Lazurus words are essence of America

We must resist xenophobia in our country.

I hear middle-aged whites shouting, “I want my country back” and “Follow the Constitution!” at Tea Party rallies. Why are they saying this? I want to ask them, “Who took your country and which constitution?” I think they are referring to the original version of the Constitution, which did not prevent restrictions on voting rights or ownership of slaves. Furthermore, I think these folks look around, see a black president, lots of brown faces and unfamiliar religious symbols and say to themselves: “This is not America because America should be run by white Christians.”

I cannot read some things aloud. There are some ideas so sacred that my voice quivers and tears fill my eyes to the point I cannot see to read. I have tried so many times to read certain passages to my children and students but to no avail. One verse comes to mind:

“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!”

This has always been my vision of America. It stands in stark contrast to much of our history, especially today when so many demonize so-called “illegal immigration.” However, to me, this is the essence of America.

— Lawrence Dean

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