Saturday, November 21, 2015
When Italian immigrants were "the other"
From 2012: someone trying to shame American white ethnics into buying into Sixties identity politics (political correctness: you too can be a favored victim class) to let in a hostile religion (let's ask the families of the Boston Marathon and Paris victims how that's working out): When Italian immigrants were "the other."
Right, and the Irish 50-100 years earlier faced the same problem almost to the same degree (it's been exaggerated but it happened), even though they were fellow northern Europeans, because of course they were Catholic. But these groups (don't forget the southern Germans, here since colonial times, the Poles, and the Louisiana French) didn't cry victim like Sixties identity politics (the Poles in Britain still don't; they're pillars of society); they built their own Catholic America (Catholic schools, for example) and enriched their hosts' society, 100% Catholic and proud to be American, so our Protestant hosts came to love us Catholics, by the '50s. (Every war-movie platoon had a Tony from Brooklyn, because it was true, and everybody loves Italian-American food.)
It all really comes down to whether the church and America are compatible. (America should have stayed loyal to Britain in the 1700s, but let's work with what we've got.) The Protestant nativists rightly saw that the church and their vision of America, not as truly neutral/impartial but Protestant, weren't. (They really wanted heresy to be the law of the land, and the modern liberals really still do; the church said no to heresy and indifferentism and of course still does.) I'll say that the church and true religious impartiality (neutrality, not indifferentism) at least implied by the founding fathers are compatible, which is why pre-Sixties America was such a great home for Catholics. We peaked around 1960; the American Northeast was almost a Catholic country. At least we and the Protestants had Christianity and European culture in common, so it worked. (Then we squandered that at Vatican II; the Rockefellers bought us off and so we caved to the Sixties, in practice, not in principle.)
Some say only the best Italians stayed here; those who couldn't make it here went home. (By the way, there's nothing wrong with making your fortune here, then returning. I understand the Greeks do that, or used to.) And maybe the 1925 restriction on immigration actually helped the Italians here stabilize and move up. Basic economics: a country has limited resources, which is why illegal immigration is theft, not mercy. Even too much legal immigration puts too much of a strain on a country. Citizens first.
The lefties often have a point, as they do here about "othering"; most of their ethics are stolen from Christianity and distorted, here a distortion of the ethic of universal love.
By the way the Italian immigration was overwhelmingly southern (lots of Neapolitans, Calabrese, and Sicilians), the regions that lost out in the Risorgimento that created Italy (the northern secular liberals won), so the Italian that survives here, either the whole language among the second generation (I know some of them) or food words the third etc., English-only generations still use, is southern dialects (half-)remembered phonetically (so for example mozzarella is mootzarell or, Sicilian, mootzadell).