Reparations Mock And Threaten America’s Greatest Achievement
Activists for reparations have been inundating Americans with a larger-than-life version of Black history, while historical comparisons to other groups inside and outside America are buried. It’s no wonder Americans don’t know that, from the 17th to 20th century, America’s unprecedented diversity was considered a vulnerable point of failure. It took hard work to bring together a unified American population, work that leftists have undermined.
Even today, many nations teeter on the verge of failure or experience diminished success because their governments find diverse populations troublesome. One policy prescription is to engage in ethnic or ideological “cleansing.” (See, e.g., here, here, and here.)
Indeed, were it not for other nations ousting disfavored populations, America might be as ethnically homogenous as North Korea or Rwanda. Instead, immigrants, from African slaves to free Irish to indentured Italians, ended in America when their own governments engaged in ethnic, tribal, and religious cleansing to restore their own population’s homogeneity. America became the Mother of Exiles, welcoming other nations’ “wretched refuse,” but it was a very caveated welcome.
In time, America built a peaceful and prosperous nation on unprecedented racial, ethnic, and religious diversity. Then it did one better. It became the world’s leading anti-racist nation, supporting the most successful minorities in the world. This is America’s greatest achievement and one that helped uplift the rest of the world. Once Americans understand this unique history, leftists will no longer be able to exploit their ignorance of and guilt for slavery and Jim Crow.
Some know that the first step in African slavery was for the slaves’ countrymen to capture them for sale to African, Arab, European, and Asian buyers for labor elsewhere. But few know that, from 1607-1924, most immigrants who came to America, no matter their race, came because their countrymen forced them out.
In the 19th. century, millions of desperate Irish, Jews, and Italians were forced to emigrate to America’s eastern seaboard. For three centuries, English Protestants had tried to squeeze Irish Catholics out of Ireland, finally succeeding with the Irish Potato Famine, which was essentially a genocide by famine. The Russian Empire saw Jews as a deviant race and began cleansing them. Meanwhile, exploited and desperate southern Italian ethnicities were deemed to be “scientifically” inferior, and their government urged them to emigrate. In the new western states, economic conditions forced hundreds of thousands of Chinese and Japanese to come for work.
Tribal ethnicity (as opposed to race) and religion remained the primary targets of cleansing. Ninety-nine percent of genocide victims and genocidaires were of the same race. Slavery has lingered in Africa and Asia, despite being officially abolished in most regions. Former slaves and their descendants remained perpetually tarred with a slave identity.
From 1800-1924, tens of millions of non-Protestant, uneducated, poor, destitute immigrants took voyages that, until the mid-19th century, were as perilous as any slave ship to America. In 1865, after the Civil War definitively ended black chattel slavery in America, four million American-born blacks competed with the wretched refuse of the world for jobs and other resources. Discrimination between immigrants and Americans and between immigrants and immigrants was reflexive and pervasive.
Every group faced “need not apply” signs, slurs, and over-policing. Severe hatred against the Irish Catholics drove illegal deportations. Anti-Catholic mobs torched convents and churches, sometimes with parishioners inside. The government condoned the inhumane treatment of thousands of Italians toiling as illegal indentured servants. The KKK targeted blacks, Jews, and Catholics, and Jim Crow laws targeted blacks but ensnared many poor whites.
The West’s version of Jim Crow laws affected Asians even more severely than blacks. Laws prevented Asians from owning land and, sometimes, their land was confiscated. Western states weren’t slave states, but they had Native- and Mexican-American debt slaves.
Jews, Irish, Italians, and Blacks lived in tenement housing in northeastern cities under conditions of deadly squalor and disease. Immigrants got the dirtiest and most dangerous jobs working in mines, building canals, railroads, and sewers, and as sexually abused domestic help. Tens of thousands died, and their families were left destitute.
“The boldest experiment upon the stability of government ever made in the annals of time,” was teetering on failure. America had to resolve endless cases of racial, religious, and ethnic discrimination. One effort was to limit the number of people entering America using targeted restrictions.
In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act and the Immigration Act. With the latter, immigration officials could subjectively deny entrance to “undesirable” immigrants, of whom Italians, Jews, and Irish featured prominently.
More laws targeted the inferior Mediterranean types from southern Europe until 1924 when the Golden Door to America was closed. Then came the Great Depression “repatriation” of over a million Mexican-American citizens and their noncitizen elders.
When it came to the immigrants already in America, public schools became crucial to avoiding failure. They were charged with unifying people with the American values of speaking English, working hard, self-reliance, valuing education, and abiding by the rule of law. There was still discrimination, of course, but immigrants rarely protested. After the treatment meted out in their home countries, America was still the better option, and here perseverance had its rewards.
After WWII, the Golden Doors to America re-opened wider than ever. Moreover, in 1964, Democrats finally joined Republicans to pass comprehensive civil rights legislation that would place America on a path to becoming the world’s anti-racist leader. The private and public sectors became fully engaged, and now American organizations spilled over with racial, ethnic, and religious diversity and equality of opportunity.
No wonder, then, that America is still a beacon for those in countries that continue to have ethnic and ideological cleansing. Thus, from 1900 to 1970, European and Arab nations, Turkey, the Soviet Union, and new Asian and African nations underwent unprecedented initiatives to force racial, ethnic/tribal, and religious homogeneity on their populations. Targeted expulsions and genocides multiplied exponentially.
America boasts the world’s most educated and prosperous black population. The household income of US Latinos is higher than in any Latin American country. Asian Americans are America’s most educated and highly compensated racial group. Native Americans experience a quality of life envied by indigenous populations elsewhere.
To better understand the significance of this achievement, consider that, in Nigeria, ongoing ethnic cleansing and conflict have some nations preparing for a failed Nigerian state. Nigeria is 100% black. Also, nations continue to see ethnic cleansing as a purposeful policy to simplify governing. Russia and China even endorse a “new standard that authorizes rulers to use any means necessary to create their preferred citizenry.” There have been plenty of takers.
The current narrative driving reparations is that blacks were the only people in American history to suffer from racism. While they did experience the unique insult of race-based chattel slavery (something tried with the Irish, who kept dying in the fields), the reality is that all new immigrant classes to America suffered racism, discrimination, and abuse. The American miracle is that America overcame this sadly human history and became something much better—something that leftists now want to tear apart in their quest for power.
Sadly, the activists could win for they are controlling what history Americans remember. They are selling an inaccurate—and partly fabricated—slave history. We are at a point where many believe Americans invented slavery. Meanwhile, they don’t understand that diversity, if handled badly, can be so polarizing that it still drives most armed conflicts, ethnic cleansing, and failing states.
America defied the odds, building a peaceful and prosperous nation from unprecedented diversity and, along the way, becoming the world’s leading anti-racist nation, supporting the world’s most successful minorities. If Americans were schooled in unrevised histories of discrimination in America and the world there would be no reparations movement, and millions of Americans would renew their pride in America and inform the activists that the jig is up.
You can find Kathleen Brush on Twitter.