“A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles.” – Emma Lazarus
“A nice piece of brass.” – Donald Trump
Understand: That first depiction of the Statue of Liberty is for real; the other is only an attempt to track the gerbils churning in one man’s mind.
The first words are lesser-known from the poem that included, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.”
They’re just words, of course – and so dismissed by clinically bizarre Trump adviser Stephen Miller at a press conference.
Miller, not even fit to preside over a high school key club, nonetheless lectured the Capitol press that Lazarus’ passage was an add-on to the factory model. So disregard.
Whatever his brain trust might think of Lady Liberty, Trump’s actions have sapped her of her might, her light – at least until we elect someone else as her steward.
Of late, we’ve had the horror of children’s pleading for their parents from behind chain-link.
Then we had a one-vote majority in the Supreme Court ruling a travel ban spun of pure racism is within Trump’s power.
Curious: The ruling five called the policy race-neutral, ignoring such hints as “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” from Trump on the campaign trail.
However, when the same court ruled that the Colorado Commission on Civil Rights was wrong to rule against a Denver bake-shop owner for refusing to prepare a cake for a gay couple, it cited the language of commission members which showed “clear and impermissible hostility” to people who use their religion to justify said discrimination.
OK. Those rulings are behind us, with discrimination the winner.
So, Time magazine asks, have matters like these come to define us as a nation? “The story we tell the world is the story we tell ourselves,” writes Karl Vick.
What are the American people saying? The fact is that poll after poll shows most of us do not agree with most of what Trump is doing.
As the president is putting the clamps on immigration, a new poll by the Los Angeles Times finds “support for tighter immigration has steadily declined” to only 25 percent.
When Gallup asked Americans last week if more immigration is a good thing for the country, 75 percent said “yes,” the highest number Gallup has recorded since it started asking the question in 2001.
And while polls had shown a “Trump effect” building antipathy toward Muslims in general (what a legacy, Mr. President), 66 percent of Americans polled by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding agreed with the statement that negative statements by politicians about Muslims are “harmful to our country.”
It is significant, indeed, that in writing the majority for the court that deemed the travel ban legal, Justice Anthony Kennedy had some words that analysts judged to be a scolding of the president.
Kennedy wrote that Trump’s job is to adhere not just to the letter of the law – that equal treatment stuff in the Bill of Rights – but to also its “meaning and promise.”
He wrote, “An anxious world must know that our government remains committed always to the liberties the Constitution seeks to preserve and protect, so that freedom extends outward, and lasts.”
Extending outward, like a lamp held out over the ocean’s waves.
By the way, the Statue of Liberty isn’t made of brass but copper, 62,000 pounds, which if sold as scrap could fetch a pretty penny on the international market.
Longtime former Texan newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado.