All groups – expect WASPs – have suffered discrimination in America as they established roots. And the nation has suffered occasionally campaigns of defamation and even prosecution of distrusted groups. An ignominious aspect of American history which is a great irony in a nation that was settled and founded by people feeling persecution.
But as the Daily Show writers astutely and humorously noted in “America The Book”: The Puritans left persecution in Britain to come to America and one day, God willing, do some persecution of their own.
And, before I go on, let it be established that no one – not even the blacks – get is worse than the Indians. This continent was once dominated by them, but a simple question to put it in perspective: When is the last time you saw a sitting-bull Indian?
Often this prejudice was, say, refusing to hire the Irish or imposing a quote on Jewish university admission. But – from time to time – it become a national campaign of vilification as was the case with the Know Nothing Party in the mid-1800s which ran a former president on its anti-Catholic party platform. President Kennedy himself faced prejudice in 1960s with rumors running that he had divided loyalties between the Vatican and America, would build a tunnel to the Vatican and other fables that Kennedy wasn’t American enough (sound familiar?).
Worst episodes were the internment of German-Americans during World War I and over one hundred thousand Japanese-Americans during the second War.
And, at times, large percentage of Americans have held absurd and prejudicial beliefs: Such as a 1940 study which reported that 17% considered Jews to be a “menace to America”.
When one considers the recent anti-Muslim hysteria in this context, there is great cause for hope that Muslims will pass this moment like all before them and will one day become part of the fabric of this country … and maybe pick on Scientologists?