Thursday, August 12, 2010

Looking back at a “nativist” riot…


Let’s jump right on in, shall we?

I truly enjoy it when my hometown daily publishes a look back at a day in St. Louis history.  It’s amazing to read about long ago happenings in places I drive by or visit everyday.  So, I eagerly dove into the article looking back at the city’s “nativist” riots in 1854.

Nativism ain’t new.  I’ve always found it interesting…a group of immigrants move into a territory, plant roots and live there for a spell and then freak out when a new group of immigrants moves in and tries to establish roots.  The use of the term “nativist” is also interesting, given that a lot of Missourians seem to forget that there were people living here before people “discovered” here.

Even though we have a strong immigrant history, St. Louis has a history of reacting violently to the introduction of new populations.  One of the worst race riots in America history took place here in 1917…with over 100 people murdered and wide spread destruction of property…when white workers felt threatened by cheaper black laborers who migrated North to flee Southern oppression.  But, although many remember the 1917 riot, few recall the riots of 1854 that were kicked off by the arrival of Irish immigrants to the city.

The 1854 riots are particularly interesting because they center on the vote.  One political candidate courted Irish immigrants while “nativists” were courted by another…a call for “nativists” to monitor polls to protect against illegal voting triggered all manner of violence and ultimately led to the riots.

Fastforward to the present and not a damn thing has changed.

Missouri has a standing date with legislative attempts to impose voter id requirements…and now we’ve got this shameful mess about amending the Constitution to deny citizenship rights to babies born on American soil.  All of this is about politics…fear of the other and fear of losing the power that comes with being the majority.  The voter id shit is a continuation of this state’s never-ending fear of black liberal voters…the citizenship drama centers around the fear of Hispanic babies growing up to become Hispanic voters.

And the language is often the same too…pundits spoke of Irish immigrants “dropping babies” and then they moved on to speak of black people “dropping babies”, so it’s not surprise that they are now pontificating about Hispanics “dropping babies”.

This has all happened before and it will unfortunately happen again.

But a look back shows us that the root of the problem isn’t documentation…that’s just the hook.

The root of the problem is fear of losing the power that comes from being established and knowing that some other group is moving in and may shake shit up.

Pause…consider…continue.

I suspect that in the subconscious of those “natives” from 1854 was a remembrance of what they did when they were the new kids on the block.

I can’t help but wonder if that fear and the violence it inspired had something to do with how they manifested their destiny and how they imagined the new other would plant their roots…like they did, on the neck of the people who were already here when settlers “discovered” Missouri.

5 comments:

Mark said...

Beautifully written Shark-Fu. Just.. historical poetry, that's all. Preach sister preach!!! Interesting note on immigration and the vote.. Republicans are scared shitless about illegal immigration because most Latinos vote Democrat (except the Cubans; exception proving a rule). Republicans then accuse Democrats of supporting illegal immigration because Democrats supposedly want more Dem votes.

But another epiphany I had today in the car. I of course, oppose the end of our 14th Amendment birthright citizenship. With no citizenship rights bestowed on immigrant children, their primary path to upward mobility would be cut off.. horror.. thus creating a permanent underclass!

Then, my dad cunningly pointed out that a permanent underclass of cheap Latino labor is exactly what Republicans want. "Seperate but equal".. sound familiar? Boooo! Fight the power! And, if I may be so audacious, Viva la Raza!

Mark L said...

Might I add, although I am sure you already know. that the REASON Spain, Europe and the U.S. got massively rich is precisely because they looted the wealth of gold, silver, and precious gems from places like Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, etc. which are now synonymous with poverty-stricken s***holes.

And so much of our culinary nutrition and wealth comes from Mexico! Corn, tomatoes, potatoes, chocolate, vanilla, strawberries, avocado... I could go on.. in fact, the added nutrition from New World foods, plus the rising standard of living from more silver and gold in circulation, might just have set off the population and technology boom that began the Industrial Revolution!

So it could be argued that illegal immigrants are simply following the trail of their country's original, stolen wealth when migrating to Europe or the U.S.A. It could also be argued that this is an ironic revenge for the original ethnic cleansing of Native Americans by whites, since most Hispanics, illegal or not, are part or full Native American in ancestry.. oh, circles within circles!

Excellent post Shark-fu. I'll go to bed and get a life now, but I am sending you some love from the bottom of my geeky heart. Word!

Lincoln said...

OMG, did you see the article that USA today and a whole truckload of other papers ran with?? They scrambled up the numbers on a report the Pew Hispanic folks did. They reported that, on average, because undocumented families were younger and more fertile than US couples, they tend to have more babies.

Lord have mercy (to swipe from you), this spin jockies jumped this and have twisted it to make it sound like white folks need to be terrified of being overrun by illegal babies!!

Even though, if they had bothered to cite the handy piechart at the side of the page, all their readers would know that undocumented babies only account for 8% of the births across the country.

8%. Hardly over-runnin' things.

I wrote about it over at my blog

www.talkaboutgayracism.com

Whitey Lawful said...

A nativist riot can include negroes if they do not exclude Americanism.

P.A.Brown said...

That's exactly what's prompting the ugliness today. The Anglos can see they are being outnumbered by 'the others'. They know the day is coming and they are not going down without a fight. Whether or not they win in this round, or even get the 14th Amendment repealed, but the day will still come when Anglos are no longer the majority then they better hope Americanism doesn't turn around and bite their **s.