Racial and Ethnic Discrimination during the 1920's
During the 1920's, racial tensions in American society reached a boiling point. New non-protestant immigrants like Jews and Catholics had been arriving in huge masses from southeast Europe since the beginning of the century. Together, with Orientals, Mexicans, and the African-American population, these minorities suffered at the hands of those concerned with preserving the long established White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (W.A.S.P.) values that were an integral part of American life. Prejudice and racism reared its ugly head in many areas of society, with people showing a tolerance for racist views in the media, literature, and towards organizations like the Ku Klux Klan. Also, the language, living and working conditions, and Government legislations that ethnic minorities were subjected to is further evidence that the Twenties were an openly discriminatory decade. It was also during this period of grave hostility directed at ethnic groups that America's ˜open door' attitude of "give me your tired, your poor ¦ officially became a part of its history.
During the "Roaring Twenties , anti-immigration organizations that had been founded in the 1900's began to receive more support and became increasingly influential following the First World War. The Immigration Restriction League (I.R.L.) was one such group, which claimed to have scientific evidence that the new immigrants from southeast Europe were racially "inferior and therefore posed a threat to the supremacy of the United States. They believed strongly in W.A.S.P. values and certainly did not wish to see them become polluted by other religions from minority groups. This Social-Darwinist belief was not just popular with the masses, but it's appeal spread to people of considerable eminence. For example, the principals of important American universities like Harvard and Stanford were numbered among the I.R.L. supporte