The Golden Age of Assimilation?


UPI's Jim Bennett pens a reasonable-sounding column about immigration politics and the recall, in which he echoes a common immigration-reform sentiment by lamenting the passing of the Good Old Days of hard-headed assimilation.

As a response to these [immigration-related] challenges, many reformers and activists of that era [1890-1920] expended much effort on integrating immigrant groups, fighting the crime, poverty, and corruption that came with them, and in promoting an assimilationist agenda. This effort was in the end successful, culminating perhaps in the successes of World Wars I and II, where Americans of every immigrant group, including nationals of the states with which America was at war, gave a high degree of support to the war effort, and receiving in return a genuine acceptance from the general population.

This may be partially true, but it's also partially true that many non-whites (and Jews) received in return racist housing codes preventing them from living in "good" neighborhoods.

In my neighborhood of Los Feliz, which has been a bedroom community for Hollywood liberals since the days of Charlie Chaplin and Cecil B. DeMille, the local residents association went bonkers with a "Race Restrictions Committee" during the glory days of 1943-47, which energized members like no campaign before or since. "If non-Caucasians permeate the district, the high class residential character would be seriously affected," the association warned, while banning darker pigments from owning or renting in the 'hood. This, of course, was "in no sense derogatory or prejudicial toward any race ? the purpose of reestablishing the restrictions was to maintain the high residential character of the area and to prevent a decrease in property values."

In California's colorful history, sensible non-multiculti discussion about immigration has led, frequently, to illiberal and immoral public policy, including (but not limited to) the mass 1930s expulsion of Hispanics, a large percentage of whom were born in the United States. The Good Old Days, as usual, weren't nearly as good as all that. (Link via Instapundit)