Revising America with Ken Cuccinelli

Ken Cuccinelli, the Chair of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) — in an “acting” capacity because even a Republican Senate would never confirm him — went on NPR this morning and suggested some revisions for the famous Emma Lazarus poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty:

Current version:

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Ken Cuccinelli’s version:

“Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet, and who will not become a public charge.”

The change is notable, not only for what Cuccinelli inartfully shoehorns in, but also for what he excludes: the yearning to breathe free.

You see, it’s been long understood by Americans that the United States is the “land of liberty,” and that people come from all over the world for the freedom and opportunity the U.S. provides. This has been reinforced by American leaders for 230 years, in speeches and texts no less eloquent than Lazarus’s poem.

Clearly, they now need revising. So let’s affix our Know-Nothing campaign buttons and stroll through our country’s history with Ken Cuccinelli and touch up some of these outdated pro-immigrant views from folks who don’t understand what “America First” means.

We’ll start with Abraham Lincoln, who clearly has some room to grow in the patriotism department:

“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty but only for those who can stand on their own two feet, and dedicated to the proposition that some men are created equal.”

How about Ronald Reagan, who could learn a thing or two about statesmanship:

“America represents something universal in the human spirit. I received a letter not long ago from a man who said, ‘You can go to Japan to live, but you cannot become Japanese. You can go to France to live and not become a Frenchman… But then he added, ‘Anybody from any corner of the world can come to America to live and become an American, so as long as they can convince us they aren’t a goddamn freeloader.’ ”

Then there’s Lincoln’s Secretary of State William Seward, who foolishly believed economic productivity could be spurred by human ingenuity rather than trade wars and raising taxes on American consumers:

“… an asylum should be offered to the immigrant and exile of every creed and nation, but especially the rich creeds and nations. In fact, let’s strike ‘every.’ Just exiles from rich nations, please.”

Finally, George Washington never did understand anything about America. Ken Cuccinelli might helpfully correct him thusly:

“America is open to receive not only the opulent and respectable stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions — LOL, j/k, our country is full. America is closed. Go home.”