Attack of the 151-Foot and One Inch Woman: What Real Horror Looks Like


 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.”

liberty1

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.”

(https://www.nps.gov/stli/learn/historyculture/stories.htm )

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.”

liberty-2

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?

 

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10 thoughts on “Attack of the 151-Foot and One Inch Woman: What Real Horror Looks Like

  1. Brava! (You probably knew I’d say that. 😉 ) So much to ponder here, especially for the wordfolk among us, but I especially love this: “How sad that much of what was intended continues to lay fallow in the fields of American imagination.” Fallow in the fields of American imagination — that’s exactly it. Some among us may be brave, but collectively we’re cowards. We’ve made a fetish of the flag, the national anthem, our national history, and the Constitution without stopping to consider what any of them mean. I’ve been muttering “Land of the Scared, Home of the Slave” for years now, but I didn’t realize that so many people were so angry, so scared, so convinced of their own powerlessness that they’d seek salvation in the person of Donald Trump.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am so grateful for your comments. I find that this whole subject of political discussion has almost everyone except the bullies among us fearful of speaking up (which is why I so appreciate the young people currently protesting). We have lost the art of conversation and useful debate and gained intimidation, insults and revenge-hacking. Maybe it’s because I am older, or maybe I am just tired of years of coercion, but as scary as standing your ground is, the consequences of a slippery slope of acquiescence is even MORE scary to contemplate. With Clinton’s growing lead in the popular vote, I now see Trump’s election as an opportunity for this country to rise in unison and rethink the entire electoral process — from how elections are funded and the subsequent elimination of so many other candidate options, to deciding nationally once and for all that “We the People” means all of us — all colors, all genders, all religions. To borrow from the campaign that just won, perhaps it is time indeed to take our country back…and we have four years to figure out what that means.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m glad you broke your Golden Rule, and I’m embarrassed too. And I’m not even American. But I do see the dangers in allowing the President-Elect time to show his true colors. We’ve already seen them time and again, and I don’t think they’ll change with a change in address and more power. The Electoral College needs to go…or at the very least grow a collective brain and reverse this train derailment before a lot more good folks worldwide are affected!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for the empathy! I think many of us appreciate it… The Electoral College had an important function once upon a time, and while it may not be totally irrelevant, it needs updating and a change in how it allows certain members to disregard their state votes and vote instead in our “best interests.” But we also allowed campaign funding to get out of hand and deregulated how contributions funnel into campaigns, making it a race between the rich and connected. This is a blatant conflict of American interests, and because one party or the other is “relieved” every four years that their candidate navigated those waters to win is why we cannot see the forest for the trees and unite to repeal the legislation that let the wolf into the henhouse (pardon all of the metaphors!)… Maybe after enough national embarrassments, we will see the need for returning the power to the People. Meanwhile, the spirit of meanness continues to dog Americans left uncomfortable about the election, with those of the winning party being derogatory and aggressively nasty to those of us who dare to question the intentions of the party that won. We have, alas, at least temporarily lost the ability to talk intelligently and respectfully to one another…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. SO well put!!! Bigotry is fear. People aren’t comfortable with things they don’t understand. Instead of getting out there and meeting new people and experiencing new things, they just stay in their little cocoons. So sad…but now the rest of us are being punished for it.

    Like

  6. I have long believed that it should be a requirement for all Americans to be forced to live one year outside of the United States in a country whose language is not English and religion is not Christianity. Having experienced the same as an Army Brat, I feel it has made me think twice about the importance of the rest of the world…and the fact that all people are PEOPLE first. Thanks for stopping by and your comments!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for going on record, KC! Turning to the Statue of Liberty was really a stroke of genius. You’ve spotlighted just how un-true to the American ideal Donald Trump’s campaign was (and his presidency is likely to be).

    I’m guessing from your last name and your knowledge of Spanish that you have close ties to the Hispanic/Latino community? Me too. Brazilian husband. It’s heartbreaking to see so much hatred directed towards people like him: hard-working and sparkly-eyed and looking up to America as “the land of opportunity.”

    But above all else, I feel disconnected from the current political climate. Sometimes it feels like a loony fiction writer has taken over the media and is churning out drama after drama. I hear about violent racial encounters, but everyone I talk to is disgusted by them. I’m not even sure if I’ve heard anyone (outside of books and movies) make a racial slur in my whole life. I know that Donald Trump was elected, but I only know one person who voted for him (and he did it cringing).

    I don’t know what to think. Am I in some sort of happy/lucky bubble, surrounded by unusually good people, or is the media creating some sort of horror bubble (that could turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy)?

    Can you relate to this? Do you have a theory?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I don’t think it’s the media….I think it is a lot of Americans who have preferred (and enjoyed) the privilege of living in a bubble that generously allowed us to focus for years solely on work, family and fun instead of paying attention to and worrying about what is happening in the rest of the world — let alone the next block over. While it is stressful and anxiety-producing to worry about what we cannot control, we also cannot stick our heads in the sand. Far too many of us have spent years criticizing each other for not being as “smart” or “educated” as we might have considered ourselves when in truth we were just “lucky”….I personally remember a LOT of U.S. jobs evaporating and the “last line of Middle Class” who are currently losing their jobs being quite snarky and holier-than-thou about all of the layoffs the rest of us have been enduring for decades. Now — NOW that it is THEM the country is in crisis. Those who supported Trump seem to be espousing 1940’s rhetoric: all of our problems are related to “foreigners” and the solution is isolationism. But Japan already once reminded us that ignoring the rest of the world is no longer an option. Neither is ignoring the plight of our fellow Americans. The Rust Belt needs to stop whining — just like they told us to after every factory closing and industry shift in the rest of the country. We all need to pull ourselves up by HELPING each other up — not tearing each other down. The media has nothing to do with that. Manners and common respect for our fellow human beings does…

    I also don’t think it is as bad as it looks….A lot of people do NOT agree with Trump, but it is always the uglier side of humanity that is the loudest. However, the REAL silent majority is the rest of us who don’t run around shoving our opinions down other people’s throats… that is the real U.S. And while I, too, worry about the escalation of violence, freedom is not free. And I cannot think of a better reason to stand up than for the principles of this country that brought all of us — from all of the many different countries, races, and religions — together. Bullies are cowards, even when they get lucky. The day of the Bigot is over. And it may take all of us to have the courage to stand up and say so. That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it…

    As for dissecting how this weirdness happened…. As a country we need to decide whether the electoral college should retain the right to vote “its conscience” as opposed to following the popular vote of each state, and whether we are doing everything we should be doing as responsible citizens: It doesn’t matter that you love a candidate…it matters that you vote and vote responsibly. That is a whole ‘nuther issue….

    Thanks for handing me the soap box! I appreciate your comments….

    Like

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