Thump, thump, Trump, harrumph. Ah, that elusive pulse. When you think you’ve got it, you don’t.
Only a science fiction writer would have imagined a coalition of Charley Lunchbucket and Wall St. Suits along with Bible-thumpers and assorted female-haters. Maybe it’s the same marriage of that singing-waiter, Irving Berlin, who ended up living in a fifty room mansion with no less than 134 servants, writing songs of the common man (God Bless America) often sung during the 7th inning stretch of ball games.
The rather mawkish petition to the Almighty was first composed in 1918 and revived twenty years later. It was the form of patriotism designed to remind us of our values yet keep us out of the war. We were, after all, exceptional and separated from those rascals by an ocean white with foam. God would protect us in the night with a light from above.
Ronald Reagan also seemed to have his finger on the pulse of America. As the voice denigrating the role of government he conveniently forgot how his father worked for the W.P.A. during the Depression along with his brother and himself.
I have voted dozens of times against candidates who gave me that same finger in their victory speech. Sometimes it seems the country has gone moribund with no pulse at all. Today we have two bodies each with its own throbbing surge. One lives on Planet Fox, fabulists for the mobocracy. The pulse I feel and hear and taste is an inclusive, vibrant brotherhood/sisterhood of aroused citizens deeply offended by the miscreant in office.
God does not bless America, alone. Not now. Not with the desecration of Emma Lazarus’ words at the base of the Statue of Liberty.
She had her finger on the pulse when she wrote her sonnet in 1883 and even twenty years later when the New Colossus was inscribed on the Statue, seven years after her death. She wrote about a mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning and her name is Mother of Exiles. America was a sanctuary nation. When did we lose our way?
Ironically, hundreds of birds lost their way when the Statue served as a lighthouse in its early days. The single light confused them and as many as 1,400 dead birds lay besides the inspired words on a single morning in 1903. At first the carcasses were sold to New York milliners but that practice soon ended. A metaphor for the false beacon of hope yet to come.
Emma Lazarus sonnet is now again being mocked. That lamp beside the golden door is no longer lifted to the tired, poor, wretched refuse and tempest-tossed yearning to breathe free. Instead our disgraced President and his religiously hypocritical Attorney General have slammed the door and young children are being torn apart from parent’s arms in an unconscionable policy of calloused indifference to humanity.
Irving Berlin might have taken back his patriotic anthem. He actually did use Lazarus’ words in his 1949 musical, Miss Liberty. Instead he might defer to her entire poem which was, in fact, put to music by David Ludwig in 2002 and performed at President Obama’s inaugural in 2013.