With his March 4 op-ed (http://helenair.com/news/opinion/readers_alley/come-and-get-it-freedom-solace-affirmance-and-refuge/article_71b97fde-1002-52b0-864e-604d668612a0.html) , retired Montana Supreme Court Justice Jim Nelson joins the club of people who have been bamboozled about the significance of that immense statue of a woman standing on an island in New York’s harbor.
The statue is actually named “Liberty Enlightening the World,” and it has nothing to do with immigration. It doesn’t invite refugees or other “huddled masses” to “Come and get it,” as Nelson imagines.
Instead, it was a gift from French citizens to celebrate the U.S. centennial. The statue directs the world’s attention to the workings of ordered liberty in the young American republic as a beneficial example for their own development.
An excellent way for Nelson and others confused about the statue’s real meaning to attain clarity is to read, online, the July 5, 2009, Washington Post op-ed by Roberto Suro, founding director of the Pew Hispanic Center. His article’s title is also its main point: “She Was Never About Those Huddled Masses.” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/02/AR2009070201737_pf.html)
Early in the article, Suro gives his basic prescription: “Let’s get rid of the poem,” meaning the Emma Lazarus sonnet “The New Colossus” that has so enthralled and befuddled Nelson and myriad others. Indeed, we should.