This week, while shilling for “comprehensive immigration reform” (aka amnesty for illegal aliens), President Obama cited the famous poem “The New Colossus” ( “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”) written by Emma Lazarus in 1883. For one whose intellectual powers are constantly being touted by his followers, it’s interesting to note how little he seems to know about the Statue of Liberty’s history — or, perhaps, how little he cares about twisting that history in order to push his radical progressive agenda.
Obama said in his speech on Thursday that Emma Lazarus wrote the poem and donated it for an auction in order to “help pay for the construction of a new statue.” He went on to say that the funding for the statue was garnered by small donations from people all across America. Unfortunately, he gets it wrong.
The Statue of Liberty, commissioned in 1876 and designed by sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, was a gift to America from France in honor of this nation’s centennial. The only cost to Americans was that of the pedestal upon which the statue would be placed, and fundraising for that effort began several years before the statue arrived, in pieces, to be reassembled upon arrival in 1885. In fact, the poem written by Lazarus was forgotten soon after it was donated to the fundraising effort and it wasn’t until 1903, 16 years after her death, that the poem was engraved on a bronze plaque and placed inside the pedestal as a memorial.
Perhaps pointing out the discrepancy about the wording of his speech (“the construction of a new statue” rather than “the construction of the new statue’s pedestal”) seems like nitpicking. But had a Republican president made such an error, innocent or otherwise, he’d have been pilloried in the “mainstream” press as an ill-educated boor. It reminds us of how the MSM ignored Obama’s infamous “57 states” gaffe while on the campaign trail in 2008. Besides, it’s a lot more glamorous to talk about fundraising efforts for the statue itself, not the statue’s base.