A case in point might be the calls by some to boycott Budweiser beer for it’s 2017 Super Bowl ad which claims to show something of the experiences of Adolphus Busch as an immigrant to the US in the 1850’s. Now, it can be (fairly easily) established the there ARE factual errors in Busch’s personal history leading to the creation of Budweiser as shown in this ad. However, these errors do NOT appear to be what has made this ad controversial, leading to calls to boycott the brand. No, the concerns appear to stem from the idea that Busch faced “anti-immigrant” (specifically, anti-German) bias and prejudice when he came to this country. I would hasten to point out that while there may be a good deal of simplification (perhaps even over-simplification) of the whole story, one thing seems indisputable; there WAS anti-immigrant bias in the US during this period, often focused on immigrants from Germany. This is fairly easy to verify.
In fact, the United States has a long history of anti-immigrant bias, which can be traced to long before there even WAS a United States. One need not be much of an historian to discover that the peoples who apparently got to this continent via the Siberian land bridge (those we now are supposed to refer to as “Native Americans”), were not overly enthralled with the (mostly English) colonists who came to this land beginning about 1620 which led to a variety of “Indian” wars because these “foreigners” were taking away their lands for their own purposes. And, those continued, leading, eventually, to those “natives” being forced onto “reservations” to enforce a sort of separatism so that the “best sort of people” wouldn’t have to deal with the earlier settlers as equals. But I won’t go into the long history of unfairness to those peoples.
Nor, was nationality the only thing involved with this sort of bias. A number of the original British colonies were founded, in large measure, to provide a “homeland” for a variety of religious communities which were fleeing persecution of various types in Britain. That certainly suggests that religion, as well as nationality, has been a part of American anti-immigrant bias. This is what led (eventually) to the First Amendment notion of freedom of religion, although bias against some religions was almost always a part of the prejudice against folks of many nationalities, as well.
No, there has been anti-German, anti-Irish, anti-Italian, anti-Chinese, anti-Japanese, anti-Korean, anti-Vietnamese bias, as well as anti-Catholic, anti-Jewish, and other sorts of bias well before the current anti-Islamic prejudice. It’s perhaps worth noting that, with the exception of our treatment of the so-called “Native” peoples, the only group which has been singled out for “interment” camp treatment was the Japanese-Americans during World War II. Still, it is pretty easy to verify a long history of Americans having a desire to exclude “those other” sorts of people from these shores from the time these shores were settled by Europeans down to the present day. This is why I find it more that slightly self-serving to get up in arms about the portrayal of what must be considered the rather unhappy treatment of folks like Adolphus Busch when he immigrated to this country as unfair. It’s a FACT! It CAN be verified.
Personally, I also find it a bit disturbing that there seem to be a number of Americans who have (apparently) forgotten that the Sixth Amendment forbids a “religious test” to hold any Federal, or State office in the United States. “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” Note: these office holders must swear or affirm that they will support the Constitution, but ONLY the Constitution, and they are NOT obliged to swear “So help me God” as that would constitute a “religious test.”
The Fourteenth Amendment states “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” This establishes the idea that all citizens are required to be given equal protection under the law, including protection against religious discrimination.
In fact, The Treaty of Tripoli (signed Nov. 4, 1796, ratified by the Senate [unanimously] June 7, 1797) stated rather specifically “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen [Muslims]; and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan [Mohammedan] nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.” This would certainly appear to establish that, contrary to some current statements, the US was never intended to be a “Christian” nation. After all, we did say that rather explicitly (see above).
In Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971), the Supreme Court ruled that a law was constitutional if it
1. Had a secular purpose
2. Neither advanced nor inhibited religion
3. Did not foster an excessive government entanglement with religion.
So, in spite of our rather lengthy history, as a people, our Founders would appear to have established the idea rather firmly that: 1.) all people born or naturalized in the United States are equally citizens and subject to the same treatment under the law; 2.) religion is not a factor in citizenship; 3.) the United States was not founded on the Christian religion and bears no enmity against Islam specificly.
Of course, the notion of “naturalization” (a process for becoming a citizen) is clearly implied in the Fourteenth Amendment, as well, and has been provided for in a variety of other laws. That implies that immigrants from other countries are supposed to be welcome to come to these shores for the purpose of becoming citizens and those who are born here (and are subject to US jurisdiction) are citizens. Yes, the Fourteenth Amendment was intended to allow for citizenship for former slaves, but it was not limited to them.
These may be uncomfortable facts, but they appear to be FACTS. It is also a fact that we, as a nation, have not always been completely comfortable with those facts and that one cannot deny that we, as a people, have engaged in prejudicial and biased behavior on nationalistic, ethnic and religious grounds throughout our history. Still, it is a fact (Note: not an “alternative fact” [i.e. a lie]) that this sort of behavior is contrary to our stated beliefs and laws. That is also a fact. To boycott a company, or its products because we don’t wish to acknowledge the truth of that, is to lie to ourselves, which I find not only despicable, but sad.
Anyway, I had a Bud with some food during the game (and I drink VERY little), but, somehow, it seemed appropriate that evening.