Statue not an im­mi­grant bea­con

The Washington Times Daily - - EDITORIAL - CARL H. MID­DLE­TON Ar­ling­ton

In “Not ev­ery­one can join the Amer­i­can na­tion” (Web, Aug. 8) Clif­ford May ar­gues that CNN’s Jim Acosta was wrong to say that Emma Lazarus’ poem, “The New Colos­sus,” in­scribed on the Statue of Lib­erty, set a U.S. pol­icy of ad­mit­ting im­mi­grants con­sid­ered the “wretched refuse” of for­eign lands. Mr. May ar­gues on pru­den­tial grounds, but there is a his­tor­i­cal ar­gu­ment, too.

Edouard de Laboulaye, the “Fa­ther of the Statue of Lib­erty,” was a French politi­cian whose life’s mis­sion was to push for a re­turn to democ­racy when France was ruled by Em­peror Napoleon III. Laboulaye raised money from pri­vate French cit­i­zens to build a statue ti­tled “Lib­erty En­light­en­ing the World.” The donors wanted France (and the world) to copy the United States’ lim­ited con­sti­tu­tional gov­ern­ment, rep­re­sented by the “light” of the torch held by the god­dess of lib­erty, Lib­er­tas. Nei­ther Laboulaye nor the French donors had any in­ten­tion of prompt­ing a mass im­mi­gra­tion of the “tired and poor” to America. At the 1886 ded­i­ca­tion of the statue, Pres­i­dent Grover Cleve­land said, “... a stream of light shall pierce the dark­ness un­til lib­erty shall en­lighten the world.”

America should fo­cus on pre­serv­ing its Con­sti­tu­tion against as­saults by ji­hadists, op­po­nents of free speech, and so forth, and should not al­low Emma Lazarus to hi­jack the Statue of Lib­erty do­nated by French repub­li­cans.

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