Just came across an outstanding op-ed in the Washington Post (of all places.) Roberto Suro takes a fresh look at the Statue of Liberty and scrapes off a big chunk of the mythology and misinformation about what she symbolizes.
You’ll recall that during the immigration debates of last year, those of us who favor controlling our borders and enforcing our existing immigration laws were consistently clubbed over the head with the words of Emma Lazarus’ poem which resides on a plaque at the base of the statue. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free . . .”
But as Suro points out, the helpless, destitute refugee is not the typical immigrant. We’re a nation of pioneers and entrepreneurs–not waifs and victims.
Our family legends — and historical fact — teach us that immigrants have been the ambitious and the adventurous, the ones battling storms to get to a better place, and they have rarely been the poorest of the poor, if only because it takes money to travel. Some have made it here with the help of employers or refugee aid programs, but even they had to show more pluck than you’d expect from “huddled masses,” a term that describes those who get left behind better than those who get up and leave.
Do read the whole thing.