Hate in America
Hate is a strategy for domination. Social, political, and economic agendas use of this strategy and generate hate. When an agenda is realized, discrimination and persecution subside in intensity and scope. The realized agendas are replaced by new agendas. The newest agendas, derived from terrorist actions and Middle-East struggles, are involving Americans in hate-filled polemics and actions that are defining battlegrounds, polarizing communities, and leading to widespread destruction.
PART I-THE AGENDAS OF HATE
Hate in America - A short historical perspective
The development of the United States produced agendas that often contained discrimination and bigotry. The hate was not spontaneous but part of a plan to advance agendas.
The Agenda of Colonialism--Colonists arrived to take advantage of the land resources and opportunities afforded by a virgin America. The entry of European and Christian values into a continent that was inhabited by American Indians (Native Americans) of a distinctly different culture made clashes inevitable. Operating with government assistance, the colonists subdued the original Native Americans and usurped their most fertile fields, prized resources, timber lands, and grazing areas.
The Native Americans who agreed to cooperate with the Colonists and behave peacefully were still decimated. In June 1837, Seminole Chief Osceola was tricked into capture under a controversial flag of truce. He died six months later in prison. After the discovery of gold in Cherokee territory, Congress passed the "Indian Removal Act." In 1838, the Cherokee nation, which had its own written language and had adopted a constitution and manners similar to those of the white population, were taken from their land and forced to move a thousand miles to new homes in Oklahoma. The journey became known as "Nunna daul Tsuny" or "The Trail Where They Cried."
Nez Perce Chief Joseph, who had nobly assisted the colonists in their western settlements, summarized the agony of the subdued Native Americans:
I am tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed. Looking Glass is dead. Toohoolhoolzote is dead. The old men are all dead. It is the young men who say, "Yes" or "No." He who led the young men [Olikut] is dead. It is cold, and we have no blankets. The little children are freezing to death. My people, some of them, have run away to the hills, and have no blankets, no food. No one knows where they are -- perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children, and see how many of them I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired. My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever.
The Agenda of Economics--Tobacco raising in Maryland and Virginia and cotton production in the deeper South required inexpensive labor that was adaptable to a hot and humid climate. Indentured servitude in early America soon led to Africans being used as cheap slave labor. African American slave labor greatly contributed to the growth and wealth of the United States and to the prosperity of its people. The almost free labor provided cheap resources, reduced production costs and enabled industries to be competitive. Substitution of manual labor for capital released the capital for investment in other industries. After institutionalized slavery had been abolished, institutionalized racism returned African Americans to a status close to slavery. Two centuries of slavery extended into another century of economic exploitation by segregation, unfair employment practices and violation of basic laws.
Agenda of Racism--"Slavery was not born of racism. Racism was the consequence of slavery." (Eric Williams-Capitalism and Slavery) No citizens of the United States (other than Native Americans) have suffered the continuous persecution and economic denial of the African American population. African Americans were denied employment, housing, loans, mortgages, equal education, entrance to most universties, cultural benefits, restaurant seating, rest stops at hotels and motels, and other basic rights. They suffered beatings, cross burnings, lynchings and humiliation--separate places in transportation and water fountains. Until the Civil Rights laws of 1963 African Americans could not compete equally in the American system. By 1963, the financial and political control of the country and its institutions had been distributed to white hierarchies and their descendants, to those who took advantage and fought to preserve their advantage. By 1963 it had become impossible for the African American community to gain sufficient financial and political leadership in the United States.
Racism also shackled the Chinese and oriental peoples. Chinese laborers had been brought to the United States in the latter part of the 19th century to carry huge loads over mountains during construction of the Trans-Continental Railroad and to perform hazardous tasks, such as dynamiting sides of hills to construct tunnels. After accomplishing the life-threatening tasks, the Chinese laborers were discarded, many times beaten and robbed, forced to wander the country without protections and without families. In 1882, the 47th Congress passed the Chinese exclusion law:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That from and after the expiration of ninety days next after the passage of this act, and until the expiration of ten years next after the passage of this act, the coming of Chinese laborers to the United States be, and the same is hereby, suspended; and during such suspension it shall not be lawful for any Chinese laborer to come, or, having so come after the expiration of said ninety days, to remain within the United States.
This act was renewed in subsequent decades until it became permanent in 1904. It wasn't until 1968 that the U.S. Congress abolished restrictions on Oriental immigration.
The Agenda of White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) Dominance--The English Church, which was under the jurisdiction of Rome until the reign of Henry VIII, broke with Rome when Pope Clement VII refused to annul Henry's marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Henry received the annulment from the Archbishop of Canterbury. As a result, Pope Clement VII in 1533 excommunicated the English king. Henry VIII's revolt and the Protestant Reformation released animosities against Catholics. In the early Colonial years, the Anglican Church hostility towards the Catholic Church caused excessive persecution of Catholics in the colonies. The fear that Catholicism could replace Protestantism as a dominant force in America heightened the hostility and persecution.
Catholicism has always been perceived suspiciously--tyrannical, conspiratorial and controlling--and with good reason--it is centralized and hierarchical. The English established the state of Maryland as a haven for Catholics, the one place where their religion would be tolerated. Where the Anglicans (Episcopalians in America) settled, which was initially in the Southern states, Catholics were not welcome and those who arrived were severely abused, even after Baptists became the leading religious denomination in the South. After a Protestant Revolution in 1689, Catholics began to be subjugated in Maryland. Catholic Justices and other public officials were replaced. In 1692 the Church of England became legally established in the colony and English penal laws, which deprived Catholics of the right to vote, hold office, or worship publicly, were enforced. In 1704, an "Act to prevent the Growth of Popery within this Province" closed Catholic churches and schools in the Maryland province.
The Nativist movement, 1820-1850, claimed that the Irish and Roman Catholic immigrants were a threat to American life, or more appropriately, Episcopalian control of American life. The Nativist movement became a political party, the American party, otherwise known as the Know-Nothings. The Know-Nothings charged the Roman Catholic church with being subservient to the Pope. Catholics were growing in numbers, which meant growing in power, and possibly obtaining political control in America. Mob attacks on Catholic churches in New England occurred and some insurance companies refused to insure Catholic buildings.
After World War I, the Ku Klux Klan, which had been mostly a racist anti-black organization, revised its agenda to include Jews and Catholics, any group that could challenge white Protestant dominance in the Southern states. At its peak, the Klan claimed 4 million members. Since 1920, the Jews, who had been relatively free of excessive discrimination in the United States, including in the South, have sometimes been accused of gaining too much power. Some physical attacks on Jews are recorded in American history, but these have been scarce until recently, and usually were usually related to closely associating with Blacks or participating in civil rights causes. As Jews gained financial power, the WASP establishment subjected them in verbal attacks. During the 1920s and 1930s, popular figures, such as industrialist Henry Ford, radio commentator Father Coughlin and white supremacist Gerald K. Smith charged Jewish interests with having a coordinated plan to control the financial interests of America.
In all facets of American life, chauvinist White Protestant Americans formed a bloc to retain power. In industry. WASPs tended to hire WASPs as managers and promote those most culturally allied to them. In communities and vacation places the white power structure felt more comfortable when surrounded by fellow parishioners. "Gentleman's agreements" deterred outsiders from admittance to the ethnocentric WASP social world. In education, those who had the most influence in the prestigious Ivy league universities wanted to continue their influence and maintain the university's specific "culture." It has been charged that a few Medical schools instituted "hidden" quotas to limit (not totally exclude) minority groups, mostly Jews, from becoming a large proportion of the student body, becoming alumni and eventually modifying the university's "culture." Ivy league medical schools, which had student bodies composed of 20-50% Jews from 1918-1922, had a reduced Jewish enrollment of 4-12% by 1935.
These discriminatory practices were only part of a battle between new emerging forces and the WASP establishment that had the power and wanted to preserve it. The discriminatory practices targeted all competing groups and not any specific group. The competing groups also practiced discrimination. The "melting pot" and pluralism of American political and social systems, especially the decentralized congregational life ( a conflict for Catholics), allowed competing forces to use their ethno-centricity to advance. The American international power that emerged from World War II brought changes to power structures. The new structures demanded a more cooperative effort among all Americans. The expanding economy required an increased labor force, more skilled laborers, and a managerial staff that understood the language and customs of the new labor forces. WASP domination of the American system gradually disappeared.
The Agenda of Immigration--The American government and American industry welcomed the massive immigration that fueled the American economy and maintained a wage floor. After impoverished, unskilled and poorly educated immigrants of distinctly different cultures began to arrive from Eastern Europe in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Americans displayed a fear of competition. This was only a temporary phenomenon and the discrimination never reached a fraction of the hate that affected the African American and Oriental communities.
The largest immigrant groups of Italians, Poles and East European Jews all battled for share of the American economy, mildly struggling against each other and against the established Anglo-Saxon power structure. They had a peculiar advantage--the United States had become a pluralistic society and the government did not react uncomfortably to a group which pursued self-interest. What could easily be interpreted as severe bigotry in some areas of employment and housing were no more than contending for employment and fearing of immigrants, all immigrants, regardless of race or religion. All groups in the U.S. supported their own clan in an ethnocentric manner.
Demagogues have railed against African-American drug dealers, Papism, Italian Mafia, Jewish power, Mormon hypocrisy, Moslem intolerance, Arab secretiveness, illegal Hispanics. Any group can choose and pick from a variety of bigots and demagogues and make a case of intolerance. The demagoguery against the twentieth century immigrant groups did not translate into violent attacks and didn't prevent those immigrant groups from obtaining the advantages afforded in the American system. It's the end result that counts, and the end result for American immigrants of all origins have been positive. Unlike the Native Americans, African-Americans and Orientals, the Italians, Poles and East European Jews, except for a few isolated cases, have not been denied education, employment, housing and access to the vast wealth and materials of America. Pretending otherwise generates hate against the very institutions and people that had allowed the immigrants to achieve power and prosperity
The Native Americans could never adequately respond to the Colonial agenda and eventually succumbed to the onslaught against them. They survive only in sparse numbers with withered cultural ties. Those who are invisible in the White American culture can mold into that culture.
Many Native American tribes have been granted privileges allowing establishment of gambling casinos that relieve their poverty and their economic burden on the American government. A minority of Native Americans have become supported by ownership of the gambling casinos, giving these groups an estimated per capita income of $25,000. The great majority of the Native Americans remain as wards of the American government and live from welfare.
The African Americans had to wait for Civil Rights legislation to give them equal rights. Although the Civil Rights legislation propelled the African Americans into the mainstream of American life, enabling them to pursue education, employment and social opportunities, the legislation was insufficient. Many African Americans had on their own already pursued education, employment and social opportunities in African American and other institutions. The Civil Rights legislation brought these African Americans and their institutions into the mainstream. It still left behind the millions who had been severely damaged by centuries of persecution and discrimination and could not easily emerge into the sunshine of new hope. Many African American leaders who represented the more disenfranchised, Marcus Garvey, Paul Robeson, Malcom X., Stokely Carmichael, Rap Brown were either shot, imprisoned or ostracized by a society that controlled the direction of the African American movements.
The Civil Rights legislation is only the start of a substantially greater initiative to finally lift African American people from poverty and ghetto life. The social science of a school of thought, cultural relativism, promoted by Franz Boas that alleges that "differences in civilizational movement are not the result of races adapting to their environment, but of of cultures adapting to their environment," separated the idea of race from the idea of culture and provided an original concept to the understanding of racism. The concept of this school of thought challenges a school of thought that relates mental and physical superiority to genetics and to races. In cultural relativism, the marginal economic and social life of a broad population of African Americans are not due to the failures of these populations. It is due to the limitations of the Civil Rights movement. Whatever the reasons, the ghettos of African American life are a blight on American society and must be corrected.
The Chinese and other Orientals survived miraculously. Without exaggerated complaints, powerful organizations and use of the ballot, the Chinese and other Orientals faded into the background, disturbed nobody and slowly developed their communities. Today, the Asia Americans have one of the highest per capita income in the United States. Originally perceived as non-Americans due to their cultural and social differences with the established White society, the Chinese and other Asiatics have become the ideal Americans. America owes much to these communities. They have proved to be the finest of Americans.
The White Anglo Saxon Protestant rule in America has lessened and has dissipated itself among all of America's ethnic groups. In finance, education, industry and in political power, the WASP mentality is no longer dominant. The Catholics overcame the early restrictions and prejudice against them by their sheer numbers and by not serving Church interests. Today, the country has about 70 million Catholics, by far the largest of any religious community. The Episcopalian belief that the Catholics would swamp the country, control its political direction, and serve the Papacy have proved false.
The waves of Italian, Polish and East European Jewish Immigrants needed only time, a short time, to overcome the antagonisms and limitations that prevented them from gaining an equitable share of American life. Immigrants keep coming. Immigrants keep meeting some resistance. Immigrants keep progressing. America's agenda promotes immigration to increase the number of workers and consumers, to continue progress and maintain a floor for wages and prices. Americans have learned that immigration does not conflict with the American agenda.
As the old agendas were fulfilled, new agendas were formulated that promoted other forms of hatred in the 50 United States.
GO TO PART II
The New Agendas of Hate
january 1, 2003
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