Friday, September 30, 2011
The "New" America
Remember all the stories you used to hear about people who came to this country to make a better life for themselves? Your grandparents would tell you about how their parents came here with little more than a penny to their name so that they could live the “American Dream”. There have also always been stories about people coming here just so they can have basic human rights that they were not allowed in their country. They’d risk life and limb to escape a tyranny that persecuted them simply because of their beliefs, race or language they spoke. This would give them little choice but to flee to a country that stood for freedom and would allow them to believe whatever they want as long as they accepted the laws of the country. At least, that is how I have grown up viewing the United States. We’ve always been willing to accept those that come here searching for a better life. After all, isn’t that why the plaque on the Statue of Liberty reads “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”? After watching the most recent debate of Republican presidential candidates, I get the impression that many of them don’t see this country the same way as I do. I think that quote from New Colossus says a lot about the history of our great nation and without that kind of acceptance of those who were not born here, we would be less of a country. Michelle Bachmann specifically seems to take issue with Lady Liberty here saying “What works is to have people come into the United States with a little bit of money in their pocket”. She might as well have included requiring people who look and believe the same way she does as well. I hope that doesn’t represent the way all of the Republican candidates feel and I especially hope it doesn’t represent the way their constituents feel. Alas, I fear that these hopes are misplaced. After all, these Republican voters are the very same people that gave the loudest and proudest ovation during another debate when it was mentioned that during Rick Perry’s tenure in Texas 234 criminals were executed and in another debate booed an active soldier serving overseas to defend our country when he appeared on the screen to ask a question about “Don’t ask, don’t tell” being repealed. I will continue to hope and to fight so that the America I remember hearing so many stories about will remain intact, because I fear if I don’t, then we may as well remove the Statue of Liberty and the words of New Colossus from Liberty Island and replace it with a sniper tower and barbed wire fence to keep out those without the proper “requirements”.