Un-American Immigration: New Generation, Same Rhetoric

For a little Tuesday reading here’s an excerpt from the book titled “Un-American Immigration: It’s Present Effects and Future Perils” published in 1894. I believe you’ll notice a striking familiarity with it’s tone. Thanks to Google for scanning this book in so we can easily access it for study.

This is just a small portion of this text, as you can see.

Here’s the link on Google: Un-American Immigration: Its Present Effects and Future Perils : a Study.


5 thoughts on “Un-American Immigration: New Generation, Same Rhetoric”

  1. Nativist arguments haven’t changed much over the years, but neither have those on the pro-migrant side. From pro-migrants, you generally see a lot of flag-waving (literal or metaphoric, for instance, highlighting the contributions of immigrants to the U.S. military), arguments about the positive economic benefits of immigration to the native population, and protestations that immigrants don’t commit as much crime as the native-born population.

    Some of these are valid points, but overall it is essentially a defensive, reactionary posture.

    What you don’t see much of are hard questions about the nationalist frame that fosters and nurtures nativism. You don’t see much rights-based analysis of the issue, looking at the right to migrate as a human right or questioning whether the current international political system really is conducive to the right to self-determination.

    In my opinion, you can’t effectively combat nativism without taking a hard look at the failings of nationalism.

  2. I do have a hard time with this. Because so many are proud to be in America and to be Americans regardless of what that means today, it’s difficult to combat that sense of nationalism which leads to things like the anti-Middle Eastern sentiment after 9/11. The togetherness that seemed to last for a few minutes was a great example of what this country could be, but it very quickly turned into a nightmare of Middle Eastern demagoguery and a call for war unchallenged by most of the public.

    Personally I don’t know how to address this issue and I certainly don’t feel I have the intellectual capital to do it; though I hope to work towards that ability. My only hope here is that I can keep more citizens from feeling that the nativist rhetoric actually has value.

    However, I do believe that the nativist argument is less about nationalism and more about keeping America ‘looking’ a certain way. Many of the nativist leaders have clearly stated their fear that this will shortly cease to be dominated by whites So in this case it’s not America their defending, but a desire to keep America white. Nationalism is buried in this vision of what America should be which is often referenced backward in time to a period clearly dominated by whites.

    I believe the recent video from Breakthrough does a good job showing the true mindset of nativism which I don’t believe has changed much over the years. I hope that someday more people will recognize the impact our government’s actions in other countries has on the struggle for human rights. Obviously Iraq is an atrocity and it sickens me to know my country is the perpetrator.

    Thanks for your comments and I’ll definitely be thinking about this moving forward.

  3. Then as now the media appears to find it difficult to write about immigration without any form of balance.
    Nothing about the Chinese building the American railroad infrastructure. Of which this is an excerpt from one account:
    “Even though the Central Pacific –realizing how valuable they were– treated them better than most, they were still not on a par with the whites. A white laborer was paid $35.00 a month plus room and board and supplies. The Chinese were paid $25.00 a month and paid for their own food, supplies, cook and headman.
    After a strike in the Sierras, where they won the right not to be whipped and beat and another strike in the Nevada desert, they got up to $35.00 a month but still paid for their own supplies.”
    The main thing that saddens me about the current political crop coming from US politicians is that the US should be focusing it’s attention on it’s unjust war; leading to the deaths of many thousands on innocents; vast deficits that result in China owning much of the US (what irony) and a political system that is questionable at best and downright corrupt at worst – Agriprocessors – just the last in a long line of abusers with friends in high places.
    American politicians are more of a threat to the average US worker not immigrants; and before I’m accused of hypocrisy, I think much the same is true in the UK.

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