Response To Column On Meaning Of Statute Of Liberty

By / Letters to the Editor / Tuesday, 18 April 2017 04:00

I feel compelled to respond to Charlie Allo's column of April 5th on the meaning of the Statue of Liberty, immigration, the Constitution and the Federal Government. A lot presented and a lot to respond to.
Yes, the Statue of Liberty was given to the U.S. by the French with the date of our Declaration of Independence engraved on it. The statue commemorated the alliance between France and the U.S. during the Revolutionary War. Proposed and given after our Civil War, it was also meant to commemorate freedom and democracy and honor the work of Abraham Lincoln. The hope was that by calling attention to the achievements of the U.S. the French people would be inspired to create their own democracy.
Yes, Emma Lazarus's poem "The New Colossus" is on a bronze plaque on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. Yes, she wrote the poem in 1883. Then she donated it to an auction in order to raise funds to build the pedestal for the Statue, which was dedicated in 1886. Her poem that raised funds for the pedestal and has inspired a nation of immigrants was mounted on that pedestal in 1903. That was about the time my husband's family, fleeing persecution in Russia, first saw the Statue of Liberty and began their lives here in the U.S. Mr. Allo implies that today's immigrants have a safety net that the immigrants of old did not. My ancestors were given a land grant in North Carolina in the 1700s, immigrants of the mid 1800s were given homesteads, my husbands' grandparents received English language lessons at the very least.
Mr. Allo also implies that today's immigrants do not assimilate or learn English and that the immigrants of old did. For generations in our large cities where many immigrants began their lives, there were Italian neighborhoods, Irish neighborhoods, Polish neighborhoods, Jewish neighborhoods, etc. There were places of worship that catered to the immigrants from those nations. Even before that we had Methodists from England, Presbyterians from Scotland, Lutherans from Germany, etc. I taught English and English as a Second Language for 23 years. We do not have to worry about the children of immigrants knowing English. They have no problem understanding and speaking English as they grow up here, attend our public schools, and participate in our English speaking culture. If they also know the language of their ancestors, so much the better. My parents-in-law did.
It is not easy to understand the intent of the writers of our Constitution. There are scholars who spend a lifetime studying the Constitution. The Supreme Court works at making decisions based on it every day for their lifetime tenures. Times have changed since it was written and ratified.
There is not much chance that we will be going back to that agricultural and frontier environment. We had the Industrial Revolution and now we are in the midst of a technological one. Since the ratification of the Constitution, men who did not own land got the vote, slavery was abolished, and women got the vote -- just a few of the changes made to our Constitution through amendments and interpretations made through Supreme Court rulings. Cases that come before the Supreme Court are brought by individuals. Those individuals are seeking the freedom, rights and due process under the law promised by our Constitution. Some of the circumstances and decisions may not have entered the minds of the writers of that Constitution, but it is so well written that it can still be applied to our nation's ever changing times.
Elected officials who try to politicize the Supreme Court are a problem. To promise to appoint a justice based on issues is wrong. Our Supreme Court is and should be above the fray of politics in order for our nation to thrive. The United States has thrived for over 240 years. We, like the Statue of Liberty, are a beacon of freedom and hope to many peoples as we have been for all these years.
Betsy Fox
Kure Beach


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