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Isn’t it time? You know it’s dangerous to leave her out there on her own. She’s vulnerable and prone to poor judgment. She forgets to lock doors and who knows what kind of people she’s letting in. She repeats herself incessantly and the words are like totally disconnected from reality. She’s just not taking care of herself anymore, and you should know, our lives are pretty busy, too. Realistically we can’t give her the kind of care she needs (and why should we be expected to?). It’s not just to herself either; she’s dangerous to others, even to children. You can see it too, right? I mean, what choice do we really have? Shouldn’t we do what needs to be done and find an appropriate place for her, something with a little supervision? It will be best for her and for everyone really, and it’s not like we’re abandoning her. She’ll be in our hearts forever, and we’ll always be there for her, for sure on holidays.
So really, what to do with her? She stands there in the harbor, day after day, with the lamp and that constant message:
Give me your tired,
Your huddled masses
Yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse
Of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless,
The tempest-tossed, to me,
I lift my lamp beside
The golden door!
Of course it’s not like we’ve always lived up to it: Native Americans, Africans, Asians, and others give evidence to that. The gift in the harbor though, was both an appeal and testimony to our better selves; something that encouraged human compassion; something that pulled us up, and made of us a stronger people. Our best leaders have cited the passage and they too, have appealed to our better selves. It’s no longer the case. We have an ignominious president doing just the opposite: pulling us down into the muck of fear and prejudice. We’re resurrecting the past, not to learn from our shame, but to relive it. “Make America Great Again” is not close to happening. The silly hat slogan is delusional pretext as we go about making America wrong again.
Her lamp no longer welcomes and the words are meaningless. No, it’s worse than that; the words are a mockery, a poke in the eye of an idealism that appears trampled. Under this administration, we’ve doused the lamp and desecrated the words. We’re sending agents into cities and countryside, seeking those without the papers. We’re stealing mothers and fathers away from American born children and sending them away; parents who’ve been here for decades, striving for American dream (but without the papers); families who really are making America great again (and doing it without the hat). They came with ambition; often to work in fields, in yards, and in kitchens at our winking bequest. They put fragile lives together; now ripped apart because a paper is missing. We seize families; desperate mothers with children as they flee impossible lives and cross the border into American hope. We abduct their children for stark example and deliver this message: Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.
So let’s just get on with it and put the Old Lady away; she deserves a better home; one where she’s more than a holiday ritual. Where do we place her? We’ve held her too long; it would be both offensive and inappropriate to send her back to the home that may have forgotten her. We could scour the earth and find a most deserving and hospitable home, but you know, we really needn’t look so far afield. There happens to be a warm affordable place and it’s in our own backyard; one that’s sometimes even thought of as being American: Puerto Rico. The harbor of San Juan would be a beautiful home for Lady Liberty. The wretched and abandoned would find themselves among familiar people: the tired, the poor, the homeless, and the tempest-tossed. The newly arrived and a displaced host could rebuild their lives together in happy harmony. It would be best for everyone, real Americans too: on the mainland, we would be free of the living refuse, but could still take a proxy kind of pride in Puerto Rico’s humanity (Puerto Rico is almost American, you know.)
There are other options: we could get some material use from the Lady. There’s lots of iron and copper in that old body. Melt her down! Ship the iron to Texas or Arizona and put it in that huge wall. Take the copper and turn it into something useful: maybe thousands of new ICE badges. She’ll then still live on, more alive and meaningful than ever before. Meanwhile something new and appropriate could take her old place in the harbor: something huge, the likes of which the world has never seen.
He’s a garish president with a keen eye for recognition, so it has to stand taller than the Old Lady, at least 306 feet high (but even bigger would be better). It can be made of recyclable plastic, molded (hollow) into Trump suited likeness. It will be illuminated from within, providing a soft orange glow that pulsates reassuringly (like the heartbeat of America) over night time waters. He can stand there in serene pose, somewhat reminiscent of the Lady. In his raised right hand will be a golf club – or maybe not. It could just be that familiar thumb to forefinger gesture; you know, the one where he appears to be holding something unseemly and is about to flick it away (You could see there was stuff coming out of his nose. Stuff coming out of his – wherever.) Cradled in his left arm, rather than The Declaration, will be his enabling Bible. It’s opened to the oft cited passage where God explicitly defines the real beginning of human life; where He unequivocally censures contraception and abortion; where both are posited as the gravest of all possible sins, and all other mortal transgressions are deemed excusable if a public Pro-Life exhortation is proclaimed. It’s all in there somewhere; it just has to be (probably in Two Corinthians). Anyway, in Trump towering bigness and grandeur, it will stand at the portal of democracy with a fittingly new and huge inscription:
Give me the entitled,
Your valued core,
Your gifted athletes,
Your aspiring models,
Yearning to breathe freely
In gated communities,
The wealthy patrons,
Of your porcelain shore,
Send only these, the beautiful,
The connected, to me,
I lift my lamp
To golden whores
Maybe it’s all too much. Simplicity might provide a better approach. We could keep the Old Lady comfortably at home, but confined to her room. Not an actual room; it would be a huge shroud, covering her from head (and torch) to toe. The heavy black burka would appear somewhat ominous (fittingly so), suspending all thought of making welcomed intrusions. She would loom over the harbor in melancholy silence (no inscription required), but her message would be clear and no longer hypocritical: Go away; there’s nothing for you here.