The United States is often called a great melting pot of immigrants. But because of the insatiable greed of early American capitalists, the beautiful potential of this heritage was thrown into chaos, hatred, and disorder.
Horrible crimes were committed on all immigrants to establish the racial hierarchy: many know how wealthy plantation masters and land rentiers used the legal system to dehumanize African slaves and American Indians. But poor European immigrants were also abused and oppressed to make a profit.
Back in Europe, the rise of enclosure, usury, and mercantile capitalism ravaged the working-class of Christendom. This, along with religious persecution, caused waves of immigration to America. Throughout the 17th to 19th centuries, many European immigrants came as indentured servants. Enduring deadly voyages, only slightly better than the Middle Passage, they could be sold as property on arrival. Beatings, whippings, and rape were common. Servants could not vote or participate in juries. Meanwhile, under the Headright System, wealthy elites were given rewards for every servant indentured. Historian Abbot Smith notes: “the system of indentured servitude was the most convenient system next to slavery by which labor became a commodity to be bought and sold. It was profitable for English merchants trading to the colonies to load their outgoing ships with a cargo of servants…” (Colonists in Bondage, Page 4)
Despite their common struggles with African slaves, the legally enforced white supremacy divided servants from their fellow workers. This racial hierarchy was also used against those we now consider “white.” The first wave of immigrants, which ended around 1880, was mostly from Northern and Western Europe. In 1700, the Virginia House of Burgesses stated, “The Christian Servants in this country for the most part consists of the Worser Sort of the people of Europe. And since… such numbers of Irish and other Nations have been brought in… we have just reason to fear they may rise upon us.” (Source) The American elites, White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs), slowly allowed Irish, French, Scots, and Germans to be considered true “whites”.
As these generations Americanized, losing touch with their ethnic traditions, the second wave of immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe (Polish, Hungarian, Russian, Italian, Slav) took on the cruel toil of the working-class, treated only slightly better than blacks. Racial theorists such as Francis Walker fretted about the “degeneration” of the “white race” due to migrants coming from “every foul and stagnant pool of population in Europe… degraded below our utmost conceptions” (“Restriction of Immigration”, 1896). The same mentality of racial purity, and the same oppression of immigrant workers by capitalists, is continued today against a third wave of emigrants from Asia and Latin America.
Europeans came with rich cultures, but their ethnicities were slowly melted away into American whiteness, so that some could join the comfortable American middle-class. Instead of forming a new culture, they would inherit liberal anti-culture: a society of consumerism, racism, and bourgeois morality. We can build a better future for this great nation only when the God-fearing working-class unite in a spirit of brotherhood, e pluribus unum.