FWD.us really ought to throw up a job listing for someone with a clue. Check out their latest misstep, via the Verge: a rewritten version of “The New Colossus,” the sonnet famously inscribed at the foot of the Statue of Liberty, which begins: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
In the latest ad from Zuck and friends, the poem now diverges into: “And give me the influencers and the dreamers, talent that is searching for purpose, those dedicated to the doing. Send all these, the boundless borne to me.”
The original last line, “I lift my lamp beside the golden door,” now reads like it’s about $$$, plain and simple.
You know, the thing about Steve Jobs is that somehow, despite his dickish tendencies, he could actually pull this sort of thing off.
In his intro for the ad, Zuck writes: “Drawing on our history as a nation of immigrants, ‘Emma’ is the new ad from FWD.us showing how passing reform is our chance to keep America a magnet for the world’s brightest and hardest working people.”
But that’s not necessarily what the original, with its welcome to the world’s “wretched refuse” is about.
“The New Colossus” wasn’t perfect. It’s not like this was a universal sentiment at the time; when Emma Lazarus wrote the poem in 1883, many Americans weren’t exactly welcoming the immigrants streaming into New York Harbor with open arms. But “send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,” while it’s pretty patronizing, is at least representative of a national commitment to try to be a haven for the world’s worst off.
This rewrite, like so much of the work done by FWD.us, reframes the immigration debate in terms of Silicon Valley’s never-ending battle for tech talent, putting it on the same plane as free food and extravagant developer salaries. Sure, send us some refugees, whatever, but mostly give us the cream of the crop so we can shore up that stock price.
Happy 4th of July, everybody!