Tag Archives: Lady Liberty

Why Walls


Hadrian’s Wall

The heatwave in the Bay Area is a dangerous one, for much of the golden grass covering our rolling hills has not yet been plowed under. It doesn’t take much to set it ablaze, and so I’m glad for firebreaks, those borders that protect us from the fires, those walls that keep us safe.

Much has been said about borders and building walls, tall walls, long walls, fortified walls, cyber walls, customs walls, checkpoint walls. Why have walls? Americans like people. We are friendly folk. Why do we need walls?

It goes against our grain to build walls around our country, concrete walls scarring our land. In spite of the media’s assertions to the contrary (and if a lie is repeated it somehow becomes true), Americans are not racists. We found ourselves in the twenty-first century scarred by our shameful history of segregation but accepting, even lauding, integration and equal rights for all. If anything, an inflammatory press keeps the uncivil Civil War alive. And we welcome immigrants of all races, as long as they desire to be Americans and respect our rule of law. And so we build walls, borders, fire trails, to ensure this happens.

We have an iron fence around our property to keep out wild animals, for we live near a state park. Turkeys fly over the fence (it’s a sight to see, a turkey flying) and do their considerably large business on our patio. That is merely annoying, not dangerous. But young bobcats and coyotes squeeze through the iron bars. They would make short work of our cats. They are not friendly, even if cute. I was sad when we fenced our olive trees with green wire to protect them from the deer. Every fall, these bucks rid their adolescent antlers by rubbing them against the trunks, so their adult antlers will grow. The practice reminded me of children and their baby teeth falling out to make room for the permanent ones. And at some point we all must leave childhood behind if we are to become adults.

There are places for fences and walls and I hold, as does the poet Robert Frost’s disagreeable neighbor, that “Good fences make good neighbors.” The narrator in his poem, “Mending Fences,” questions the mending of fences, the building of walls, as not encouraging the true “mending of fences” between people. Many question today. We want to be friendly. We are big-hearted good Americans.

But we need to keep our fences mended, not to keep us in but to keep the coyotes out. President Reagan cried, “Tear down this wall,” for it was a wall that kept people in, imprisoning them, not a wall that kept people out. The why, the purpose, is important. Pope Francis, according to the fiery press, has decried those who build walls. That’s not quite what he meant, but he could have been more specific, more careful in his choice of words with a predatory press at his heels.

Historian Victor Davis Hanson of the Hoover Institution in his syndicated column this last week referred to Hadrian’s Wall that kept the Scots out of Roman Britain: “Rome worked when foreigners crossed through its borders to become Romans. It failed when newcomers fled into the empire and adhered to their own cultures.” Immigration is fine if assimilation is desired, but dangerous if assimilation is shunned. This latter case has been true, it appears to me, with many illegal immigrants crossing our southern border.

Assimilation has also been intentionally avoided by Muslim refugees transplanted by the United Nations, encouraged and supported by “humanitarian” foundations, both religious and secular. These refugees are flown over our borders, placed in rural communities throughout the U.S., towns unprepared for those who disapprove, hate, and fear American culture and freedom. Sharia law replaces American law. But we cannot have two sets of laws. We must be equal under the law. Lady Justice is blind.

Let’s rephrase Mr. Hanson’s excellent and succinct doctrine: “America works when foreigners cross its borders to become Americans. It fails when they cross its borders to adhere to their own culture.” We are a melting pot. We need to melt (at least to a degree).

This is a start, but I would add “when foreigners cross its borders legally.” We have much in common with our Catholic neighbors to the south in terms of faith and culture, for cult produces culture. I believe most Hispanics do assimilate into American life, stabilizing it. We welcome Western cultures who respect freedom. That there are so many immigrants here illegally, that children have been impacted by this national travesty, that there are sanctuary cities allowed, cities that encourage ongoing illegal activity, is a tragedy.

As we head for the California primary on Tuesday, it is gravely unfortunate how the press, both right and left, have misrepresented the desire, indeed the urgent need, to build a wall. They hype hyperbole and invite mob rule. They silence free speech.

We should not be afraid of walls. Walls define who we are. They are a tool. They protect us so that we can thrive, can love one another and live in peace. And America must thrive. She must be the light on the hill, the beacon of hope to a world of lawlessness. She must hold her lantern high, and welcome all who love her law.

I’ve been promoting my new release, The Fire Trail (eLectio Publishing), which is about the border between civilization and barbarism. Lady Liberty commands the cover, but the sun is setting in a fiery sky. Hope is in the lit lantern she holds up to the world. Hope flames in the candles at her feet.


The Fire Trail is now being carried by Orinda Books and Rakestraw Books as well as online retailers.

I will be doing a reading of The Fire Trail at Curves Walnut Creek (a chapter is based here), Tuesday, June 14, Flag Day at 11 a.m., 1848 Tice Valley Rd., near Rossmoor. Some of the ladies are taking parts and it should be fun. Open to the public. Copies available with a $10 donation to Blue Star Moms East Bay. Come on by!

Three Great Ladies


I, like many, have been intrigued with the Carly Fiorina candidacy for President of the United States. Many of us have eagerly waited to see if she was more than a CEO with controversial reviews. In the first debate she was clear, cogent, and compelling. In the second debate this last week she was even more so, with a powerful composure, an admirable knowledge of the world, and an iron will, not unlike our “Iron Lady,” Margaret Thatcher, in England. 

Ms. Fiorina has separated herself from other female candidates over the years, aided by Mr. Trump’s inappropriate comment, by making her presidential bid about merit not gender. Women sighed with relief nationwide. Did you hear it? That universal sigh? At last, we thought, someone who understands.

But what I hadn’t focused on, and probably why as a writer I have come to especially value her candidacy, is Ms. Fiorina’s use of language. She is a poet with an intuitive sense of the power of words, images, and symbols. She understands America’s need for the right phrases at the right times to draw our nation together, to heal our divisions.

Her closing statement, using the images of Lady Justice and Lady Liberty, spoke to Americans’ hopes and dreams, our very identity. It explains why waves of migrants are fleeing to the West with only the shirt on their backs, why thousands make great sacrifices for a glimpse of Lady Liberty in the New York harbor, why they count on Lady Justice for their future. It explains why America is indeed exceptional:

I think what this nation can be and must be can be symbolized by Lady Liberty and Lady Justice.

Lady Liberty stands tall and strong. She is clear eyed and resolute. She doesn’t shield her eyes from the realities of the world, but she faces outward into the world nevertheless as we always must, and she holds her torch high. Because she knows she is a beacon of hope in a very troubled world.

And Lady Justice. Lady Justice holds a sword by her side because she is a fighter, a warrior for the values and the principles that have made this nation great. She holds a scale in her other hand, and with that scale she says all of us are equal in the eyes of God. And so all of us must be equal in the eyes of the government, powerful and powerless alike. And she wears a blindfold. And with that blindfold she is saying to us us that it must be true, it can be true, that in this country in this century it doesn’t matter who you are, it doesn’t matter what you look like, it doesn’t matter how you start, and it doesn’t matter your circumstances. Here in this nation, every American’s life must be filled with the possibilities that come from their God-given gifts, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Such patriotism is scoffed by liberal academic elites. But after years of these elites governing, years of dangerous sophistication and overweening arrogance, years of enforced political correctness, Americans are disheartened and angry enough to look to someone brave and true. We bolt our doors and fear the dark. Our streets are not safe. Our police are attacked and prevented from enforcing the law, in communities where the law needs enforcing. And we wonder when terrorists, abroad or at home, will next attack.

I recalled Ms. Fiorina’s Lady Liberty when I recently read Rob Greene’s poetic description of the New York harbor statue (“The World is Still Yearning to Be Free,” Wall Street Journal). He writes of Emma Lazarus’s sonnet engraved on a plaque that was placed on the ground floor of the statue in 1893:

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,/With conquering limbs astride from land to land; /Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand /A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame /Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name /Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand /Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command /The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. /”Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she /With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, /Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, /The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. /Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, /I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

And to this day, we welcome legal immigrants to our shores, as long as they welcome us, as long as they embrace freedom and liberty, justice for all, speak our language, as long as they want to be Americans, unhyphenated, undivided.

The Statue of Liberty, made of copper, was designed by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, built by Gustave Eiffel, and given to the U.S. by France. Somehow, I would venture to say, our “Eiffel tower” is more powerful (and beautiful) than Paris’s Eiffel Tower. Representing the Roman goddess of liberty, Lady Liberty holds a torch that lights the path to freedom and a tablet of law inscribed with the date of American Independence, July 4, 1776. A prisoner’s broken chain lies at her feet (Wikipedia).

Ms. Lazarus’s poem is titled “The New Colossus,” referring to the Greek Colossus, one of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World,” a statue erected on the island of Rhodes in 280 BC marking victory over Cyprus. Our Lady Liberty, the new Colossus, is quite a different creation, a “Mother of Exiles,” a “mighty woman.”

And so is Ms. Fiorina. The tablet that Lady Liberty holds is the law of Lady Justice, blind justice, equal-under-the-law justice. Many Americans have forgotten what that means, as it grows more rare with each day. Many Americans feel they have been exiled from their own country or one day will be.

And so I thank you, Ms. Fiorina, for reminding us of these two great ladies, Liberty and Justice, and for giving us renewed hope in America. I pray that you inform the substance and standards of future presidential debates and that having raised the bar, others must reach higher. I pray that those who belittle excellence, who crave clamor over conversation, that they take note that this is how we want debates to be, this is how we want our leaders to sound, this is how we want to be represented to one another and to the world.

For we Americans have become those masses who are so very tired and poor and huddling and yearning to breathe free. We are exiled, and we want to call America our home once again.