Nativism: Race and Immigrants
Nativism is the feeling that immigration and foreigners are detrimental to native-born Americans. Unfortunately, nativist’s feelings are not based on political convenience or logical theories, but on ignorant assumptions that produce religious, racial, and cultural discrimination. Many nativist groups or individuals, both in the past and presently, have one thing in common- the fear of not being in control.
The basic thing one has to see is that misinformation and short-sighted fear can often produce the absence of fairness and human dignity.
The Ku Klux Klan was a racist group who also committed atrocities in the name of nativism. The KKKs were formed because many people were started to get afraid of the “rising power of the blacks” and also hated immigration and Jews. “What was the rising power of the blacks? ” Is it because they were not slaves or maybe because they simply wanted to vote, a constitutional right! African Americans were still treated like property in the South under the Jim Crow Laws.
African Americans were denied their constitutional right to vote by various ways of intimidation; but yet the KKKs could do whatever they wanted and be protected by the “constitutional” idea that they had the right to express themselves. The KKKs were also anti-Semitic and anti-Semitism was prevalent in the U. S. To understand immigration better one has to see the factors that produced and produce immigration to America. Industrialization and social changes in Europe produced mass immigration from countries like Germany, France, and Ireland.
The Industrial Revolution transformed the small, agricultural society into a manufacturing economy which helped the U. S. to prosper and excel. Social changes were another major factor that stimulated immigration. Political upheavals, religious persecution, and a search for adventure were the basic reason for the relocation of these people. Why would they come to the U. S. to purposely try to create a political or cultural upheaval, if the whole reason they left their homelands was escape these problems?
The truth of the matter is that they just wanted to seek a peaceful setting that they could create a family and contribute to American society. There were two types of immigrants- the old and the new. The old immigrants of the past( which consequently was also divided into old and new immigration categories) and the new immigrants of today; mostly the Hispanics and Asians. Most of the old immigrants were Europeans- French, Irish, German, Italian, and Polish. Although the new immigrants of that time were discriminated by the native” Americans and the older immigrants ( British, French, and German) there was not the same animosity that is seen between present immigrants and native Americans. In the present, 86% of the newest immigration comes from Latin America and Asia while Europe only contributes 10%. The main difference between present immigration and past immigration is that most immigrants from Europe were male and white; however, present immigration is that most of today’s newcomers are from Developing Countries ; therefore, most are colored people who, either are married or have a family.
Some may say that new immigrants are less skilled than the old immigrants and that furthermore, they do not want to “Americanize” but actually most of the newest immigrants are educated and professionally trained. The problem with the American government is that they don’t give Hispanics or Asians any opportunities because they know that these immigrants will succeed! In fact what they do is oppress these immigrants until these people get fed up and retaliate for survival; then the Americans say how much a problem immigrants are without knowing that in time of vulnerability any human being is going to act irrational.
This is a day to day event in the U. S. ; one could say it is “political drowning of an immigrant. ” Why is it that these immigrants cannot have equal jobs as the people who have been educated here? The idea that new immigrants cannot effectively contribute to the American economy just because they are culturally different is simply naive. Why is it that the old immigrants did contribute to the advancement of the American economy and the newer immigrants are people who are just useful for menial jobs? One hopes that society’s judgment of present immigration is not determined just on their color of skin.
The problem with American society is the pessimistic attitude they obtain when things are not going their way. As Harry Truman wisely said, “A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties! ” Economically speaking, immigration is beneficial for the American economy. Several arguments are given to try to prove this wrong. Some may say that immigrants take away jobs from Americans. But what jobs? Most immigrants work as maids or janitors, jobs that Americans do not want to do.
What would the U. S. do without immigrants who are willing to do humiliating jobs for scarce amounts of money? Or maybe these critics of immigration are talking about the few amount of immigrants who want to excel and become successful? The anti-immigration people feel threatened and fear that these “minorities” will surpass the “native” Americans and they will no longer be able to control and manipulate these “ignorant, gullible immigrants. ” Another argument is that immigrants receive more than their fair share of welfare benefits.
But yet again in actuality immigrants pay their fair share of taxes. Julian Simon, an economist states, “ immigrant families typically pay more taxes than their native counterparts do. ” Also according to Julian Simon, immigrants arrive young and healthy and use fewer services on the average than do native families. New waves of young immigrants do not receive expensive Social Security, Medicare, and other aid to the aged. Finally a common argument is that for the U. S. , immigration is not an economic necessity but a luxury. And like all luxuries, it can help- or it can hurt.
The American economy is vital for the existence of the values that this democratic nation was based on. It’s ignorant to say that immigrants do not boost or stimulate the American economy! James Carter, Jr. once said,” Our American values are not luxuries but necessities—not the salt in our bread, but the bread itself. Our common vision of a free and just society is our greatest source of cohesion at home and strength abroad—greater than the bounty of our material blessings. ” The common vision that Carter was talking about was and is the most important thing of all- moral values!
Currently there are some myths that blind American society concerning immigration. For instance the myth that most immigrants are illegal; eventhough, no one really knows how many illegals there are, it is estimated that 300,000 people enter the country illegally each year compared more than a million people who are entering the U. S. legally. Another myth is that most immigrants have less education than native-born Americans. Actually of African-born residents, 88% have had a high school education or better compared with the 77% of native-born who have had a high school education or better.
Lastly, the myth that the newer immigrants refuse to learn English. Most of the new immigrants want to learn English but since their so busy trying to survive and work, they don’t have the time or money to have English classes. It seems that at of all the disliked races, the Hispanics and Asians are probably the worst discriminated class. Since blacks have become appeased with what they have, they really don’t create much of a problem. The whites can use them as their puppets and give them “little treats” such as an “almost important” job.
The African- American community is complacent, besides a few black leaderS, they just want to leave things the way they are. Unfortunately the blacks have gone so far and advanced so much that they don’t want to risk losing it all; eventhough, the dream that powerful people such as Dr. Martin Luther King had has not yet been accomplished. It seems that everything that goes wrong is blamed on the Hispanics and Asians. The Asians have always been discriminated somehow in American History beginning from California discriminating the Chinese to the Japanese internment camps after Pearl Harbor.
The U. S. has never really had a solid relationship with Asia. But what about Hispanics? In the Immigration Act of 1921 their was no limits put on Latin American countries because the U. S. wanted a good diplomatic relation with Latin America and because cheap labor from Mexico was needed on the farms of California. One could argue the throughout American history immigration has been validated by American society if it is beneficial for the natives in America just as long they don’t feel threatened.
For instance the Bracero Program, in 1942 when America needed the labor of aliens to help it with its war effort they allowed Mexicans to work temporarily in America’s industries. It appears that the volume of immigration seemed to rise sharply during periods of prosperity and to sink rapidly during periods of prosperity. The question still remains the same- is it really because of cultural differences or racial differences? But is it really a racial thing? Or does transcend just a simple racial problem? Are we really seeking racial equality?
For so long The Nordic theory has told us that the white man deserves to be in power. For so long the white man has thought himself as the majority and all the other races see the white people as the dominant race. But in reality the white race is a minority, they in essence have psychological domination in that everybody thinks they are the supreme race. All the minorities of the world resent the domination that white people have exerted for so long. This resentment turns into hate and eventually the minorities are going to do the same thing the whites did and sometimes even unconsciously do — hate another human being.
If one condemns the oppression of the “white man” than one is in danger of establishing his own form of pride in equality as a substitute for the racism he rejects. Furthermore he becomes arrogant over his own lack of arrogance and becomes prideful over his own lack of pride. To escape from this danger, he needs to cease arguing for the equality of all races, and just assume that racial identity makes no difference. There has always been the delusion of white supremacy based on the fact the white culture is vastly superior than any other culture.
The genesis of the dogma of white superiority reveals a fundamental confusion between supremacy and superiority. The first is an undeniable fact of the present world; the second is an invention of the mind to defend the first. Basically the conclusion is that because he is supreme, he is also superior. For so long the colored man has had to submit to white control and pretty soon they are going to get fed up. This could lead to a racial war which would be pointless because this whole racial problem is spiritual not physical!
In conclusion nativism belongs to something deeper than just immigration or even racism. Most of the nativists in the Know-Nothings and the KKK did not know that they were blindly proclaiming that the white race is the supreme race. America was built on the basis of freedom and unalienable rights that most countries could not offer. The racial problem will never go away because of the nature of a human being. A human being is individual and only cares about himself and unfortunately the U. S. is a capitalistic nation who only cares about its interests.
One could wish that the social injustices, racial discrimination, and different stereo-types will cease to exist, but as long as humans live on this earth there will always be injustices. The U. S. government will never be perfect no matter how democratic the principles are. Unfortunately, democracy has its flaws and deficiencies just like and other government. Harry Truman wisely said,“ No government is perfect. One of the chief virtues of a democracy, however, is that its defects are always visible and under democratic processes can be pointed out and corrected. We will never live in a just and faultless world because it is both spiritually and psychologically impossible. And history will just keep repeating itself in a continuous cycle, history is a very powerful tool to acclimate one’s self with the human race or the human identity. But one has to remember that one of the best things about good history is its power to reduce national arrogance and to promote reflection and caution for later on. Until we start looking at the human history through the world’s perspective and not just “American History,” then we will truly excel not only as American people but as a human kind!