It was a fine address which James Marshall delivered the other day before new and prospective American citizens in New York. It contained advice to the new citizens as well as a word to “older Americans.”
Mr. Marshall frankly emphasized that among some of the “older Americans,” feeling against aliens is growing despite the fact that such feeling is contrary to the interests of America as a unified nation. He deplored this attitude of prejudice against minority groups. The best way to cement unity in a nation is not by suppressing the minority groups within this nation, he said, but by developing a feeling of respect for one another.
THE IMMIGRANT’S CONTRIBUTION
The view expressed by Mr. Marshall will no doubt be shared by every liberal person in America. It reflects the opinion not only of the Jews but of all fair minded elements in the country.
There are few in America who would deny that Jewish immigrants as well as other national minorities in this country have greatly contributed to the economic and cultural development of the United States. This was emphasized only a few days ago by Mr. Byrns, Speaker of the House of Representatives, in an address which he delivered in Washington. It has been emphasized many a time also by different Presidents of the United States.
FOSTERING ANTI-ALIEN FEELINGS
Nevertheless, there are elements in this country that are trying to capitalize on the prejudice which they can stir up against national minority groups. Some of these elements are frank in admitting that they work under the direct influence of Germany, but others naively believe that thy are acting in good patriotic faith by fostering anti-alien feeling.
It is to the latter that the anti-immigration forces in this country belong. It is among this group that Congressmen are found who demand the complete cessation of immigration.
BILLS IN CONGRESS
There are now before Congress a number of immigration bills intended to work great hardship on aliens as a result of the growing anti-alien propaganda. Some of the bills demand cutting the present already limited immigration quota to sixty per cent. Others suggest cutting it to forty per cent. There are extremists who even go so far as to demand the complete closing of American doors to aliens for at least ten years.
The Congressmen introducing such bills forget about the role immigrants have played in the development of the United States. Not only are they against the admission of new aliens into our country, but they are even doing their best to make it difficult for those already in the country to become American citizens.
NATIONALISM AND TOLERANCE
It is to these Congressmen that James Marshall appealed in his address here the other day. It is to the Americans who forget that anti-alien feeling is an un-American feeling that Mr. Marshall directed his plea. These “older Americans” were told by Mr. Marshall to remember that America is a cultural extension of Europe and the creation of a unified nation here would greatly suffer if the social and cultural backgrounds of all types of Americansâ€”of old as well as of recent stockâ€”were merged.
The views of Mr. Marshall were fully substantiated by D. W. MacCormack, Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization. Addressing the same gathering, Commissioner MacCormack spoke of the spirit of nationalism which is too strong in America and appealed for a more tolerant attitude. This appeal is no doubt very timely considering that the anti-alien forces are now mobilizing in Congress for a campaign to have Congress pass all the anti-immigration bills before the present session closes.