Bernard Dard’s article, “Liberty as Image and Icon” highlights the change in the thought associated with the Statue of Liberty though the course of American history. His article made me think of how the statue has evolved in meaning over time. I feel as if it once stood for the original values of America. Hope, dreams and freedom are words that come to mind.
However, at present, I feel as if such ideas have been lost. Or, if not lost, these ideals have been corrupted by politicians looking to manipulate the populace for their own agendas. Sadly, I become disillusioned when I think of our present situation. At one time, America was a beacon of hope. It represented the success of one of the greatest experiments in human history. America proved that democracy was a viable form of government, going against the grain in a time dominated by monarchy and dictatorship. The Statue of Liberty was a monument to commemorate America’s success. People were proud of the country and what it stood for.
Today, things are different. For other countries, we are an object of ridicule. Many American citizens, when traveling abroad, are ashamed to say they are of our country. Who can blame them? Considering certain policies, I cannot. The cartoon above highlights one such policy. Immigration is often a hot button topic. Many have been convinced that immigrants are some sort of evil. In political discourse, they are often referred to as aliens, a word associated with many negative connotations. The word alien conjures up thoughts of the “others” from faraway places. Aliens come to attack, or at least disrupt “normal” life or the status quo. Thus, we must keep them out.
The current attitude lies in stark contrast to previous ideas about immigration. America used to welcome immigrants with open arms. Many came to Ellis Island with the Statue of Liberty in the background. As such, the statue came to be associated with an open attitude. However, now, Lady Liberty almost mocks those who yearn to immigrate to America. Rather than being welcoming, it represent the figurative (and maybe soon literal) wall preventing immigrants from becoming a part of our country.