There’s something fundamentally wrong with those on the left that is exemplified in the recent argument between President Trump’s Senior Advisor for Policy, Stephen Miller, and CNN’s Jim Acosta. This error is made again in a feature article in Rolling Stone magazine. It is a profound blunder because leftists are entirely unable to recognize and acknowledge nuance. For the radical progressives, it’s all black and white – you are with us or a’gin us – you are a fascist, or you are a compassionate liberal. Thus, they print ignominious Pablum about the Statue of Liberty and the Emma Lazarus poem accompanying it that effectively twists Lady Liberty into a pretzel.
And these types of reprehensible articles should not go unchallenged.
The argument between Miller and Acosta centered on immigration. To the left, President Trump is racist and xenophobic because he seeks to establish some immigration boundaries. As a result, articles such as the one written by Jesse Berney in Rolling Stone abound. Mr. Berney opined: “Of course Stephen Miller rejects the poem’s significance. Lazarus’ words reach through time to rebuke him and his hate.” We should expect nothing less from a self-described Democratic activist who worked at the DNC as well as on Hilary’s first presidential campaign. However, this does seem a teachable moment for Mr. Berney and his minions. Indeed, a history lesson may help.
First, Mr. Berney might look at where Lady Liberty stands. She is part and parcel of the Ellis Island experience. This was the point of entry for immigrants throughout much of the early 20th century. Immigrants were processed at Ellis Island for decades under the auspices of the U.S. Public Health Service along with the Bureau of Immigration. The key word here is “processed.” These folks didn’t just jump off the ship and start walking the streets of New York. In fact, it was a rather rigorous run through:
If the immigrant’s papers were in order and they were in reasonably good health, the Ellis Island inspection process would last approximately three to five hours. The inspections took place in the Registry Room (or Great Hall), where doctors would briefly scan every immigrant for obvious physical ailments.
This crucial processing station claims that doctors at Ellis Island became adept at conducting physicals. In fact, Ellis came to be known as the “Island of Tears” as doctors inspecting immigrants turned back those carrying communicable diseases and other ailments that were seen as harmful to the American public.
Even before Ellis Island immigration was a political football as legislators endeavored to establish some type of regulatory system to deal with the flood of immigrants coming to America from the late 19th century into the 20th. There was the Alien Contract Labor Law, the Chinese Exclusion Act and the establishment of a literacy test — just to name a few. But there was never, ever a huddled mass, yearning to breathe free who stepped from ship to shore unfettered unless you want to go way back to the founding days of the nation. As the trickle of immigrants turned into a full-fledged flood, there were restrictions, constraints, and regulations at every turn.
This is the reality, the true history of immigration that sits at the foot of the Statue of Liberty. Thus when Mr. Berney writes in Rolling Stone, “But the promise of America is anybody can be an American, no matter where you’re from and what you look like,” he misses the nuance here. Yes, people of all shapes, sizes, and nationalities were welcomed (save those poor huddled Chinese for a time), but it wasn’t without some vetting. Could we even perhaps call it “extreme vetting”? Ahh…that damned nuance is getting in the way of another shallow leftist argument. No distinction or shades of gray permitted. And so this type of factually incorrect information spreads like an infectious disease run rampant without interference from the CDC or an Ellis Island physician. Then it begins to metastasize.
Here’s just one small example: Stephen Krashen writes in a letter to the editor in the LA Times punctuating Rolling Stone’s puerile point,“Give me your rich, your white, your English speakers, yearning to earn more.” So clever, don’t you think? Such poetic nonsense.
While the left is busy waxing poetic, conservatives are trying to do something to make sense of an immigration system run-amok in this country. The RAISE Act introduced by Senators David Perdue (R-GA) and Tom Cotton (R-AK) is not an affront to Lady Liberty and the poem Ms. Lazarus wrote. It is a rational way to deal with an enormous problem. Here’s a logical position on RAISE as outlined by Robert Law in The Hill:
The RAISE Act scraps our current employment-based green card framework and replaces it with a skills-based points system. Nations like Australia and Canada already do this; it’s about time the U.S. followed suit. This merit-based system would award points based on education, English proficiency, job skills, age (meaning prime working age), and entrepreneurial investment—factors that prioritize those best able to succeed and contribute to the American economy.
So enough already with this drum beat of the Statue of Liberty and her huddled masses. Conservatives get it. We understand. But to say we should allow everyone into this country without so much as a framework of what is highest and best for America demonstrates a good deal of imbecility. It also demonstrates a total lack of understanding regarding the history and true meaning of Lady Liberty.