Rating Hardships Among Immigrants
Hey, Everybody, listen! The US is a country of immigrants; we’re all immigrants, r-i-i-ight? Righto! OK!. So I think it’s time to rate which immigrants had the toughest time of it all. My conclusion may surprise all you innocents.
I was moved to make this investigation into hardships by an article in the 7/2-4/16 Wall Street Journal by one Warren Kozak. He entitles his tale of immigrant woe: Fleeing the Czars, Defying Gravity: A Fourth of July Immigrant Tale.
He begins his epic:
On July 4, 1900, Samuel Hoffman and his father, Moshe walked across the gangplank of a ferryboat that unceremoniously dumped them, along with a large group of fellow immigrants, at a dock on 14th St. in Manhattan. Independence Day for these newcomers meant liberation from Czarist Russia.
Wow! That’s a tough immigrant story. However, Kozak points out his ancestors exited a primitive society of black bread and gravy dipped potatoes to what may have been the most advanced country on earth and possibly the whole universe. Indeed, within just a few years son Samuel had become a multi-millionaire manufacturer while still speaking broken English. So, you know, from black bread to caviar in much less than a generation.
That’s a great story and warms the cockles. It is true that these immigrants were ‘unceremoniously dumped’ out on the streets rather than being welcomed with a brass band. That must have hurt their feelings and while they didn’t speak English they did speak Yiddish and while the US was nominally English speaking, NYC itself was nearly Yiddish speaking. Indeed Yiddish newspapers were plentiful if out two immigrants were literate as they appear to have been. So communication with their fellows was as easy as it had been in the old country.
Let us compare them with another group of immigrants who were themselves escaping from a repressive war torn Europe rife with religious persecution. While our two Jews who were leaving a primitive Russia for what seemed to them, according to author Kozak another advanced planet our group were leaving a superior civilization for a bleak undeveloped land with no amenities to be faced by murderous hostile inhabitants, no more than immigrants themselves, right? Who were hell bent on their genocide and succeeding a few times before these poor impoverished immigrants who had to wade ashore could establish themselves.
They didn’t become multi-millionaires overnight as it were, oh, no, they began decades of hard backbreaking work while fighting off the bigoted so-called natives. Natives? Hah! Immigrants like the rest of us.
Yes, we’re talking about Jamestown Virginia immigrants back in the brutally primitive eighteenth century. These dirt poor suffering immigrants knew what it meant to face bigoted natives who not only denied them entrance into the country club but murdered them.
Now disparaged as ‘Old Dead White Men’ by a new wave of bigots they paved the way, so to speak, for the easy arrival of later immigrants who were living in electrically wired mansions within a few years.
So, this Independence Day, 2016, let’s doff our Make America Great Again caps to those ‘Dead White Men…and Women’ who made this country great in the first place. Boom boom, it’s Independence Day!