Ah, freedom . . . In his great pamphlet, Common Sense , published in 1776, Thomas Paine wrote, “Freedom hath been hunted ’round the globe. Asia and Africa have long expelled her. Europe regards her like a stranger, and England hath given her warning to depart. O! receive the fugitive, and prepare in time an asylum for mankind.” It was Tom Paine’s dream that America would be a home for all those throughout the world who loved freedom. And Paine’s dream has come true.
In fact, it came true again recently for Chinese citizen Gao Zhan. She’s a scholar and a permanent resident of the U.S. She, her husband and their five-year-old son were detained in China in February after visiting their parents. Her husband and son are U.S. citizens and were soon released. But Gao was held for five months, ultimately convicted by a Chinese court and sentenced to 10 years in prison for espionage. Finally, due to pressure from the U.S. she was released.
Upon her arrival back in America, Gao told reporters: “Before I departed Beijing, I was warned not to talk about anything. Not to talk about my time, my experience in China, in any form . . . But with America standing behind me . . . I’m not scared. Here,” she said, “I can breathe freely, and now speak freely.” I hope America will always welcome those who, like Gao, love freedom. As it says on the Statue of Liberty: “Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Yes, that’s our land, our country! And let’s keep it that way.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.