Okay. I’m going to break an unwritten rule of my own blog. I’m going to comment on an American Presidential election. Why? Because I don’t believe silence is right. And because of one singular phrase uttered during my own generation’s lifetime by the Greatest Generation who – amazingly – just elected this particular President: the words “NEVER AGAIN.”
One can banter about all manner of theories of bitterness and resentment by those who lose an election. But that is not the issue in this one; we in the United States are well acquainted with not getting our way, with having popular votes circumvented by our own Electoral College and those who know “better than us” what is “best for us.” We are also used to and appreciative of the constant swing of the pendulum between the views and efforts of differing political parties which in their radical and sometimes alarming swings to the left or the right typically mean we drive our national policies straight down the middle.
No, this election is about something different. This loss holds in its teeth the sensation that we have finally come to rationalize in ourselves the very worldviews we condemn in others. We have become hypocrites.
And who should we fear the most? The 151 foot, one inch green woman who stands in New York Harbor….because it is she who is not going to let us rationalize this one…It is she who stands in defiance of all of that hateful, misogynist, racist, anti-immigrant, anti-freedom talk.
Her. I’m with her.
Just the Facts, Ma’am
The Statue of Liberty is an immigrant. And she is a woman.
She was a gift from the people great nation of France, dedicated on October 28, 1886, intended by its conceptualist Edouard de Laboulaye – a French political thinker, U.S. Constitution expert, and abolitionist “to commemorate the perseverance of freedom and democracy in the United States and to honor the work of the late president Abraham Lincoln.”
How sad that much of what was intended continues to lay fallow in the fields of American imagination.
“When Laboulaye’s Statue of “Liberty Enlightening the World” was completed, it not only represented democracy but also symbolized American independence and the end of all types of servitude and oppression. A broken shackle and chain lie at the Statue’s right foot. The chain disappears beneath the draperies, only to reappear in front of her left foot, its end link broken… However, although the broken shackle is a powerful image, the meaning behind it was not yet a reality for African Americans in 1886…” (https://www.nps.gov/stli/learn/historyculture/stories.htm )
It may be hard for those of us patting ourselves on the back for having elected an African American President to reconcile truth with our own perceptions. But we need to. We need to own up to our failures, or how else can we fix them?
For while “the Statue emphasized the bitter ironies of America’s professed identity as a just and free society for all people regardless of race… From the time of the Statue’s dedication, attitudes towards the Statue in the African American community were ambivalent and uncertain.” (https://www.nps.gov/stli/learn/historyculture/stories.htm )
This continues today. And it is our own fault.
So marry that mixed message to the conception we all have of what the torch means: a light to the rest of the world bathed in uncertain darkness and political unrest…
Now what good is a light if only “certain others” are invited to warm themselves in its glow?
And what of that plaque at her feet? The one that so clearly and plainly says in perfect, unmistakable English:
“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!”
Nowhere on the plaque does it say “white Anglo Saxon Protestants and/or models only…”
Like I’m saying, the United States is a product of “straight down the middle” historic accidents of fate and arrogantly miscalculated word choice…what a happy accident!
That poem, by the way, was written by another 150-foot woman, Emma Lazarus, author of “The New Colossus.”
And Just the Emotions…(You Know, Being Female and All)
And what is with this running commentary that a woman should never be President? It’s an elected office….nobody is getting married. If a woman President is inadequate then she would be AT LEAST the equal of a good many MALE Presidents, wouldn’t she?
Racism, bigotry, discrimination, nativism/anti-immigrant language and behavior proudly loosed in the national conversation in these United States? And all of that unchallenged by our leaders, everyone urging us to ignore the rhetoric and bullying and hate crimes and give this President a chance? A chance to do WHAT?
THAT? The unmentionable? Where would it end if we are starting with racially motivated deportation forces? Maybe we should ask Native Americans in this country, who are still eagerly awaiting our own departure from this imminent domain/soil. Maybe we should stand the ghosts of our immigrant ancestors alongside ourselves and our current immigrant population and just say, “Back off. These are people not only “too” but people “FIRST.”
And if you think real horror is not being in the middle class, you should see what the rest of the world endures daily.
Deportation forces? Anti-immigrant actions and language? All within the shadow of the Statute of Liberty? What will you do if she fights back?
Discrimination, sexism and bigotry?
Not in my country. Not in my America. I was raised – accurately or not – to believe that the United States was great and powerful because we saw the value in the voices and contributions of all nations, all religions, all races. I was raised to believe it is an ongoing struggle, and that there would be slips and falls and missteps along the way. But that these United States were not afraid to hang our dirty laundry in the front window, to learn from mistakes and seek the advisement of our better angels.
I was raised by The Greatest Generation…the ones that saw the Great Depression, and two World Wars…the ones that saw with their own eyes the very real horrors of what man is capable of doing to his fellow man, and which subsequently said, “Never again.”
And yet here we are.
Since the election, hate crimes are up against all minorities nationwide. Suddenly, we are not so special in the world or in the eyes of the world. And if we continue to not stand up and stop this vitriolic rhetoric and disgraceful endorsement of behavior, we deserve the horrified looks of disgust we are getting from the rest of the world. Period.
We criticize our protesting youth and yammer at them to “just grow up.” Well, fellow Americans, this election is showing they have. They have the guts and moxie to stand up the way our parents claim they did…and by golly I appreciate their passion, their courage, their dedication, their determination to be heard in a whole lot of shouting right now.
This is not about a lost election.
It is about the use of language to incite violence against anyone not white, not male, not already here.
I want to be on record. This is not acceptable. And I am not alone in thinking or saying so. Violent action begets violent action. Civil war is not an antique of our past, but the very real threat of every generation that thinks itself superior to its fellow Americans, a threat that vigilance and honor put down every time the beast raises its ugly head. Those of us raised believing in “Never Again” mean Never Again. And we will put ourselves right in the mix if we are needed to stand up and be counted. Rest assured, we are well aware that six million Jews did not fare so well when they gave a new dictator of Germany a chance to show his true colors.
To the rest of the world, I for one am profoundly embarrassed. Because if this election taught us nothing else, it is that even we do not know what our fellow Americans are really thinking.
Although that works both ways…even if your candidate won.
And there is some good news for those who remain disheartened by our current political circumstances. Not only is a U.S. Presidential term “only” four years, but there is the fact that the opposition party won the popular vote:
“On Friday, November 18, the latest numbers from the nonpartisan Cook Political Report showed that Democratic candidate Clinton has a lead of 1.43 million votes over Trump. With a margin of 1.1 percent over the real estate mogul, the former Secretary of State has 63,049,607 votes to the Republican candidate’s 61,610,484.” (http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/hillary-clinton-won-popular-vote-over-donald-trump-but-by-how-much-w451352 )
That means that over a million Americans feel exactly the same trepidation as you or I, and over a million Americans might just be counted on to stand up to their fellow Americans and say Never Again…To say “Hands off” our sons and daughters, our neighbors and friends, our in-laws and spouses, brothers and sisters, immigrant groups, our women, our independence and our FREEDOM…How dare you threaten the very ideals so many have given their lives for. How very Taliban of you…
Rules of Horror: Most Monsters Shrink From the Full Light of Day
Make no mistake. This was an election founded on revenge: revenge for electing our first African American President, revenge for nominating a woman for President, revenge for considering a socialist leaning-President, revenge for job losses of a spoiled Middle Class too busy pointing out its entitlements while the rest of us rot in poverty, revenge for the constant exploitation of an impoverished lower class whose voice has been pirated for personal use of dual-tongued politicians, revenge for the burst bubbles of an Upper Class who can’t remain Upper enough unless more of us are on the bottom…pure, anger and frustration-fueled revenge.
And actions based on revenge never end well.
We need to wake up. We need to see that we are going through economic changes the scope of which have not impacted the world since World War I. NO ONE is doing well except those who misdirect suspicion with their own horrendous body counts. Like the one we just elected.
“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!”
Bigotry is all about fear. Equality and Freedom are scary if you don’t get to hog all the benefits for yourself. But it is a great diversion from the real issues – the ones that are much tougher to fix and to keep fixed. Those scary-world-is-ending-because-of-all-other-races folks are the people who need to grow up, who never learned to play nicely with others, to share the sand box. I stand with gays and straights, with the LGBT community and their families, I stand with immigrants: male and female and undecided, whether 151 feet tall or in the womb, Mexican, Syrian, all colors, all religions– estoy contigo, tambien…
I stand with minorities. I stand with those who have the courage to say not only Never Again, but “Not in My Country.”
The Statue of Liberty is an immigrant. If we don’t mean what is on that plaque at her feet, if we don’t believe in the spirit in which she came to us, then perhaps we should deport her back to France…before we really piss her off.
She’s green. And she’s packing a chain. Who knows what else she has under her drape. How willing are you to find out?