Meaning of the Statue of Liberty Essay

The United States is known for cultural diversity as it accommodates people from different ethnic groups and nationalities. As such, it strives to unite all its citizens regardless their personal differences. The Statue of Liberty is one of the widely recognized symbols of Unity in the United States. Initially, it represented the reinforced relationship between France and the United States as it was a gift from a French artist to the United States. The Statue also denoted the United States’ freedom from colonization and also freedom to welcome people from different parts of the world. However, its meaning has changed with the change in political ideologies overtime. Today, the United States’ has a stringent immigration policy that prohibits entry of immigrants into the country. Such changes divide people’s beliefs with some arguing that the Statue represents the country’s pluralism and others believing that it symbolizes racial separatism. The Statue of Liberty portrays the United States’ pluralism as shown in the opportunities the country offers the immigrant, yet it is misconstrued by people who state that it is a sign or racial issues in the US.

My Claim
The Statue of Liberty portrays the United States’ pluralism as shown in the opportunities the country offers the immigrant. According to Stovall (2018), the robed woman in the Statue of Liberty communicates the United States’ significance to the rest of the world. For example, the woman’s right leg is raised to denote some motion, which represents progress; while the torch represents enlightenment. The seven spikes on the woman’s crown symbolize the seven seas and continents of the world. On her feet, the chain is broken, which depicts freedom from bondage. Rosenberg (2017) adds that the woman’s right foot that is seen to make a stride represents the United States’ spirit of welcoming immigrants seeking refuge in the country after running away from bigotry and civil conflicts in their mother countries (Rosenberg, 2017). Rosenberg’s (2017) and Stovall’s (2018) interpretations of the Statue of Liberty show that the United States has been committed to enlightening the world since its independence. As such, it has accommodated people from different nations and offered them opportunities for economic growth. Therefore, such opportunities account for the ethnic composition of the American population today.

Opposing View
The opponents argue that the Statue of Liberty does not communicate history of the immigrants. Rather, it is part of the racial separatism that the United States experiences today. According to Merry (2017), the critics argue that the Statue was intended to commemorate the long term relationship between the United States and France. Moreover, the standing woman with a broken chain on her feet symbolizes female’s freedom and a fight against gender inequality. As such, the liberty is enshrined on women’s freedom as opposed to protecting the freedom of people from other nations by welcoming them into the United States. Additionally, the opponents argue that the striding feet of the statue and the spikes on the crown denote the United States’ efforts to enlighten the world by sending a message of freedom to the seven continents (Merry, 2017).

The opponents have a narrow interpretation of the significance of the Statue when they state that it is part of racial separatism that the United States experiences today. Such a view fails to recognize than countries have policies against illegal immigration. In this case, the United States cannot bend its policy against illegal immigrants to adhere to the symbolic meaning of the Statute of Liberty. Furthermore, each year, the United States welcomes people from different corners of the world. Moreover, different ethnic groups constitute its total population meaning that it accommodates immigrants as long as they enter into the country with proper authorization. Berenson (2012) adds that people started questioning the government’s treatment of immigrants in relation to the perceived meaning of the Statue in the 20th century when the federal government enacted strict immigration laws. However, in the post-war years, some of the presidents, such as President Lyndon Johnson revisited the meaning of the Statue to revise the immigration laws to allow accommodation of immigrants from the war torn regions (Berenson, 2012). Therefore, based on Berenson’s (2012) explanation, it is evident that the Statue of Liberty continues to serve the interests of needy immigrants in line with the United States’ immigration policy.

Different events happen near Statue, hence showing that it represents national unity and integration of immigrants into the country’s economic and social progress. According to Rosenberg (2017), most protests concerning political issues happen around this Statue. Americans from different ethnicities participate in these protests that involve different issues ranging from immigration policies to women’s rights (Rosenberg, 2017). It is logical to conclude that congregating around the statue to air critical issues shows that people perceive it as a symbol of their loyalty to the country and unity. As such the government should strive to address their issues to promote diversity.

The Statue of Liberty portrays the United States’ pluralism as shown in the opportunities the country offers the immigrants. Although the opponents have reasonable counterarguments, their interpretation of the Statue is quite narrow. Primarily, they focus on the current stringent immigration policies that deny illegal immigrants’ entry into the United States. They forget that the Statue of Liberty does not support breaking of the laws. However, with time, some American presidents have revisited the significance of the statue to change immigration policies in favor of oppressed immigrants from regions experiencing civil conflicts. Furthermore, Americans from different ethnic backgrounds congregate around the statue to convey their concerns about issues that affect the entire country. Therefore, the Statue of Liberty portrays pluralism and unity.

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Berenson, E. (2012). The Statue of Liberty: A Transatlantic Story. USA: Yale University Press.
Stovall, T. (2018). White freedom and the Lady of Liberty. The American Historical Review, 123 (1): 1-27.
Rosenberg, E. (2017, March 30). Brand new colossus: A Statue of Liberty revival amid immigration woes. New York Times. Retrieved from [Web] January 30, 2019.
Merry, R. (2017, 4 August). The Statue of Liberty has nothing to do with the immigration debate. The American Conservative. Retrieved from [Web] January 30, 2019.