Giorgio: We Got Ours; Don’t Try to Get Yours
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
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!"
--Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus
The poem above was written about the Statue of Liberty, the mother of exiles, and a plaque with those words is on the pedestal wall. I re-read the inscription because of the child refugee problem we are facing on our southern border. Like you, I have seen the children, many of them without a parent, crossing our border. Why are they coming here? Why have they traveled thousands of miles to come to America? And why do some want us to turn our backs on them?
All four of my grandparents got on a boat in Italy over 100 years ago, having spent their life’s savings on a ticket in steerage, taking weeks to cross the Atlantic. Why? It was for a better life for them and for those that came after them. They weren’t greeted with open arms either. They endured, they preserved and they succeeded. They had to endure the taunts of WOP or Dago and the belief that every Italian was in the Mafia.
The Irish had to endure the same ridicule. Worcester factories had signs that said “No Irish need apply.” We still call the Police wagon-the Paddy Wagon, a vestige of anti-Irishness.
The American story is the immigrant’s story
The American story has always been one about immigrants and those that are here trying to stop those who want to come. The English didn’t want the French from Canada coming or the Spanish in the south. Later on it was the WASPs who didn’t want the Catholics and Southern Europeans coming.
I have a friend, who can trace his family back to Roger Williams and the founding of Rhode Island. He once told me that one of his great- great, grandparents wan an illegal, but who fought in the Civil War for the Union. The moral is that maybe we all have that in our background.
We’re all here now, so those that are don’t want people from Puerto Rico, Mexico or Central America coming. Oh sure, we still want the English Doctor, the German Engineer or the Italian Designer. But very few of us welcome the Mexican farm worker or the Jamaican apple picker.
No one is taking our jobs
We claim that they will take our jobs. But how many of us want to pick tomatoes or grapes in the San Joaquin Valley of California? How many of you want to pick apples in the Brookfield’s? How many of us want to clean houses in Worcester’s suburbs? Very few, I would venture.
So the immigrants aren’t really taking our jobs. So ask yourself: what is the real reason we are anti immagrant? Is it because they are darker than some of us or speak Spanish? Is it because we need someone to be above so we feel better. Where does the hatred spring from?
Is it about spending tax dollars to feed them or clothe them or house them? Because, if truth be told, we have a very low level of taxes.
If we can turn our backs on children, what does that say about us as a people or as a country?
Is it time we ask ourselves what America stands for?
Neil Diamond understood the American Dream
Wanting to Come to America is not a new idea. Maybe Neil Diamond said it best:
We've been travelling far
Without a home
But not without a star
Only want to be free
We huddle close
Hang on to a dream
On the boats and on the planes
They're coming to America
Never looking back again
They're coming to America
Maybe we should petition Congress for a bill that would remove the plaque on Liberty Island and replace it with one that says
We got ours; don’t try to get yours.
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