When it comes to symbols of what America stands for, we’re pretty partial to the Statue of Liberty.
I mean, people would be pretty upset if this suddenly happened, amirite?
There’s a reason we like it so much (and it’s not just that comfy-looking robe that may or may not have been the world’s first Snuggie). Lady Liberty stands for some of our most closely held values as a nation, and she even comes with an epic poem telling the world that we’re ready to accept the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
It’s a symbol of our reputation as a welcoming place for people from all over the globe — a reputation we don’t always live up to these days. Since the horrid attacks in Paris, many have looked to close borders to Muslim refugees out of the fear of a potential terrorist attack, unleashing a tidal wave of anti-Muslim sentiment in the process. It’s in our streets. It’s in our schools. It’s even found its way into our football games. The recent shooting in San Bernardino, California, may even intensify these feelings.
There’s a huge irony here. The Statue of Liberty was originally born a Muslim.
Yes, according to a recent article published by Smithsonian magazine (and previously pointed out by The Daily Beast), the magnificent monument that represents everything we as a country stand for was originally envisioned as a Muslim peasant woman that would have stood guard over the Suez Canal in Egypt, not the New York Harbor.
That’s because the statue’s sculptor, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi of France, originally pitched the colossal idea to Isma’il Pasha, the khedive of Egypt (something akin to a viceroy). Thankfully for us, Pasha refused, and Bartholdi soon “sailed to America with drawings of the Muslim woman transformed to the personification of Liberty,” as The Daily Beast’s Michael Daly put it.
From there, the statue was built by Gustave Eiffel (ever heard of the Eiffel Tower? Yeah, that guy) and gifted to us on Oct. 28, 1886, serving as a symbol of our country’s open-door policy to those in need of safety and shelter.
Now, it’s these Muslim refugees who need our help the most.
According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, there have been over 4 million documented Syrian refugees since the country’s civil war began in 2011. Nearly half of those refugees have been children, and with winter rapidly approaching, they are facing a bigger risk of malnutrition and abuse than ever before.
Want some more statistics? Of the 784,000 refugees we have admitted since 9/11, only three were ever linked to any terrorist activity, and none of those admitted ever committed an act of terrorism on American soil (which is more than what can be said for people like alleged Colorado shooter Robert L. Dear Jr., who was born right here in America).
Terror attacks are horrible. But we can’t let fear supplant reason.
You have a greater chance of dying in an asteroid apocalypse (1 in 12,500) than being killed in a refugee-related act of terrorism. So by turning our backs on millions of Muslim refugees out of fear, we are doing far worse than merely ignoring the words of our forefathers, the words of our Constitution, and the words that adorn our most beloved national symbol.
We are turning our backs on Lady Liberty herself.