In a radio interview following a campaign stop in Alabama on Friday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump announced that he plans on modifying the historically famous “New Colossus” sonnet that is engraved on a plaque in the Statue Of Liberty pedestal, should he become President of the United States.
Specifically, Trump sees the phrase that closes the poem as problematic. It currently reads as follows:
“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!”
While he doesn’t believe there is anything directly inappropriate in those specific words, Trump indicated that the section needs to be removed because it “gives the wrong impression to people around the world, who have come to see the United States as a haven of promise and hope.” He added that it has unfortunately made people believe that the U.S. is a welcoming nation. “You have these immigrants from Mexico who read that, and then they get the idea that they have a chance for a better life here, which is just silly” Trump said.
A major element of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, which kicked off in June, has been centered on what he sees as the problem of illegal immigration. He infamously referred to Mexican immigrants as “rapists” in his campaign kick-off speech, which set off a firestorm of controversy and has reignited the debate over immigration reform in the U.S. Part of Trump’s plans to address the issue include building a wall, deporting the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the country, as well as changing the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees birthright citizenship to people born in the United States.
When it was suggested that the move to omit a section of text from the Statue Of Liberty might be seen as extreme by some Americans and people around the world, Trump was quick to remind those who might be concerned that the statue was originally a gift from France anyway. “Now, don’t get me wrong, I love French people, and have hired many of them to work in my hotels” Trump said. “But when I think of what it is that will make America great again, I don’t necessarily think of something gifted from France. The idea of offering sanctuary and liberty to the oppressed might be good French values, but I don’t think they really represent my vision for America.”
Trump was later asked if he would replace the words that he plans to remove from the statue, saying “I’m not sure. I have floated some ideas around, but there’s nothing definite.” He continued to say “but the word ‘Trump’ would fit nicely there, don’t you think?”
*NOTE TO READER: THERE HAS BEEN SOME CONFUSION, SO THIS NEEDS TO BE MADE CLEAR – THIS ARTICLE IS SATIRE.
**Scary to realize, it ain’t far from the truth though, huh?
Photo insert: Wikimedia Commons/Gage Skidmore. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Donald_Trump#/media/File:Donald_Trump_by_Gage_Skidmore_2.jpg
Statue Of Liberty photo: Pixabay/ahundt
So I’m at the clinic where my son receives his bi-weekly physical therapy sessions the other day, and next to us is another dad and his son, along with some therapists. I overhear him explaining about how he had a bunch of “Dora The Explorer” cartoons saved on his DVR, but that he had deleted them, and was recalling his explanation of it to either his son or someone else who had asked him about it (I didn’t hear that part clearly.)
“I deported her ass!” he proudly proclaimed. I didn’t hear any reaction from the people he was talking to.
Okay, I thought. Another instance of racism delivered as a joke, which would either be dismissed by some as “just a joke,” or flat-out denied as being racist by others. But it lingered with me for a bit, and I started thinking of precisely why the statement was racist.
First of all, is there anything about Dora The Explorer that would give someone the impression that she could be deported, other than being Latina? After all, there are plenty of people who get all riled up about illegal immigrants being in the country, but whenever the notion of racism gets suggested, they are quick to point out that they are against illegal immigrants, not all immigration.
So, what would give someone the idea that Dora is an illegal immigrant? Sure, she’s an explorer, so you might think that maybe she goes around to places where she’s not welcome, with her talking backpack and human-like monkey pal in tow. But so was Christopher Columbus, who did much more than just explore “new” places. And he is seen as a hero by many, along with the other European explorers from hundreds of years ago. So it’s not just that. And, from what I have seen, it’s not like she goes to places and establishes herself there, mooching off taxpayers and stealing jobs. In fact, I think she goes to someplace new in each episode. Maybe she has a travel visa, and is following the law to the letter with all of her adventures.
So it’s got to be something else. Oh, that’s right, she’s brown. So, simply because of that fact, she is deportable? I guess. This reflects the deep-rooted xenophobia that I think is at the core of a lot of anti-immigrant thought. Sure, people will say that it’s only about the illegal immigrants. But what they should really be saying is that it is about the brown immigrants. If the cartoon was called “Susie The Explorer” and the character was white, there would be no joke whatsoever, whether she were an explorer or not.
And let’s not go with the “it’s just a joke” thing. That is a convenient way to hide from ugly truths that come out through attempts at humor. Whether we like it or not, there is an element of truth to jokes, which is exactly what makes them work (or not) as a joke. If the guy who made this joke had said something like “she got abducted by aliens,” it wouldn’t make sense at all, because nothing in the cartoon has anything to do with aliens. Dora is no more likely to be kidnapped by extraterrestrials than you or I. But it’s the unfortunate attitude in many people’s minds that brown people aren’t as welcome in America as others which makes a joke about deportation possible. Dora’s perceived vulnerability in this issue is due to the color of her skin, and nothing else.
What’s extra sad about this scenario, on top of it being an unfunny attempt at humor that makes light of a situation (deportation) that isn’t funny for the people who get affected by it (including those here legally,) is that it takes the innocence away from a kid’s show. Among many other things, having toddlers of my own at home and watching different shows aimed at children has reminded me of how such programming is free from the ugly, selfish and “get yours” attitude that plagues adulthood in our society. There are no immigration laws among the different inhabitants of Nickelodeon. Nor are there arguments about taxes, or black versus white, or freeloaders, Obamacare, or anything of the sort. I’m not sure if this dad was recounting his explanation to his son or someone else, but regardless, his son was right in front of him when he said it. And that’s where this type of mentality is probably most ardently learned.
Come on, man. Your kid knows nothing about being a racist. Give him a chance.
Photo credit – Wikipedia Commons – Ian Gampon