Now that campaign season is in full swing, it’s time once again to be reminded of how terrible those damn Mexicans are… With candidates on the right already appealing to the prejudices and predispositions of their constituents, I thought we should take a brief look at the history of immigration to the Americas. You know, BEFORE the Mexican rapists feel compelled to build the impenetrable wall to keep themselves out…

In 1492, Columbus was a fucking douche

Despite what you were likely taught as a child, Columbus was a despicable human being. While his expeditions were the starting point of all recorded immigration to the Americas, they were also the beginning of the end for the indigenous peoples inhabiting the continent.

Columbus committed genocideI don’t remember any history lessons mentioning Columbus taking natives as slaves for both labor and sex. I also don’t remember learning about something called montería infernal, where indigenous peoples were hunted with dogs for sport. Those dogs were also sometimes fed the living babies of the natives, often while the parents were forced to watch in horror. Maybe this is why conservatives feel so strongly about immigration; they’re afraid of history repeating itself. I mean, who wouldn’t be afraid of ravenous, baby-eating dogs from Mexico?

McGraw-Hill’s “African Immigration”

McGraw-Hill - African ImmigrationThe history of chattel slavery started in the mid 15th century, a few decades before Columbus set sail. This was beginning of the European slave trade in Africa, and by the time settlers landed at Plymouth Rock, it was a well-oiled machine. For centuries, people were forced to emigrate from Africa to America as slave labor. Interestingly, the conservatives of the day weren’t opposed to this particular form of immigration (if you can call it that). In fact, an entire war was fought in an attempt to preserve it!

Irish need not apply

April 28, 1883 Harper's Weekly

Political cartoon from April 28, 1883 by W. A. Rogers – printed in the Harper’s Weekly

When a case of late blight spread from North America across the pond to Ireland, the effects were devastating. While it’s true that potatoes weren’t the only crop the Irish grew, it was the only crop the poor were allowed to eat or feed their livestock. This, in conjunction with the brutal oppression by their English landlords, is why millions of Irish chose to brave the transatlantic journey to the new world. Conservatives of the time warned of the dangers of taking in the riff-raff, and Irish immigrants were considered by many to be less worthy of a life in America. Here’s a quote from the Chicago Post in the late 19th century:

The Irish fill our prisons, our poor houses . . . Scratch a convict or a pauper, and the chances are that you tickle the skin of an Irish Catholic. Putting them on a boat and sending them home would end crime in this country.

Sound familiar? There’s something really fucked up in the brains of hardcore conservatives. They appear to have forgotten their immigrant past, and the brutal acts of ethnic cleansing perpetrated on the natives of this continent. They fear the “evil” immigrants, yet we (white Europeans) WERE those evil immigrants at one time. Perhaps we need to be reminded of the words etched in bronze at the base of Lady Liberty, the American symbol of freedom.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Is there hope on the horizon?

Well, if you’re from Latin-America, then probably… It would appear that Americans have found a new boogeyman to fear. So, as the trend of fear and contempt shifts from them damn Mexicans to them damn Muslims, it is likely that tensions between Latin-American immigrants and ‘Muricans will ease. Unfortunately, this means that Muslims will remain hated among the extremist Christian right.

At least, until a new boogeyman appears.


footnote:

Until fairly recently, I actually held a pretty conservative view on immigration. I was drinking the Kool-Aid, if you will. I subscribed to the notion of Schrödinger’s ImmigrantThankfully, my cousin stepped in to put me back in my place. She reminded me of the Mexican immigrants in my own family, and the struggles some of them faced or still face to this day.

Thank you, Sarah.

 

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