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!
 
Inscription on the Statue of Liberty
by the Jewish Poetess, Emma Lazarus

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It is shameful to observe how the entire democratic world dissolves in tears of pity,
but then...closes its heart to the poor, tortured people.

Adolph Hitler after the Evian Conference

   The Evian conference was a major international project assembled because of growing pressures for havens from Nazi persecution.  The decision of the conferees, including the United States was that things would remain as they were and that the escape routes for the Jews fleeing the Nazis would remain shut.

   Yitzhak Ben Ami came to the United States by ship to get help for the refugees of Europe.  He wrote about his thoughts as he saw the statue of Liberty in his book Days of Wrath, Days of Glory :

I thought of the statue's inscription written by the compassionate Jewish poetess Emma Lazarus:

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

Lazarus had also written prose about many of the saddest chapters in Jewish history and I wondered how she would have described the last several years, or what vicious irony she might have seen in her inscription gracing the gateway to the United States -- only recently the government had refused to allow several thousand German-Jewish children to be admitted into the country even temporarily.   When I had heard this what flashed back in my mind was the scene of hundreds of thousands of Austrians screaming Sieg Heil to Hitler on the Vienna Ring.  If several thousand children were too much for this great country, how could I delude myself that in America we would find the understanding and help we needed?

     The greatness of the United States is not something that is there because of an inscription it depends on day to day actions of Americans which in the case of the Holocaust was shameful.  Our own freedom in this country also depends on our day to day actions and our willingness to defend it.   Freedom of speech is continuously under attack in the United States. 

     Freedom is one of the most precious things we have.  Patrick Henry expressed this in a famous inspiring speech in which he said "Give me Liberty or Give me Death".  Seventeen centuries before Patrick Henry nother much less well known speech was given at called for death rather than slavery.  That speech was made by Eleazar, son of Jairus, the last leader of the Jewish Fourth Philosophy sect at Masada.

    Utopian regimes that attempt to create equality take away freedom.  Will Durant explained this as follows:

Nature smiles at the union of freedom and equality in our utopias. For freedom and equality are sworn and everlasting enemies, and when one prevails the other dies. Leave men free, and their natural inequalities will multiply almost geometrically, as in England and America in the nineteenth century under laissez-faire. To check the growth of inequality, liberty must be sacrificed, as in Russia after 1917. Even when repressed, inequality grows; only the man who is below the average in economic ability desires equality; those who are conscious of superior ability desire freedom, and in the end superior ability has its way.

     Milton Freedman pointed out that:

         A society that puts equality...ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom.

    Utopian societies often attempt to force men to follow what they perceive to be the right moral path at the expense of man's freedom.   They attempt to force men to hear only what they believe they should hear and see only what they believe they should see.    Societies that take away the freedom of their citizens in order to achieve Utopia, will never achieve Utopia because by definition a true Utopia would consist of free men and women.

   Thomas Sowell in a column (Dec 5, 02) about Josh Muravchik's book-"Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism.") wrote that:

the concentration of political power necessary to try to reduce economic inequalities has allowed tyrants like Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot to impose their notions and caprices on millions of others -- draining them economically or slaughtering them en masse or exploiting them sexually.

Mao Zedong, for example, had harems of young girls -- and occasionally boys -- for his pleasure in various parts of China.

There is no point blaming the tragedies of socialism on the flaws or corruption of particular leaders. Any system which allows some people to exercise unbridled power over other people is an open invitation to abuse, whether that system is called slavery or socialism or something else.

   There are times when freedom must be taken away.   Giving freedom to those who should be in prison enslaves those who should be free.   If criminals roam the streets people have to lock themselves in their homes, and put bars on their windows for protection.  The basic freedom of innocent people to live is lost when murderers are given freedom to roam the streets.  When criminals are locked up the primary reason should not be punishment, it should be to protect the freedom of the innocent.  When they are released the criterion should not be whether the criminal was punished enough, it should be whether or not he still poses a threat to the liberty of others.  There is a saying from Kohelet Raba, 7:16:

He who is merciful at a time when he should be cruel, is destined to be cruel at a time when he should be merciful.

    Many of the Judges in the United States are compassionate to the cruel.  This is also a problem with the American Civil Liberties Union.  They often defend the freedoms of those who should be in prison with the result that others lose their freedoms.

 

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Nonie Darwish in a speech to the Heritage Foundation had this to say about freedom.

As an Arab American Woman I especially treasure my freedom of speech in America. To write a book without getting censored or killed I can never take this freedom for granted having come from the part of the world that suppresses freedom of speech. As a journalist in Cairo I worked as a censor deciding what's allowed and what was not allowed to be published. This is a world in the Middle East where speaking out for Human Rights, Woman's Rights Equality and even speaking about peace with Israel is a taboo and it can have very serious consequences. Many of us who immigrated to America thought we had escaped Jihad, hateful propaganda intimidation and mind control. But we found out that even in America there are powerful radical Muslim forces who are trying to silence us. The Muslim cleric in Brown University convinced everybody not to have me speak so there is powerful forces that want to silence us for the sin of criticizing terrorism. I don't criticize Islam in the book but radical Islam is what we Arab Americans who want to fight terrorism are speaking against. Some of us even have received threatening calls saying you have crossed the line. Terrorism is like an elephant in the room that no one is supposed to speak about especially if you are from that part of the world originally...Freedom is so fragile a lot of people don't understand that because we've lived in freedom for so long we take it for granted ask people who didn't live in freedom how valuable this is how easy it can be taken away from us.

 

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