This week during a press briefing on the Trump administration’s latest immigration bill, CNN’s Jim Acosta had an interesting exchange with White House Senior Policy Advisor Stephen Miller. It was an eye opening look into the mindset of this administration and those pulling the strings. The public reaction to it was another example of how divided we are as a country and exactly how misguided many have become.
When Acosta compared the verbiage in the new bill to “The New Colossus,” the poem written on the base of the Statue of Liberty, Miller attempted to rewrite history by stating the words were added later. In doing so, he was insinuating that the poem and its meaning had no bearing on American history or policy.
I grew up in the ’80s, and I remember “Liberty Weekend.” That was the celebration and rededication of the Statue on its 100th anniversary. I remember that poem being read more times than I could count, I also recall having to memorize it in the 5th grade. Ronald Reagan, during that event, said that America was made up of “a special kind of people from every corner of the world, who had a special love for freedom.” He understood the fabric and DNA of this country.
He understood what made us.
Make no mistake, America is in distress. We are on the verge of forgetting our past and forfeiting our future to the ideology of white nationalism. We live in a nation founded, built, and loved by immigrants, yet today its part of our history many wish to deny. By attacking and demonizing the immigrants of today, we till up the roots of those who came before that made us who we are.
Miller’s disregard for the words is shared by many in the administration. His disdain for the poem is also being celebrated by many who support this president. We have slipped so far in the last 24 months that not even the Statue of Liberty is sacred to many amongst us anymore. A statement that would have gotten you punched in the face by the average Tea-Party “patriot” a few years ago is now a rallying cry to keep out brown people.
Had an advisor to President Obama said something similar about the words “In God, We Trust” on our nation’s currency, the outrage on the right would have been swift and vitriolic. There would have been thousands of people in American flag shirts with crosses in one hand and Obama effigies in the other marching on the Mall of Washington.
Bigotry against immigrants isn’t itself a new phenomenon in America. It’s the overt disdain for immigration that permeates this administration and its supporters that are so shocking. For the justification for this brand of nationalism to be coming from the oval office is not only disheartening it’s disturbing.
The ease at which thousands can disregard generations worth of precedence and American tradition only proves how many steps we have taken backward as a nation. Not only does “Give me your tired, your poor,” no longer remind us of who and what we were, but the prevailing sentiment among many is also that those words never had any meaning to the fabric of America, which is patently and reprehensibly false!
Saying that the new views on immigration are about safety and security is one thing, but to discredit over two-hundred and forty years of American history is another. Justifying bigotry by rewriting history will not and should not stand.
Photo: flickr/Ana Paula Hirama
This post originally appeared at: The Good Men Project