Smack (or, I suppose, almost so) in the middle of New York
Harbor is a tiny island that contains not much more than a fort of the 1800’s
built in the form of an 11-pointed star and serving purely as an elevated
platform on which stands a truly enormous, light green statue that can be seen
for miles, geographically speaking, and in fact all over the world, spiritually
speaking. The name given to this statue
by its makers is “Liberty Enlightens the World,” though in the U.S.
it is somewhat less elegantly known as “The Statue of Liberty.”
This statue was not “made in America.” Instead it was the result of three Frenchmen
putting together their heads and their talents and quickly, efficiently, and
successfully carrying through an idea from its inception to its very tangible
and meritorious end -- though they would have good reason to be appalled at the
physical and moral surroundings in which their conception in its concrete
(though I should say “metallic”) form now languishes, 150 years later.
A historian named Eduoard de Laboulaye got the notion that
what the world needed was a monument to liberty. He passed his idea on to his friend, an
artist named Frederic A. Bartholdi, who then came up with the design and also
put his shoulder to the wheel in finding funds for the project. Meanwhile one of their illustrious
contemporaries in Paris, the builder of the Eiffel Tower,
Alexandre G. Eiffel, put together the inner iron framework that supports, among
other things, the 331 sheets of copper that, patinaed by the elements, comprise
the outside parts of the statue and give it that interesting color of an apple
not yet beginning to turn red.
As an aside -- funny thing about the Eiffel Tower.
It would be mainly art students who would know that though
the Eiffel Tower has meant Paris through and through for quite a long time, the
Impressionists and the other now world-famous painters of the 1880’s and
thereabouts were not exactly thrilled when that incredibly tall, ugly, inhuman,
iron thing rose up smack in the middle of beautiful, thoroughly human Paris and
overshadowed everything else around, and they generally avoided giving that
unwelcome intruder any place in their paintings, even though they were as busy
as could be recording the slightest glints on oranges, apples, and every other
visual subtlety that offered itself.
But when it came to Bartholdi’s statue of that woman holding
high her torch, things were different, mainly because as soon as all the parts
were fabricated, those were packed into 341 boxes and shipped off in a boat to
the U.S. as a gift, at a cost of $250,000 to the French people for the statue
itself, and another $280,000 paid by Americans for the Fort Wood pedestal in
The French, however, did keep a model of the statue that
sits on a bridge over the Seine River in Paris – provided that it is still
there at all, and also if the French, a sensitive bunch, have by now let slide
the numerous, stupid insults that they had to endure from some Americans for
not taking part in the 2003 travesty of invading Iraq, which was a blunder of
gigantic proportions that, with the just concluded election, now has every
chance to be repeated, in various forms, since the new U.S. President-to-be was
voted in by the same numbskulls who so roundly condemned France for acting so
intelligently 13 years ago.
Let’s face it. The
French are more evolved than not
only Americans, but also the Irish, the Germans, the Russians, and the Spanish,
or at least the French are somewhat so, and it’s possible that in 2003 they
showed that, unlike their friends and neighbors, they had learned from the many
mistakes they had made in Vietnam not that long before – blunders that a long
string of American presidents repeated in the same damn place, and that GW Bush
was blithely about to repeat in Iraq, with the same inevitable results. Meanwhile let’s not do more than merely
mention the especially dense British, who over the course of 200 years have had
their behinds unmercifully beaten and kicked out of Afghanistan by the locals a
number of times, yet every time the Americans say, “Let’s have another go at
those Pashtun ragamuffins, the British are always right there, saying,
“Righto!” And again, always ending up
with nothing but blood and misery to show for it.
That remarkable feat of engineering, the wonderful French
gift, “Liberty Enlightening the World,” was unveiled in America in 1886 when
Grover Cleveland was President, and 16 years later, in 1903, the statue was
graced with the words that come to mind with any mention of it and give the
statue its meaning, in the form of a poem written by a lady named Emma Lazarus
and titled “The New Colossus.”
The best known lines of this poem occur toward its end, and
they go as follows:
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied
pomp!” cries she
lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
masses yearning to breathe free.
refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the
homeless, tempest-lost to me.
I lift my lamp
beside the golden door!”
Sheer distaste has kept me from looking to see how tall that
multi-storied rats nest, the T. Rump Tower, is, and so I just assume that the
statue in the harbor cannot be seen from there.
In any case that big green statue in New York Harbor must be
an intense embarrassment for the incoming T.Rump administration, so foreign is that
concept of three Frenchmen as to what “liberty” means to the intentions of
those who are about to take power in the U.S. these days. After all the Rumpisants campaigned on
principles that are exactly opposite to those espoused by men who remembered
how their country had gotten rid of absolute monarchs a century earlier, and at
about the same time that the U.S. was founded, supposedly on much the same
principles, though not actually, since the so-called “Founding Fathers” did not
really believe that “all men are created equal,’’ and especially that their
slaves were real people, and so they were quite satisfied to let human slavery
remain a law of the land for the next 80-some years.
What, then, will the Rumpisants want to do with a statue
that is there in New York Harbor for only one purpose and that is to praise
immigration, when the statue is on a concrete island that is now named
Immigrant Island, and when their man in the Oval Office has proposed making
registries of immigrants who are already here and building walls a la the
Warsaw ghettoes to prevent other possible immigrants from coming here, both of
these being measures used by the German Nazis against Jewish people?
Will they behave as if ‘”Liberty Enlightens the World” no
longer exists? Will they cover that
statue over with a blood red tarp, for the duration? Will they yearn to disassemble it and ship it
back to the French, along with a bill for the cost of that operation, while
planning to replace that statue with one of Pitchfork Ben Tillman or Theodore
Bilbo? Will they look around for a
buyer, perhaps V. Putin, or, more likely, that model premier who now presides
over another country that is now, bizarrely and inexplicably, well on its way
to becoming a full-fledged fascist nation, B.Netanyahu?
My guess is that the “Statue of Liberty” is fated to become
an example of the far right philosophy that up is down and down is up and
north is south and east is west and west is east that has so far served so well
for Rumpisants in perverting all notions and realities of long-standing truths,
and that in their eyes the word
“liberty” will only mean the liberty to prevent men and women who are not
“white” from even thinking about what Ms Lazarus had in mind when she wrote
those immortal lines.
Whoever thought of putting “Liberty Enlightening the World”
on such a small island really knew what they were doing. At least, barring the use of a thousand
barges, that location prevents T.Rump supporters from staging massive 1934
Nuremberg-type rallies there, a la Leni Riefenstahl’s well-made though still tedious film, “Triumph
of the Will,” when that criminal section
of the “white” population gets to the point of seriously exploring the
possibilities of giving themselves the liberty to bring back slavery and so
make “their” country great again.