In 1883 Emma Lazarus wrote the poem “The New Colossus,” which in its closing couplets gave us something like our national soul. With apologies to Ms. Lazarus, and with longing for the sentiment she so beautifully expressed, here is my update.
No longer Mother of Exiles,
Embracing all within these lands.
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates now stands
A timid woman with a torch whose flame
Has dimmed, and her name
Fear’s Courtesan. From her beacon-hand
No light shines; her averted eyes demand
Nothing of those who invoke her name.
“Keep, Suffragettes and Freedom Riders, your storied pomp!” cries she
with hardened lips. “I cannot bear your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses beseeching their brothers.
The wretched refuse of poor health,
The homeless, the tempest-tossed I leave to others.
I turn my face to the caress of wealth.”