This summer we’re bringing you daily posts from our sister site, Jewcy.com, edited by Gabriela Geselowitz. You can find more from Jewcy here.
In the least surprising news, Stephen Miller is once again a shanda fur di goyim. In case you missed it, in the White House Press Conference From Hell, the president’s advisor insisted that using the Statue of Liberty as an American icon for welcoming immigrants is fallacious because Emma Lazarus’s poem, “The New Colossus,” was added later.
Folks on the Internet have come through and made great points, like that the Statue of Liberty got the plaque the same year Miller’s Yiddish-speaking great-grandparents immigrated to this country. But of course, nothing makes a salient political point like a humorous tweet:
“In conclusion, may I please remind you that it does not say RSVP on the Statue of Liberty.” pic.twitter.com/iNdeyvDDtU
— Twitnter is Coming (@OhNoSheTwitnt) August 3, 2017
Whether or not you are not blessed enough to get the reference, rewatch this iconic scene from Clueless.
Honestly, Miller should take a page of out Cher’s book.
The two of them actually have a lot in common; they’re both Jewish Americans raised in comfort in the Los Angeles area. But over the course of Clueless, Cher Horowitz, as a teenager, learns to rethink her own biases. She often hurts people with her own selfishness—including racism against immigrants, like when she dismissively assumes her Latina maid is from Mexico. But it’s scenes like the class debate that reveal the smart, insightful young woman under the surface of the ditzy Valley girl.
When Cher was at the age where she was learning to care for others, and spearhead her school’s disaster relief campaign, Miller was starting to appear on conservative talk radio. Cher used her intelligence and privilege to become educated, Miller used his to become indoctrinated.
And of course, there’s a third important figure here: the poet in question, who wrote what, according to Miller, was an unimportant addition to the State of Liberty, and, according to Horowitz, did not write “RSVP” (technically true).
Was Emma Lazarus not the Cher Horowitz of her day? OK, obviously, in many ways not. Lazarus was a prominent writer and political activist, and while we don’t know what happens to Cher post-High School, she’s more likely to be a private lawyer taking on pro-bono cases and hosting charity balls with her husband, Josh, also a lawyer (not to begin writing a Clueless fanfiction, because just try me. It’s bound to be better than the TV show).
But Emma Lazarus actually has quite a bit in common with Horowitz and Miller. Despite her association with the wave of Eastern European Jewish immigration at the turn of the twentieth century, Lazarus’ family had roots in America since before the Revolutionary War. Lazarus, too, had a wealthy American upbringing in a Jewish family, and the privilege of sufficient assimilation and financial means to need not worry about others. In fact, at the time, many established Jewish families were embarrassed of the unwashed masses of their brothers and sisters swarming to the United States. But Lazarus, after learning about pogroms overseas and reading Daniel Deronda, remembered that it was not long ago that her own people were persecuted, and that injustice in the world persisted despite her own success.
Remember, Cher was based off of the titular character in Jane Austen’s novel Emma. Coincidence? Yes, completely. But the name is another spiritual link between these two Jewish women who, despite not ever needing to, became adults, and cared for those other than themselves, and specifically, to recognize the plights of immigrants. Stephen Miller became a white supremacist with the memory of a goldfish, who would easily lose in a debate against either woman. In a sense, he already has:
“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.”
“And so, if the government could just get to the kitchen, rearrange some things, we could certainly party with the Haitians. And in conclusion, may I please remind you that it does not say R.S.V.P. on the Statue of Liberty?”
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Gabriela Geselowitz is a writer and the former editor of Jewcy.com.