With today’s mobs worried about competing with undocumented workers or sending jobs to Asia, it is important to realize that fear of competition among the working poor has long been a staple of American politics.
When the business owners used cheaper “coolie” labor, instead of being angry at the people doing the hiring, the working poor took it out on the Chinese, as in the case of the Rock Springs Massacre of 1885 where 23 Chinese workers were murdered with no consequences other than being honored as heroes.
In another act of mob violence against Chinese ‘competition’ led to the largest mass lynching in American history in Los Angeles in 1871 when 18 people were tortured and killed. The 8 men out of 500 in the mob who were convicted had their sentences overturned on a technicality.
For those of you who think American history is just black and white, the Chinese lived in “Calle de los Negros “aka “N-word alley”.
This was 18 ethnically-targeted people who were tortured and killed in the name of protecting something the mob felt was worth protecting.
The Chinese Exclusion Act was signed on this very day, May 6th, 1882. In fact, Asian immigration was made illegal until the mid 1960’s.
With the ability to move manufacturing overseas, it is fashionable to scapegoat the Chinese again and even Academy Award host, Chris Rock, made a joke about child labor…With people feeling there isn’t enough living space and jobs for the Americans who are here legally, many people want to scapegoat low wage undocumented workers in this nation.
These are complicated issues but let us hope that the rule of law and the greater good all win out and that America, which has been made greater by every new wave of immigration, will survive as the preferred destination of those seeking a better life.