Friday, April 21, 2006

Time for a first post....

Hi everyone! My first real post (i.e. – a post other than “test”) is inspired by something I found while doing research for a class that I am taking this semester. While what I found wasn’t useful for class, I still found it very illuminating.

I found a letter, at, that proves, at least in relation to anti-immigrant fervor, that not much has changed in the last 150+ years. The letter sets out the presidential campaign platform of the Know-Nothing Party, circa 1856. Here’s what it says (with the blank line at one word that I couldn’t make out):

1. Repeal of all naturalization laws
2. None but native Americans for office.
3. A pure American common school system.
4. War to the hilt, on political Romanism.
5. Opposition to the formation of military companies composed of foreigners.
6. The advocacy of a sound, healthy and safe nationality.
7. Hostility to all Papal influences, when brought to bear against the Republic.
8. American Institutions and American Sentiments.
9. More stringent and effective immigration laws.
10. The amplest protections to Protestant interests.
11. The doctrines of the revered Washington.
12. The sending back of all foreign _____.
13. Formation of societies to protect American interests.
14. Eternal enmity to all who attempt to carry out the principles of a foreign church on state.
15. Our country, our whole country, and nothing but our country.
16. Finally, American Laws, and American…..

Other than the blatantly anti-Catholic parts (haven’t heard any serious rants about ‘Papists’ since JFK was running for President), this could have been written today, with very little need to edit for modern language and concerns.

From the Minuteman Project’s website (

“We have seen defiance of the rule of law by foreign nationals. We have seen protests across America with disdain for American sovereignty. Defiance of the law supported by protest is outrageous to those who are lawful and proud of America.”

“It is now time to stop complaining and start reclaiming America!”

Found at

“The Mexican culture is based on deceit. Chicanos and Mexicanos lie as a means of survival. Fabricating false IDs is just another extension of that culture ... [which] condones everything from the most lowly misdemeanor to murder in the highest levels of government."
(I couldn’t find a link for a group by that name, though a Google search for that group did bring up a site for something called "Glenn Spencer’s American Patrol Report" that was full of writings in the same vein. I didn’t search the entire site for a direct quote. That stuff’ll stunt your growth, LOL.)

The parallels between the anti-Mexican rhetoric today and the anti-Irish (and, to a lesser extent, anti-German) rhetoric of the 1840s and 1850s are striking. The Mexican immigrant tends to take jobs that most Americans don’t want, particularly menial labor; the Irish immigrant did the same 150 years ago. Mexicans usually live in the same neighborhoods; so did the Irish. Both groups are/were proud of their history, and still have/had strong family ties to the “old country”. And so on… All of which is used by the anti-immigrant crowd to whip up sentiments against ‘them durn furriners’.

On the one hand, it’s scary that a country founded on immigration could harbor such hypocritically virulent bigotry toward immigrants (hey, it’s hypocritical because ALL of us have immigrants somewhere in our family tree), even today. (BTW – I’m the grandson and great-grandson of immigrants. Port of Boston, late 1800s, and the 1910s)

On the other hand, the Know-Nothings, while they had a bit of electoral success in the late 1850s, particularly at the state level, were pretty much a complete non-factor politically by the mid-1860s. Gives me a little hope that the hysteria will die down soon.
Personally, I think that it will die down on November 8th, with a strong likelihood of resurrection as a polarizing/motivating issue if the Republicans feel that they will have their asses handed to them in the 2008 elections. Not that I’m a cynic or anything.

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