A Short History of Immigrant Fearmongering – And a Warning
When asked whether we should adjust our immigration quotas less than 5% of Americans surveyed said the answer was yes. In another poll, When asked if we should admit 10,000 children fleeing persecution in their home country a whopping 60% flat-out said no. Most people wouldn’t be surprised by these numbers, especially if they had been counted recently. But that isn’t the case at all.
The first poll was taken in July of 1938. When asked whether we should up our immigrant quotas to accept refugees from Austria, Hungary, Germany and other European nations fleeing the rise of the Third Reich, roughly 18% said yes, 67% said no. The second poll (taken in 1939) asks whether we should accept Jewish refugee CHILDREN into the country 10,000 to be exact, and 60% polled, wanted to deny them entry into the US.
Now you could say that the United States was going through a period of Isolationism, which would be true, we were still bruised by the fallout from WW1 and our financial markets were in turmoil so we had plenty to keep us busy internally. You could use that as an excuse, if it had been the only instance of this type of fear we’d experienced, but unfortunately, it isn’t.
Ever hear the term wop? It is a highly offensive term for Italian immigrants (and later Italian-Americans in general) , generally it is thought that the term originates from an acronym without papers or without passport, but this is untrue. But what that false etymology tells us is that there was great distrust for “the other” regardless of where they came from. What about the level of distrust and fear that came along with the immigration of Irish into this country? Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York very graphically illustrates the complex relationships of both established and newly arrived immigrants and their struggles with poverty and acceptance (and how they turn on each other as they become more integrated into American society).
There is also the long resentments between Chinese and Irish immigrants as well as Japanese American internment during WW2. In the last case, immigrants who had in many cases been born American were rounded up and kept in camps simply because of their heritage.
Hell, the poor Irish were even judged on par with “Negroes” in their perceptions as shiftless, lazy and procreative. The propaganda of Irish racialism was so widespread that it appeared in mainstream publications as justification of their judgment of the Irish as “racially inferior.” The Italians went through much the same, as did the Chinese, Indian, etc. etc.
So, you may ask, what am I getting at here?
None of this recent crop of Imigrintophobia is new.
That, however does not mean it isn’t dangerous, terrifying and could turn into something far worse. The “white rage” race-baiting of Trump (he has a bevy of supporters on the far fringe racist right) along with the implicit pandering to anti-feminists, alpha types and assorted other MRA’s, threatens to push us right to the precipice of having our own little lily-white Talibans. Already there have been lone wolves associated loosely with these points of view, shooting up schools, movie theaters and public places. Sikhs, Jews and Blacks have been random targets of bigoted violence. Some of the perpetrators of the violence have claimed to be a part of the “Beta Uprising.”
We are potentially headed down a very dark path.
I’ve heard a few pundits claim that this too shall pass, that the bigoted generation will eventually die off and the younger, more inclusive demographic will lead us out of this. Unfortunately this political generation is different. The middle-aged, white demographic, when it isn’t (sadly, I might add, because suicide is never happy) killing itself off, is living longer, staying healthier and getting more radical.
This generation of disaffected young to middle-aged white males, also serves disproportionately in the armed services, making them potentially very dangerous under the right ideology. It’s already estimated that there are significant numbers of military and ex-military personnel who have been radicalized in white racist ideology. Radicalized. Let that sink in.
None of this is new, except all of it.