In 1837, Massachusetts passed the Alien Passenger Act, which gave the state the authority to expel immigrants who were at risk of becoming “public charges.” Over the next 50 years, Massachusetts used this law to expel more than 50,000 people for the crime of being poor. This effort was aimed explicitly against Irish Catholics.
The Trump administration’s application of a public charge rule for immigrants is cut from the same cloth. (Aug. 13, 1A, “New rules to deny green cards to many legal immigrants”) Our federal government is now following the same path as Massachusetts, targeting different ethnic groups, but with the same racist motivation.
When Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, interpreted Emma Lazarus’ poem on the Statue of Liberty to make it apply to wretched folk who can strand on their own two feet and not require public assistance, it provoked anger and outrage from some.
Although I don’t agree with his interpretation of the poem, we need to remember that it is a poem etched on a piece of symbolic statuary. It is not statutory. It should not be regarded as a law or a piece of foundational documentary.
As poetry, its meaning is subjective, not objective. When someone asked Robert Frost what one of his poems meant, he is reported to have said, “Read it and reread it and read it again; then what it means to you is what it means.”
Cuccinelli’s interpretation of Lazarus is not at all dispositive of the poem itself; it is however very indicative of his own character and values. It is quite characteristic of the conservative ethos, which gives primacy to individual responsibility over communal responsibility. His view should come as no surprise.
No hate here
It’s too bad critics of Abundant Life Church do not understand the difference between hating and disagreeing. (Aug. 6, 4A, “Lee’s Summit teachers protest use of anti-gay church”)
I have been a member of Abundant Life for more than 13 years, and I have never heard any kind of hate message from the pulpit, in a classroom or at any other gathering. Actually, quite the contrary: Christians are told by God and his word that we are to love everyone — which means everyone, regardless of any differences between us. However, we can disagree, and that does not constitute hating anyone.
In this day and age, it seems that if someone disagrees with another person, it is automatically assumed that the person “hates” the other. How sad. If we cannot share our differences and even agree to disagree, how can we ever resolve our issues?
Is that what Lee’s Summit schools are teaching our children — that if we disagree, we hate one another?
That being said, I agree it is probably better to hold school-sponsored events in non-church facilities. We wouldn’t want to be accused of mixing church and state.
Let’s change our wording and approach from discussing a “climate crisis,” which makes us feel powerless, and instead work to “cool the planet,” which gives us a purpose and a mission to accomplish.
We should do this by bringing back the Civilian Conservation Corps, which planted more than 3 billion trees as part of the New Deal. States, counties and cities should determine what type of trees, grasses and other plants, and the federal government would provides materials and $15 an hour.
Ethiopia says it planted 350 million trees in one day last month. We can plant billions to cool the planet.
What’s in a name
I recently read something about spelling and names. I was reminded of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” where Juliet says, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose/By any other name would smell as sweet.” Juliet wonders why Romeo is her enemy just because of his last name.
Well, here in the United States, if one’s last name is Goldblum, Jimenez or Rasheed, or if the first name is something like LaShonda, then a great number of Americans consider that person somehow less or even bad.
I am a white, Anglo-Saxon protestant whose family has been here since the 1600s. I was brought up with ideas of my racial and religious superiority. Only after education and following the words of Jesus did I realize my wretched bigotry.
Many of us have not reached enlightenment. So now, instead of saying, “God, bless America,” I say, “God, help America.”