Keeping retirement real. My grandmother Esther wasn’t from Norway. She was an “Emma.”


Esther Wainer and Emma Lazarus.

In the wake of Donald Trump’s shithole remark there once again is attention to Emma Lazarus’ poem on the base of the Statue of Liberty.

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Emma Lazarus was not herself an immigrant. But her name and poem will always be connected to the welcoming of immigrants, a counter balance to the history of racial bias and quotas that is also part of our immigrant history.

My grandmother, Esther Wainer, was a Jewish socialist, feminist and member of the Los Angeles chapter of the Emma Lazarus Club.

She was not from Norway. She was born in Tsarist Russia.

Hearing Trump’s nativist, racist bile this past week brought back memories of Esther and her association with Emma Lazarus and the group that carried that name.

You can read about the Emma Lazarus Clubs here.

By the time I became aware of Esther’s activism, she and her Jewish women cohorts were well into their 80s.

Even at that age, I would see them at every Civil Rights and anti-war protest.


Esther would have been Trump’s worst nightmare.



5 thoughts on “Keeping retirement real. My grandmother Esther wasn’t from Norway. She was an “Emma.”

  1. My grandmother came from Norway. Wonder if that makes me welcome in the US? Possibly not since I haven’t written anything complementary about Trump in any of my online protests. This is proof that not all people with Norwegian blood love Trump.

  2. The man just keeps stepping on his dick.
    Nothing wrong with a reasonable immigration policy, but then dems would fight anything that had the trumpster’s name on it.

    I suppose Italy, Ireland and Spain were “shitholes” at one time.
    Norway not so much. By all accounts a happy semi socialistic society of 5.6 million homogeneous people with all the benefits of bountiful natural resources and no worry about national security or defense. Without you know who they would be goose stepping around the fjord with a few less freedoms.

    You would love it Fred. A country about the size of metro Chicago with $1+ Trillion on public pension funds. thank you oil and no defense spending.

  3. She was born in Tsarist Russia.

    So, and she was a socialist. Why didn’t she go back to Russia after it became a Workers’ Paradise? Maybe because capitalist America was still a better place to live?

    Just sayin’.

  4. My family is not from Norway either. All four of my grandparents hailed from Tsarist Russia. The shithole is our president.

  5. Opinion WaPo | ‘Shithole’ wasn’t the most offensive part of Trump’s Haiti comments

    The vulgarity and the insult to other nations are surpassed by a deep disrespect.

    TWO MONTHS ago, the Haitian Roundtable, a nonprofit organization based in New York, handed out its annual awards to Haitian Americans who have succeeded in the United States. Among them were a police chief, a museum curator, a hospital director, two Olympic athletes, a college chancellor, a poet and a state senator.

    Their achievements are impressive — but in some ways no more impressive than those of 700,000 other Haitian immigrants who are teachers, taxi drivers, nurses, janitors, firefighters and other hard-working, law-abiding contributors to U.S. society and the U.S. economy. Every one of them struggling honorably every day to make a better life for their children is a reminder of what President Trump fails to understand about this country.

    What is most offensive in the president’s comment on immigration to a group of senators on Thursday is not the vulgarity. “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said, referring to Haiti and countries in Africa and Central America. “Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.” What is most offensive is not even the insult to other nations, though that is certainly unacceptable from a president of the United States.

    No, what should sadden every American is to have someone living in the White House with so little respect for the courage of women and men who have been coming here from “shithole” countries for centuries — and who have built the United States into the great nation it is today. The Jews who fled the shtetls, the Irish who escaped the potato famine, the Italians who left hardscrabble farms in Sicily, the Vietnamese who crammed onto rickety fishing boats, the Afghans and Eritreans and Nicaraguans who ran from bloody civil wars — each and every one of them could have been turned back to their “shithole” native lands had U.S. leaders then been as obtuse as Mr. Trump is today.

    President Trump is under fire for referring to Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries as “shithole countries.” But the U.S.’s influence on Haiti’s affairs span hundreds of years. (Victoria Walker/The Washington Post)

    But they were welcomed, or at least tolerated — and thank goodness, because what they brought with them was far more valuable than what this country gave them, as generous as that often was. What they brought was not, in most cases, college degrees or fat bank accounts. What they brought was moxie and gumption. A refusal to give up. A belief in opportunity and in an American dream that was available to everyone, to black Haitians and blond Norwegians alike.

    Shortly after The Post reported Mr. Trump’s comment, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol reminded us on Twitter of Emmanuel Mensah, who immigrated from Ghana five years ago and joined the Army National Guard. He was home in the Bronx last month when a devastating fire broke out in his apartment building; he lost his life as he rescued others. “He brought four people out,” his uncle, Twum Bredu, who lives next door, told the New York Times. “When he went to bring a fifth person out, the fire caught up with him.”

    Most Americans understand how fortunate we are to attract such heroes to our shores.

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