Ashamed to be an American
Today I am ashamed to be an American. I find my sense of shame comes in waves not unlike the way grieving for a lost loved one does. What brought on this latest depressing state of mind? It was a story I just viewed on "Sunday Morning," a show I watch regularly on Sunday mornings.
The story reported on the open and welcoming arms of our northern neighbors, Canada, for Syrian refugees. Thousands of volunteers and those with the means to help financially meet sponsored refugees at the airport and help them get established as Canadians with jobs; a place to live; and the necessities of life; until they can fend for themselves. It was the most heartwarming story I have come across in a long time and yes, it did result in my shame for my own country, the United States of America. Today I am ashamed to be an American.
I have always felt that I have a certain patriotism in my being, but today, no, it's not there. I still fly my flag on every good day but today I almost brought it in. I do not have a flag pole, so I cannot fly it at half mast. If I did I would do so. And you all know how long it would remain that way if you know me at all.
My shame is so intense today that I wonder why the Statue of Liberty which stands in New York Harbor and which stands as a beacon for those fleeing from war, depravation, and unjust regimes, is not shrouded in black drapery as a sign of mourning. Maybe we can at least fit her out with a blindfold so she won't have to watch what is happening to our country at this point in our history.
I just looked up the words to Emma Lazarus' poem, written in 1883, which is displayed on a plaque near the base of the statue. Did you ever see the complete words? Here they are:
The New Colossus
By Emma Lazarus, 1883
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!"
At first, Emma refused to write the poem until her friend, Cary Harrison, convinced her that immigrants would be inspired by seeing the statue welcoming them ashore.
The poem refers to the Greek god of light, Helios. The Mother of Exiles, however, is more welcoming than conquering. She welcomes all those downcast who yearn for freedom.
Didn't "America" learn anything from the treatment we gave our Japanese-Americans during WWII and all the Jewish people who were also denied entry onto our shores during that same time?
I would like to leave you with these two questions: "How long will it be before we as "Americans" become those same tempest-tost. And how long will it be before we become "Ugly Americans" and, as such, unwelcome in other countries in the world?