In reading the papers today about the arrest of the alleged JFK bombers, I was reminded of an argument I had with a civil libertarian after 9/11. Among other things, I had taken a dim view of “student” visas that I knew from personal experience at college and law school were pretty routinely violated. I was accused of hypocrisy and of being living, breathing proof that the quotation from the Emma Lazarus sonnet engraved on the Bartholdi Pedestal of the Statute of Liberty is bunk because Americans–particularly Americans like me–do not welcome the tired, poor and huddled masses.
I pointed out that the actual quotation from The New Colossus is “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free“, not “yearning to blow us to kingdom come” or “yearning to murder our children”, and Lazarus refers to the the Statue as the Mother of Exiles, not the Mother of the Most Wanted.
I strongly recommend reading the so-called “Phoenix Memo” (written by FBI agent Ken Williams) as a reminder of America’s vulnerabilities. It is chillingly prophetic.