Discrimination of Irish Catholic Immigrants During the 1920’s
During the 1920’s there were many controversial issues. There was a concern about declining moral and ethical values, which led to restrictions such as prohibition for example. The concern about these issues seemed most intense when they pertained to religion. In situations like these it always seems necessary to place the blame somewhere. One particular group on which this blame was emphasized happened to be the immigrants. Irish Catholic immigrants were a main focus of discrimination in many ways.
The fight for immigration restriction was fueled by America’s negative view of foreigners. Protestants especially made it a point to link alcohol with Catholic Irish immigrants. They were looked upon as immoral and corrupt because of this. Prohibiting alcohol was an unsuccessful way of trying to counterattack not only the immorality in urban cities, but the immigrants who resided there as well. This was yet another example of searching for an answer to the deterioration of morals and values. In an effort to justify prohibition, it was said that Limitation upon individual freedom in matters affecting society is the price that any people must pay for the progress of its civilization. Personal liberty cannot rightly be claimed for practices which militate against the welfare of others or the interest of the community as a whole.
(http://www.aihs.org.history.htm) The Ku Klux Klan, which was already an established organization increased in number when efforts to prevent and discourage Irish Catholic immigrants from practicing Catholicism were unsuccessful. The Klan considered itself to be Pro-American, which directly meant anti catholic. Established by those which were considered “native born, white, Protestants, the KKK was afraid of ‘encroachments of foreigners,’ especially those who answered to a foreign Pope as their religious authority” (http://www.aihs.org/History/history3.htm). The fear that surrounded this time period was a perfect way to spread the propaganda of the Klan. It was believed that this group of immigrants held their primary allegiance to a foreign sovereign over loyalty to the United States. This anti Catholicism was a driving force behind the popularity of the KKK. To show the mentality of the time, there was no tax on Klan fees because they were considered to be a benevolent society by the government. The fact that the KKK adamantly discriminated against the Irish Catholics may seem surprising because the majority of today’s population would assume that the Klan’s members encompassed any person who appeared to be Caucasian.
This group of immigrants was also discriminated in the...