Women’s History Month 2012: Lady Liberty

9 Mar

On October 28, 1886, an icon of the American spirit was dedicated in New York Harbor. Liberty Enlightening the World, better known colloquially as the Statue of Liberty, is intended to welcome all comers to our shores and to represent the best of the American spirit. To acknowledge this, poet Emma Lazarus created a special sonnet to accompany the statue, The New Colossus. Lazarus herself was a worker for social justice, fighting anti-Semitism and writing articles and poems encouraging fair treatment of all people. Her words are stirring:

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!”

But just how well do these words resonate with the nation in which we live today?  How sad that the 1% who seem to control our government (John Boehner et al. and all of the GOP presidential candidates) have no interest in Liberty:  “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.”  How sad that we hear politicians talk of building walls to keep people out and states like Alabama demanding documentation from every Latino citizen.  How sad that all of the GOP candidates, even Dr. Ron Paul have no interest in preserving human life, as they sat in deafening silence when a group of their supporters cheered for death. How sad that all of the GOP presidential candidates signed a pledge to discriminate against the LGBT population–not exactly the words of liberty that can be read on the very foundation of Lady Liberty.  I encourage all to reflect on the Statue of Liberty and what she stands for–social justice!

9 Responses to “Women’s History Month 2012: Lady Liberty”

  1. le artiste boots March 9, 2012 at 9:12 am #


  2. nevercontrary March 9, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

    Are people aware that there are people living illegally in this country who are not of hispanic decent? But, of course those people are not a threat right? That racism that does not exist is everywhere.

  3. Christine Noble March 9, 2012 at 6:40 pm #

    I’d say we have lost our way as a nation, but we did that very early on. All we who realize that can do is speak up and educate those around us. Most people just want to go through their daily routines and not worry about either side of these discussions which in a way, makes them a greater impediment to progress than the opposition. These issues matter. Treating each other with dignity matters. Making sure the least of us does not have to live in fear of homelessness and disease matters. Unfortunately most people (and by most people I mean most white Christians, even the “liberal” ones) don’t see it until it affects them directly.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 9, 2012 at 7:15 pm #

      My dear Christine, I fear your comments leave me quite sad because I believe them to be quite accurate. Let us hope that your blog and my blog will inspire people to do better!

  4. Didion March 10, 2012 at 6:07 am #

    Great piece, Michael! The U.S. in the 1880s was a racist, small-minded place, but the one thing it had going for it was the sense that there was enough room for everyone. It’s so depressing that current-day Americans seem to think, “Well, I don’t want to cut other people’s lawns, but I sure as hell want lawnmowers to get kicked out of this nation.”

    I can’t believe how short people’s memories are. One time at a family dinner a distant cousin started railing against people on welfare, and my mother exploded at her: “Your *mother* grew up on welfare, as well as all her siblings, and thank god for that — they would have starved otherwise. It allowed her to reach up into the middle class. The next time you want to talk about people on welfare just remember you’re talking about your own family.”

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 10, 2012 at 8:02 am #

      Wow! Didion, you comment is absolutely brilliant! I only hope everyone reads it. Kudos to your mom!


  1. Featured blog partner: Q&A with Michael Hulshof-Schmidt | Blogpong.com – All About Blogs - March 28, 2012

    […] was very proud of how Lady Liberty came together in […]

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