I write today about a dangerous time in the history of our great republic; a time in which nativist prejudice rears its ugly head; an era in which xenophobic demagogues stir up irrational fears of outsiders in an effort to gain power.
I write about a time in American history when immigrants coming to our country in search of economic opportunity are accused of bringing crime and violence to our cities. I write about a time in which refugees fleeing to our shores are met with suspicion and hatred rather than compassion.
I refer, of course, to the rise of the anti-immigrant Know-Nothing movement in the 1850s.
As historian Orville Vernon Burton explains in The Age of Lincoln, as the Second Party System began to disintegrate, “Some hoped to bring together the squabbling North and South under the banner of a new nationalist American Party. Initially a secret society—when members were asked about its existence, they claimed to know nothing of any such party—it was inimical to Catholicism…and foreign immigration.”
I suspect that the Republican halfwit with a hairpiece who currently occupies the White House would get along quite well with the Know-Nothings, and not just because their name perfectly describes his own understanding of the most important issues facing our country.
Indeed, once you get past the fact that they were at least able to construct actual sentences, I suspect that you will find the Know-Nothing’s rhetoric quite similar to that of the “covfefe” typing sexual predator and some of his supporters:
Substitute anti-Catholic bigotry with Islamophobia and the similarity becomes uncanny.
– P. Sicher