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View Diary: Who Am I?: Not So Irish After All (A Big Genealogy Surprise, Part 2) (180 comments)

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  •  Excellent Diary (1+ / 0-)
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    fenway49

    Tipped and rec’d. Thanks for writing it.

    There was a lot of racism and anti-immigrant feeling in the 1920s. The 1924 Immigration Law specified that immigration quotas would be based on the 1890 census, mainly because they had to go that far back to find a time when there were a lot of people coming here from Northern Europe (the UK, Ireland, Scandinavia, Germany, and so on) and not as many from Southern and Eastern Europe (Italy, Greece, Slavic countries, etc.) –people who were “swarthy” and who tended to be more Catholic or Jewish. And Africans and Asians were just not allowed to immigrate.

    About the same time, eugenics was gaining ground. That’s the idea that we should encourage procreation by good, hard-working people and discourage “undesirables” from having kids. We still have people like Pat Buchanan spouting that nonsense. And in the 1910s, IQ tests first were used on a mass scale to classify draftees in World War I, IQ tests which supposedly proved that richer, whiter, more Protestant people were smarter than the other types.

    I love reading about that era. I could go on and on about it.

    “If you misspell some words, it’s not plagiarism.” – Some Writer

    by Dbug on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 08:54:13 PM PST

    •  By 1924 (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dbug

      the Irish seemed not so bad. Just not quite Presidential material. In that year the Dem convention deadlocked over Catholic Smith and WASP McAdoo. Finally the Irish-dominated northern wing had enough clout to tackle the Klan head-on, and they had a very close vote on an anti-Klan platform plank.

      I recall reading a defense of William Jennings Bryan in the Scopes trial along these lines: Christians who truly believed in the dignity of the individual were appalled by eugenics and associated it with Darwin's theory of evolution. I'm not sure the people who opposed evolution were always the same ones who opposed eugenics, but it's interesting to think about.

      Republicans...think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it. Harry S. Truman

      by fenway49 on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 09:10:19 PM PST

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      •  I have several thoughts about that… (4+ / 0-)

        1. You’re exactly right. The Irish wave of immigration was around 1850. By 1924, after two or three generations of assimilation, the Irish were considered just another ethnic group (and they were a political force in places like Boston). But the 1910 Italians and the Greeks and Slavs! Oh no! We have to keep them out. They’re impoverished, they have alien customs and different religions, we’re going to be overrun. Some of them are criminals. And have you seen the food they eat? We need to pass a law to keep them out. They’ll ruin our way of life. This happened over and over again.

        2. There’s an essay written by Ben Franklin back in the 18th century where he worries about the influx of Germans (I wonder if he was thinking about the Pennsylvania Dutch and other similar groups). And speaking of Germans….

        3. In Minnesota, there are a lot of ethnic groups, English (in the southeast), Eastern Europeans and Finns (in the northeast), Scandinavians (in a lot of places), and Germans. In my (Norwegian-American) family there was sort of a prejudice against Germans. That includes both German Catholics and German Lutherans (plus you have to remember that the Germans lost two world wars). Germans were conservative. My family’s ancestors were all Norwegian Lutherans (and mostly liberal). When I was a kid, the Lutherans belonged to one of three groups: ALC was Norwegian, LCA was Swedish, and Missouri Synod was German. If you belonged to one church, you wouldn’t go to one of the other churches.

        Take a look at this map, which shows the most German counties in MN:

        Now look at this map, which shows the most Republican counties in the 2004 election:

        The Germans settled in the middle of Minnesota (around the city of St. Cloud), which is the most Republican area. By the way, this is where Michele Bachmann’s district is.

        4. Another thing, sometimes when you look back at history, progressives had good ideas and bad ideas. For example, the Suffrage movement wanted women to vote (good idea) but they also wanted to outlaw alcohol (not such a good idea). And there were eugenicists who advocated birth control and family planning (good idea), but their goal was to prevent African-Americans, Catholics, felons, mentally-challenged people, deaf people,and immigrants from having children (maybe not so good).

        If you managed to read this whole rant, thanks.

        And if you feel like reading more, here’s something I wrote on Daily about a few of My Norwegian Ancestors.

        Take care.

        “If you misspell some words, it’s not plagiarism.” – Some Writer

        by Dbug on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 11:34:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Read with pleasure (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dbug

          The Minnesota German stuff is very interesting.

          I have often thought, reading history from the 1924 period, that there's hardly anyone I agree with 100%. Woodrow Wilson, OK on economics, terrible on race and civil liberties. William Jennings Bryan, better on economics but not to my taste on religion, prohibition or evolution. Teddy Roosevelt, progressive on many things, but a militaristic imperialist who strongly opposed immigrant groups maintaining any identity from their homeland. Easy for you to say! And of course the Progressive reformers, who supported Suffrage as you say but also Prohibition.

          Republicans...think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it. Harry S. Truman

          by fenway49 on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 06:24:44 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

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