HOW I GOT HERE

1. It’s Thursday, August 3, 2017.

2. It’s the 13th anniversary of the reopening of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. It had been closed since the Sept. 11, 2001 attack that destroyed the World Trade Center.

For nearly three years, people seeking inspiration from the statue had to be content with the Emma Lazarus poem inscribed on its side.

Hundreds of people speak the words on Liberty Island every day. They’re part of the power that a visit to the statue – and to the nearby Ellis Island immigration center – engender.

Of course, there are people like Stephen Miller, who are probably more concerned about whether they serve chicken nuggets at the snack bar, and why you have to pay money to take a boat to the island.

4. There are people who will tell you that those of us on the coasts – I’m including my friends in California, Oregon and Washington – really don’t understand the impact immigration has on the American economy.

The real impact is on the heartland, these people will say, where immigrants – many of them here illegally – are taking jobs from American citizens.

This canard has been bouncing around for decades – it’s imagined by narrow-minded people and reinforced by opportunistic (read: Republican) office seekers and their tame media (read: Fox News).

So that’s why you can get crap such as that proposed yesterday by Trump and two other bags of pus who hold seats in the U.S. Senate – Cotton of Arkansas and Perdue of Georgia.

Let’s put it all in perspective.

Immigration is how I’m here. It’s how my wife is here. Because of that, it’s why my kids are here.

There aren’t a whole lot of people I know or I’ve worked with who aren’t here because of immigrants, most of whom couldn’t speak the language when they got off the boat, the truck or the plane. Most of them had no jobs waiting for them, no understanding of what skill sets would be needed in this land.

There are issues with immigration. No one disagrees that it’s better done legally. Those who come in without proper documentation can – in some instances – be used as a bludgeon on the wages of people already here, which is one of the things that sparks the anti-immigrant sentiment.

But to curtail immigration with a so-called “merit-based” system is preposterous. It’s shameful. It’s cowardice.

And it betrays the spirit that brought people here. People who built and defended this country. Who died in World War II and Vietnam and Iraq and on that awful September day in 2001 that closed the Statue of Liberty pedestal for nearly three years.

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

Every American worth a damn knows these words, and knows how they symbolize the greatness of the United States.

Obviously, Trump and every senator or representative who supports this garbage proposal doesn’t fall into the worth a damn category.

And if you live in Iowa or Kentucky or Georgia – or even in New York or Los Angeles – and support this: To hell with you, too.

5. Congratulations to Norman Lear, age 95, who will be among this year’s recipients of the Kennedy Center’s annual honors for achievement in the arts.

It’s well deserved. Lear contributed greatly to American culture with his pioneering sitcoms that looked at social issues: “All in the Family,” “Maude,” “The Jeffersons” and more. He’s also devoted his life to advancing free speech in America.

That doesn’t change my thought that maybe Lear didn’t succeed in changing America as he wished to do. That bigotry prevailed in spite of his incredible efforts against it.

What I also imagine, from what I know about the man, is that he would welcome the discussion and the chance to either agree or vigorously disagree.

I also cheer the fact that he’s probably going to skip the traditional White House reception for the honorees, who also include LL Cool J, Gloria Estefan, Lionel Richie and dancer Carmen de Lavallade.

“I can’t see myself visiting a White House, what (Trump) called a dump, that dumps on the National Endowment for the Arts,” Lear was quoted as saying by The Washington Post.

Proving he ain’t no meathead.

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