated, not the Constitution, but the poem "The New Colossus," engraved on a plaque and mounted inside the Statue of Liberty in 1903. The poem, which has been voted on by zero members of Congress and ratified by zero states apparently, in the mind of Jim Acosta, does not possess the fluidity of a lesser document like the Constitution...

* Video: CNN Reporter Jim Acosta Gets Completely Destroyed On Immigration, August 2, 2017.


Indeed, it's time to get rid of the poem and the open borders agenda that it alludes to. While the sonnet may be chiseled into the minds of leftist open borders apologists, it was never chiseled into the base of the Statue of Liberty, nor into American immigration law.

The Statue of Liberty's Real Stand, by Roberto Suro, Washington Post, July 5, 2009:

... Let's get rid of The Poem.

I'm talking about "Give me your tired, your poor..." -- that poem, "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus, which sometimes seems to define us as a nation even more than Lady Liberty herself.

Inscribed on a small brass plaque mounted inside the statue's stone base, the poem is an appendix, added belatedly, and it can safely be removed, shrouded or at least marked with a big asterisk. We live in a different era of immigration, and the schmaltzy sonnet offers a dangerously distorted picture of the relationship between newcomers and their new land.

The most enduring meaning conveyed by Lady Liberty has nothing do with immigration, and I say let's go back to that. The statue's original name is "Liberty Enlightening the World," and the tablet the lady holds in her left hand reads "July IV, MDCCLXXVI" to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Lady Liberty celebrates U.S. political values as a force for the betterment of humanity, as well as the bond of friendship among freedom-loving nations. That's a powerful and worthy message...

Born into a wealthy family that traced its roots to New York City's earliest Jewish residents, Lazarus was a social activist as well as an accomplished writer. She lent a hand at the station on Wards Island where destitute immigrants were detained, and she helped set up a training school in the tenements. When Lazarus wrote the poem in 1883, she was a prominent advocate for Jews fleeing the pogroms of imperial Russia.

It took a long time for Lady Liberty and the huddled masses to become completely intertwined. Most of the early mythologizing of the statue played on its patriotic appeal. The poem, written for a charity auction that raised money for the statue's pedestal, was never commercially published and got no mention at the statue's grand opening in 1886. Lazarus died a year later at age 38. In 1903, her friend from New York high society, Georgina Schuyler, had the plaque made to honor Lazarus. There was no ceremony when it was placed on a stairway landing inside the pedestal. For decades it went largely unnoticed, a memorial to a writer and reformer who died young rather than a defining inscription for the statue...

Look back with caution is my advice. Bad poetry makes for bad policy

A Symbol Transformed, by Elizabeth Koed, The Social Contract, Summer, 2005:

When French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi assembled his 152-foot statue atop a pedestal on small Bedloe's Island in 1886, however, the symbol we so readily acknowledge today did not exist. Rather, this gift from the French nation celebrated the successful American experiment in republicanism. It was a gesture of friendship and alliance. It commemorated the ties that bound the two nations together as they strove to achieve their goals of liberty and equality. But over Liberty's first century, this original intent has been transformed into quite a different symbol.

Although attributed to the familiar sonnet by Emma Lazarus, the "Mother of Exiles" symbol has been largely the product of, first, coincidence, and then of many decades of gradual incorporation as the statue became a familiar image that could be used for many purposes. The symbol has strayed far from the original idea.

As historian David McCullough explained, "The idea, of course, is liberty, and liberty is what we Americans have always wanted first of all. It was what the Revolution was fought for, what the country was founded for. 'Hail, Liberty!' was the cry on the day the statue was unveiled." Unfortunately, by the time Liberty turned 100 those lofty ideals were all but lost, replaced in the ceremonial pomp by glitzy tributes to America's immigrant population and the "golden doors."


Statue of Liberty - Liberty Enlightening the World, CAIRCO reference.

Time to Remove Socialist “Huddled Masses” Plaque from Statue of Liberty, by Selwyn Duke, Canada Free Press, February 2, 2018.

Statue of Liberty Declares: STOP IMMIGRATION!, by Tim Murray, April 2, 2019.