A brief history of America’s hostility to a previous generation of Mediterranean migrants — Italians

Nov 07, 2017 951

It’s a trope to say America has a long tradition of welcoming immigrants. This is only partially true. It also has a long tradition of treating immigrants with open discrimination and even violent hostility. The current debate over whether to accept Syrian refugees has echoes of a different time when another wave of people were leaving a Mediterranean country. They were seen by some Americans as being so alien in religion, culture, education, politics and law, that they could never be assimilated. They were even suspected of ties to terrorism. These were the Italians.

On March 14, 1891 one of the worst mass lynchings in US history occurred, in downtown New Orleans. Eleven men were hung or shot to death by a mob seeking ‘justice’ for a murdered policeman. The victims were all Italians. The case was not isolated. All five Italians living in Tallulah, Louisiana, were lynched in 1899 after a disagreement over a goat. In all, about 50 lynchings of Italians have been documented in the period from 1890 to 1920.

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SOURCE: http://southcarolinapublicradio.org

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