Discrimination of Italian Immigrants in American History Essay

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Discrimination of Italian Immigrants in American History

Fear is a great motivator in man. In the 1920s, immigrants were coming over to the United States in mass quantities. Most of these immigrants were from Southern or Eastern Europe, parts of Asia and Mexico. Because these groups differed in culture, race, and religion from the majority of White Americans, as the immigrant population increased, so did hostility and displeasure towards them. Italians made up 11.8%, or 550,460 immigrants between the years of 1920 and 1930 (Historical Statistics, 456). These people received an extraordinary amount of dislike as they differed from white America in so many ways. When people began immigrating to America at the rate of five thousand
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Organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan became much more prevalent during the 1920s, growing as large as 10 million members across the country. These groups exploited racist and xenophobic tendencies in Americans to induce people to join. They used such phrases in their propaganda like “America for Americans” that caught on quickly with a vast number of people (Byrne). Racism was one of the main causes of animosity towards Italians in America during the 1920s. Italians typically had darker skin that “old stock” Americans such as the English, German, and Dutch, so they were subject to much of the same discrimination faced in African-American, Asian- American, and Latino-American communities (Levinson 475).

Anti-Catholic sentiment was another basis for hostility towards Italian immigrants. Julia Byrne, in her article “Roman Catholics and the American Mainstream in the Twentieth Century” noted:

Anti-Catholic prejudice was alive and even rejuvenated in some quarters in the twentieth century. Protestant "fundamentalists" and other new Christian denominations revived anti-Catholicism as part of an insistence on "original," pre-Rome Christianity.
Americans, goaded on by hate groups, feared that Catholics would pay allegiance to their “foreign King” (the Pope) rather than their new country (Pencak, 110). Although there was a strong argument for this, as much of the Italian immigrant
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