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As Long as We Remember...

July 5, 2018

The New Colossus is a poem, not an argument

Ken Kellar

The New Colossus, written in 1883 and cast in bronze and mounted to the Statue of Liberty in 1903 (17 years after the statue was completed), is not a founding document, or a legal document, or the basis of an argument.


It’s in vogue these days to demand open borders and unfettered access to our country by quoting a few lines from the old poem, usually, "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”


Those quoting those lines often act as if they are describing a law of nature, or a binding mandate we must follow. How about, “Good fences make good neighbors?”


No one ever voted for the prose of The New Colossus. No legislative body debated those words and voted to accept them. It’s a bloody poem!


When someone quotes the poem that is all they are doing, quoting a poem. They aren’t quoting The Declaration of Independence or The Constitution. They aren’t citing the Greek, British, Roman and French philosophers among others, who inspired our founders. They are not quoting legal precedent. It’s a few emotional lines penned by Emma Lazarus one evening.


Someone might retort: “The Declaration of Independence is also a set of emotional lines penned by one person.” And I would disagree.


Thomas Jefferson wasn’t a freelance writer. He was an elected legislator of Virginia. He was appointed to draft a document by a committee formed from the elected or appointed representatives from all 13 existing British colonies on this continent. Mr. Jefferson’s work was debated and edited and finally signed by representatives of each colony, and then enacted with the blood of soldiers and the suffering of the colonial citizenry.


The poem on the Statue of Liberty is not “who we are.” A quick perusal of our nation’s immigration history shows that for the last 150 years we have had quite strict and disciplined control of immigration, and during that time the French decided to honor the beacon of hope our nation provided. There is no plaque on the Statue of Liberty saying, “Stop turning away immigrants with tuberculosis.” It’s only in my lifetime that open borders are being touted. We went through great periods of time where numbers and quality of immigrants were controlled. Literacy tests were imposed at times, as well as physicals.


Tuberculosis did not exist in the states when I was a child. It is now becoming common. Our public schools are becoming psych wards and detention centers rather than places of learning. Of course, the collapse of two-parent families is a major factor, as well as the immigrant burden. The knowledge, health and productivity of Americans is plummeting (before quoting a high worker productivity figure, one must factor in all the “disabled,” welfare recipients and able-bodied teenagers who are not working.)


A country can have open borders. A country can have lavish welfare programs. A country cannot have both. If it tries, it will die. It is killing Europe. It is killing us.


Is there something in the soil of Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador that prevents property ownership? That prevents the recognition of human rights? That prevents a citizenry from fighting and suppressing graft and corruption? That prevents the opposition to tyranny? That prevents prosperity and happiness?


I have heard many politicians complaining that we are engaging with North Korea to eliminate its nukes but are neglecting the dictator’s civil rights abuses. Of course we are because the nukes worry us much more.


North Korea civil rights abuses are bad, but they are not harming U.S. citizens in any direct or even indirect way (unless you visit that place). Civil rights abuses in our hemisphere are literally killing American citizens. Killing via drunk drivers, murderers, and drugs.


The quality of our schools and health care is being brought down by the immigrant flood. Welfare expenses are magnified. Wages are suppressed and first-job opportunities are snatched from our youths. Yet I hear no one discussing, or debating, the option for our country to intervene for regime change, or to put pressure on Central and South American countries to catch up to embrace the promise and plenty of Western Civilization.


Imagine this conversation between two elite Americans: Husband, “Let’s go to Tuscany for vacation and stay in a different villa each night as we visit vineyards by day.” Wife, “What about a Columbia coffee plantation trip?” Husband, “Or…. maybe a Guatemalan vacation? Days at the beach, then some city nightlife and restaurant action followed by some drives in the country to enjoy exotic fruit smoothies?” Wife. “So many choices!”


Why does the above scenario seem so ridiculous? Why do we need to send missionaries down south with armed escorts from the airports to their work sites? Does it have to stay that way?


People recently have been condemning our border security actions because processing those caught illegally entering our nation involved separating adults (assumed to be the parents) from the children they dragged across our borders. The upset people wanted it stopped. Mr. Trump stopped it and now they are complaining about families being detained together. As an alternative what are the complainers offering…..?


Listen to what is not being discussed. There seems to be a passive acceptance that our southern neighbors are doomed to remain schmucks, and the only solution is to ship everyone here. It is a formula for our national suicide.


We have plenty of laws and documents that define our nation. The New Colossus is not one of them. It is a sentimental poem. It is definitely not an argument.


Woodsboro - Walkersville Times
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