President Thomas Jefferson’s phrase,“all men are created equal,” did not save Italians and their descendants from hatred in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Viewed as “perpetual foreigners,” Italians were restricted to low-paying jobs. Congress responded with the biased Emergency Quota Act of 1921 and the Immigration Act of 1924 that restricted Italians and other white ethnic groups.
Also, U.S. Protestants suppressed Catholics (most of whom were Irish) and even burned Catholic churches.
Surprisingly, though, Catholics, under the direction of Archbishop John Hughes (1880s), were advised “not to respond to the provocations.”(Martin Luther King Jr. later employed this nonviolent approach during the 1960s.)
In 1890, one mass lynching of 11 Irish-Americans, unjustly accused for the killing of a police chief, met “judge lynch.”
Irish-Americans were stereotyped as monkeys, alcoholics and “white Negroes.” Written by whites, NINA (No Irish Need Apply) job applications mirrored the African-American discriminatory “no Negroes need apply.”
Although loathing Nazis, NBC-TV and Hollywood continued to portray Poles as stupid and subhuman. We have all heard the joke about the lightbulb. In 2007, Fox aired a controversial Polish slur:“Come on, it’s in your blood, like kielbasa and collaborating with the Nazis.” Fox later apologized.