“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!”
One of the bloggers I follow commented on these famous words which are forever linked to the Statue of Liberty and a particular concept of what it is to be America. The context is the US Presidential elections and, in particular, the prospect of Donald Trump and his worrying immigration policies being elected.
So is this a noble sentiment – or is it sentimental idealism? Is Lady Liberty an invitation, a boast or a rebuke?
Another reading of that famous verse could be that people can only “breathe free” in the USA. A real idealist would yearn for people to be able to breathe free everywhere.
People aren’t trying to get into the US or Australia or the UK or Germany or Sweden because those countries are so free (and so rich) – they’re doing it because their own countries are so oppressive, war-torn and poor.
A presidential candidate who really wanted to curb immigration would have a policy of promoting peace, stability, civil liberties, the rule of law and economic growth throughout the world. Either that or making the US such a bloody awful place that nobody would want to go there – which brings us back to Donald Trump.
Picture credit: Microsoft Clipart