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Giorgio: We Got Ours; Don’t Try to Get Yours

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

 

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!"

--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.

Our great grandparents and grandparents endured and suffered quietly at the hands of “Nativists’ sometimes referred to as WASPs.  One only has to watch the movies the “Gangs of New York” to learn the true immigrant experience in New York City.  “The Know Nothings” tried to drive the Irish out of New York.  They were referred to as “Know Nothings” because when asked about it, they said they “know nothing.”

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:

Far
We've been travelling far
Without a home
But not without a star

Free
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.

Paul Giorgio is a longtime Democratic Party Activist who has worked on numerous campaigns. He was a Lead Advance Person for President Clinton & Vice President Gore. He was Deputy Director of Special Events for President Clinton’s first Inauguration. He has been elected a delegate to numerous Democratic National Conventions and recently served as one of President Obama’s representatives on the Platform Committee. In 2013 he was chosen as a Presidential Elector. He is the President of Pagio, Inc., publishers of Pulse Magazine, Vitality Magazine and Worcester Medicine.

 

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