Statue of Liberty, White Supremacy, and the Immigrant Question

The truth about the Statue of Liberty and that poem and everything.

The Statue of Liberty has been a symbol of American openness to immigration since it was built. However, modern White Supremacists want us to believe it was something else. I found one example of that on the Internet, writtne by Hunter Wallace with the tags “Identity” and “The Jewish Question,” and titled “David Brooks: The Great War for National Identity”:

…millions of Jews came to the United States during the Great Wave. Much of the early 20th century is the story of how these Jews rose from working class occupations into the American middle class before ascending into the highest levels of the American elite.

By the mid–20th century, America’s traditional Anglo-Protestant elite was being replaced by a more cosmopolitan New York-based Jewish elite. This new elite wasn’t and never has been exclusively Jewish (it included, for example, Catholics like the Kennedys), but was predominantly so, enough for Jewish intellectuals to have a major impact on American culture.

Around the mid–20th century, Jewish intellectuals began to change American culture and rewrite American national identity. They introduced new concepts like “racism” and new taboos like “anti-Semitism.” They concocted the myth that America was “a nation of immigrants.” Previously, Americans had no clue that there was even such a thing as “racism,” or that “anti-Semitism” was immoral, or that “we are all >…immigrants.” As Jews became more concentrated in culturally sensitive institutions (i.e., the elite news media, top universities, the entertainment media), they introduced an entirely new moral code.

The Statue of Liberty is one of my favorite examples:

“The Statue of Liberty myth provides a good case study of the shift to a post-WASP, consensus-liberal version of America. In current parlance, the Statue of Liberty is viewed as a symbol of the openness of America to immigration, and the plaque at its base by Emma Lazarus, which urges other nations to “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses,” is believed to be organically connected to the statue and its liberal-universalist narrative. Unfortunately, reality is not so simple. Lazarus’s poem was not present when the statue was inaugurated in October 1886. Nor did President Grover Cleveland make any mention of the statue’s significance for immigrants in his acceptance speech.

Some Americans, especially Protestant clergymen, greeted the gift of the statue cautiously. In addition, the statue was often viewed less as a beacon for immigrants than as a guardian of American purity. As for Emma Lazarus’s oft-quoted poem, it was first erected on the interior wall of the immense statue in 1903 owing to the financial contribution of one Georgina Schuyler. Schuyler had donated the bronze plaque in memory of Lazarus, an obscure poet of Jewish ancestry whose work she admired. Not until the 1930s did the contemporary myth of a statute to immigrants arise – exactly the period in which the cosmopolitan ideas of America’s organic intellectuals were starting to win wider elite acceptance. In turn, this attitude change prompted officials to relocate Lazarus’s obscure poem to its current position at the base of the statue. …”

You can read all about this and much more in Eric P. Kaufmann’s … The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America. I highly recommend it.

Kauffman is a fairly obscure figure, but he seems to have promulgated the myth that America, as a country, was made up at the time of the American Revolution of almost entirely white British Protestants. That is a myth that ignores the non-Protestants or at least non-mainstream Protestants such as Quakers, Shakers, and various other sundry groups, Catholics, non-religious, etc. white people from Britain, all the non-British that came from Europe, all the Africans who were here non-voluntarily (about 20% of the population in the 1770s), and the Native Americans (about 100,000 within the colonial boundaries, but a strong majority in the western areas being settled at the time). White British Protestants were probably a minority in the land between the coast and the farthest extent of settlement (up to the French territories) at the time of the revolution, and that proportion of society certainly shrank further in the decades immediacy following the Revolution when additional lands occupied mainly by Native Americans, but also French and Spanish and others, were added to the US. And, it shrunk father when immigration from across Europe including many Germans, and across the rest of the world, including, obviously, more Africans, and many from the Middle East and Asia, occurred as well.

Roughly speaking, by 1790, English members of the US population was about just over half of the total, with non British Europeans being about 10%. British-Protestants may have been just barely a majority, but just. We were not a pure land of wasps at the time, or any time since.

The Statue of Liberty was at the time it was built, and is recognized today as having been built as, a monument to American Liberty, as in the American War of Independence. It dates to the centenary celebration of the Declaration of Independence, more or less. From Wikipedia:

The torch-bearing arm was displayed at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876, and in Madison Square Park in Manhattan from 1876 to 1882. Fundraising proved difficult, especially for the Americans, and by 1885 work on the pedestal was threatened by lack of funds. Publisher Joseph Pulitzer, of the New York World, started a drive for donations to finish the project and attracted more than 120,000 contributors, most of whom gave less than a dollar.

As part of the fundraising effort, Emma Lazarus, who was at the time heavily involved in helping refugees who had left eastern Europe under pogroms there against Jews, was asked to write an original poem. Clearly, the idea of freedom and liberty and the promise of America were tied together in the minds of all the people involved in erecting this statue, which is why the poem linked to both the statue and the fund raising was about the openness of America to receive the tired, poor, huddles masses.

The original manuscript for the poem, “The New Colossus,” is curated by the American Jewish Historical Society, which is always happy, I’m sure, to do its part in the Great American Jewish Conspiracy to annoy 21st century white supremacists.

Here is the poem:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Stephen Miller, representing the White House and Donald Trump, gave the White House Press corps a pretty straight forward White Supremacist line. Me? I’d rather have the coarse and belligerant Scramucci than this guy. Well, neither, actually.

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Kudos to you for actually tackling something Miller said. CNN has resorted to talking about what Miller did at high school summer camp and that he ran for student government on a platform of leaving garbage on the ground.

I'm surprised you can hear over the sound of the dogwhistles in the text from Kaufmann.

"Mike", for example still has the dogwhistling ringing in his ears.

"Kudos to you for actually tackling something Miller said. CNN has resorted to talking about what Miller did "

Ironic coming from the camp that chanted "Lock her up"....

Even if the Statue of Liberty were originally a symbol of ethnic purity (which was never the case in America, colonial or later) or was even a symbol of white Protestant supremacy, so what? Ms Liberty certainly no longer stands for that and has not done so for more than a century. This is just another example of right-wingers looking backward to some imaginary golden age instead of looking forward to increasingly living up to the American ideals.

By Tyvor Winn (not verified) on 03 Aug 2017 #permalink

I thiought she was French,

#5 " ... American ideals ."
Wondering what the fuck they might be.

Due to the endemic egocentrism of the average USian as presented internationally "American ideals" are "Whatever my ideal of ideal is".

NOTE: people can act differently as individuals than as in-groups and they can act differently to individuals and out-groups or other in-groups. Hence the "presented" qualifier.

"I thiought she was French,"

Yeah, but she has an anchor, baby.

A beacon for immigrants is not the meaning of the statue of liberty. It is a message outwards of liberty.

"A beacon for immigrants is not the meaning of the statue of liberty."

Did you fail every aspect of your education?

And you heard her say that, "mike"? Or was that yanked from your bumhole?

Did the Statue of Liberty enter in to debate when they restricted immigration in the 1920s?
Even before that, the immigration regime operating at Ellis Island was contrary to the poem, rejecting the poor and wretched refuse(likely to be a public charge or carrying a communicable disease).
Arguably even the 'yearning to breathe free' was ignored as anarchists was a category that was refused entry.

Did that question really have nothing to do with your claim? Even before the bill of rights, the USA operated contrary to the document. Therefore the USA does not exist and it was a slave state
Unarguably, none of that bum gravy you poured out there actually supported your claim. It just showed that the USA's ideals were not reached. Just that they had at that time an ASPIRATION to that level.

Now you aspire to pretend you never wanted to be any good in the first place...

You know the poem wasn't installed in the 1920s right? Your whole analogy breaks down there.

"significant reductions in wages for blue collar workers, massive displacement of African American and Hispanic workers, as well as the displacement of immigrant workers from previous years who oftentimes compete directly against new arrivals who are being paid even less.”

White supremacist dog whistle from the new Hitler.

Who are you talking to now?

PS the poem was part of a campaign to raise funds for the monument since it was not going to be completed without a cash injection. About 12,000 people donating on average less than a dollar was raised. That poem was part of the money raising thing.

PPS so what if it wasn't in 1920? If it was not meant to be relevant, why did they put it up there and leave it for near 100 years with no comment and ALSO make so many pats on the back over that very specific poem?

Because people back then, even rightwingers, wanted to be something rather than, having failed to reach the sky, say that they never wanted it and it was never a goal.

Spoiled milk.

"Your whole analogy breaks down there."

Nope, it makes it even more relevant. The USA had the ideas before they actually singed the original creation of the union, and despite that, failed to live up to what they had previously agreed to do, showing that not having that lived up to that ideal was irrelevant to whether the ideal existed or not.

You're a seriously weird fucking retard, "Mike".

Where was the poem before 1903, "Mike"? You've said where the plaque was, but where was the poem? It was written three years before the statue was complete, so where was it before the plaque?

Shelley said poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world. Jim Acosta took him literally.

Shelley does say that downstream of the poets are the people who focus on utility.

And so what?

Homer Simpson once said weaselling out of things is what separates us from the animals. Except the weasels.

Why are you trying to weasel out of the truth?

What makes people like Stephen Miller, Steve Bannon, and Donald Trump act as if they are members of some superior race and culture? Can you imagine what a tribe descended from these sires would be like? Imagine a tribe of highly unattractive, humorless sociopaths and psychopaths with the emotional maturity of children, a tribe without honor, who must win at any cost, lying, cheating, and hurting without regard to the wants or needs of others; a tribe for whom science is little more than some annoying guild to be exploited and then ignored. Somehow that doesn't sound very superior to me. Sounds more like Lord of the Flies, only worse.