Category Archives: Heroes

Frederick Douglass on the Right to Immigrate

In 1869, amid calls to limit Chinese immigration, Frederick Douglass responded with one of his greatest speeches:

Men, like bees, want elbow room. When the hive is overcrowded, the bees will swarm, and will be likely to take up their abode where they find the best prospect for honey. In matters of this sort, men are very much like bees…. The same mighty forces which have swept to our shores the overflowing populations of Europe; which have reduced the people of Ireland three millions below its normal standard; will operate in a similar manner upon the hungry population of China and other parts of Asia. Home has its charms, and native land has its charms, but hunger, oppression, and destitution, will dissolve these charms and send men in search of new countries and new homes….

I have said that the Chinese will come, and have given some reasons why we may expect them in very large numbers in no very distant future. Do you ask, if I favor such immigration, I answer I would….

But are there not reasons against all this? Is there not such a law or principle as that of self-preservation? Does not every race owe something to itself? Should it not attend to the dictates of common sense…? Is there not such a thing as being more generous than wise? In the effort to promote civilization may we not corrupt and destroy what we have? Is it best to take on board more passengers than the ship will carry?

To all of this and more I have one among many answers, altogether satisfactory to me, though I cannot promise that it will be so to you.

I submit that this question of Chinese immigration should be settled upon higher principles than those of a cold and selfish expediency.

There are such things in the world as human rights. They rest upon no conventional foundation, but are external, universal, and indestructible. Among these, is the right of locomotion; the right of migration; the right which belongs to no particular race, but belongs alike to all and to all alike. It is the right you assert by staying here, and your fathers asserted by coming here…. I know of no rights of race superior to the rights of humanity, and when there is a supposed conflict between human and national rights, it is safe to go to the side of humanity. I have great respect for the blue eyed and light haired races of America. They are a mighty people. In any struggle for the good things of this world they need have no fear. They have no need to doubt that they will get their full share.

But I reject the arrogant and scornful theory by which they would limit migratory rights, or any other essential human rights to themselves, and which would make them the owners of this great continent to the exclusion of all other races of men.

I want a home here not only for the negro, the mulatto and the Latin races; but I want the Asiatic to find a home here in the United States, and feel at home here, both for his sake and for ours. Right wrongs no man. If respect is had to majorities, the fact that only one fifth of the population of the globe is white, the other four fifths are colored, ought to have some weight and influence in disposing of this and similar questions. It would be a sad reflection upon the laws of nature and upon the idea of justice, to say nothing of a common Creator, if four fifths of mankind were deprived of the rights of migration to make room for the one fifth….

So much for what is right; now let us see what is wise.

I hold that a liberal and brotherly welcome to all who are likely to come to the United states, is the only wise policy which this nation can adopt….

The apprehension that we shall be swamped or swallowed up by Mongolian civilization… does not seem entitled to much respect. Though they come as the waves come, we shall be stronger if we receive them as friends and give them a reason for loving our country and our institutions. They will find here a deeply rooted, indigenous, growing civilization, augmented by an ever increasing stream of immigration from Europe; and possession is nine points of the law in this case, as well as in others. They will come as strangers, we are at home. They will come to us, not we to them. They will come in their weakness, we shall meet them in our strength. They will come as individuals, we will meet them in multitudes, and with all the advantages of organization. Chinese children are in American schools in San Francisco, none of our children are in Chinese schools, and probably never will be, though in some things they might well teach us valuable lessons. Contact with these yellow children of The Celestial Empire would convince us that the points of human difference, great as they, upon first sight, seem, are as nothing compared with the points of human agreement. Such contact would remove mountains of prejudice….

If it could be shown that any particular race of men are literally incapable of improvement, we might hesitate to welcome them here. But no such men are anywhere to be found, and if there were, it is not likely that they would ever trouble us with their presence. The fact that the Chinese and other nations desire to come and do come, is a proof of their fitness to come….

I close these remarks as I began. If our action shall be in accordance with the principles of justice, liberty, and perfect human equality, no eloquence can adequately portray the greatness and grandeur of the future of the Republic.

We shall spread the network of our science and civilization over all who seek their shelter whether from Asia, Africa, or the Isles of the sea. We shall mold them all, each after his kind, into Americans; Indian and Celt; Negro and Saxon; Latin and Teuton; Mongolian and Caucasian; Jew and Gentile; all shall here bow to the same law, speak the same language, support the same Government, enjoy the same liberty, vibrate with the same national enthusiasm, and seek the same national ends.

Frederick Douglass, 1869.

Communing with Julian Tuwim

I recently spent a couple of days in Łódź (which due to the oddities of Polish orthography is pronounced woodge, hence, as seat of the Polish film industry, Holly-Łódź), mostly to commune with the memory of Julian Tuwim. Tuwim is a major figure in Polish literature, a poet, songwriter, and author whose songs and children’s poems are still widely known and performed, but I came across him because of one piece that  – not accidentally – was left out of the official five-volume edition of his collected works.

It was an impassioned essay called, “We, Polish Jews,” published in 1944 on the first anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, in a Polish-language newspaper in New York, where Tuwim was living in exile. (He described the city to a friend as “Łódź, but with elephantiasis.”) It was dedicated, “To my mother in Poland or her most beloved shade.” His mother had been shot in August 1942 during the extermination of the Otwock Ghetto, though I’m not clear whether he knew that when he wrote.

I ran across Tuwim’s essay while traveling in Israel/Palestine, and have run across it a couple of times since. The section that caught my attention, and that tends to get quoted is about his Jewish identity. He wrote that he was a Jew because of “blood” – not, he immediately added, in the sense of race, but “Exactly the opposite.” As he explained:

“There are two kinds of blood: blood in the veins and blood from the veins. The first is a bodily fluid; therefore its study is properly the province of the physiologists. Whoever ascribes to this blood any special attributes and mysterious powers other than its organic ones in consequence, as we are now seeing, turns cities into ruins, slaughters millions of people, and ultimately, as we shall see, will bring down slaughter upon his own tribe.”

The other kind of blood was what the Nazis were spilling, “not blood concealed in the arteries but blood on display.” And, he wrote, it was that blood, “the blood of the Jews (not ‘Jewish blood’),” that made him write as a Jew.

I’ve found myself repeating that formulation in various conversations, because I am working on a project on immigration, nationalism and borders, and didn’t want to write simply as a white American defending the rights of people from the southern hemisphere. My mother was a refugee from Nazi Vienna, my father’s parents were immigrants from Central Europe. I grew up on those stories, and I’m tracing them now, which means I’m thinking a lot about my own family history, and about the history of Jews in Central Europe – and the diaspora from Central Europe – and about the question of what it means if I say I am Jewish, and what it means if someone else says that.

Re-reading Tuwim’s essay, I’m struck by my original focus on the part about being Jewish, and the extent to which other writers have highlighted the same sections and phrases. Because that is not how Tuwim starts his piece. He begins by addressing the question of why he claims the pronoun “WE” for both Jews and Poles, writing, “Jews, whom I have always assured that I am a Pole, ask it of me; and now Poles, for the majority of whom I am and will remain a Jew, will ask it of me.” And, he wrote, “Here is my answer for all of them:

“I am a Pole because that’s how I like it. This is my completely private affair which I have no intention of explaining, clarifying, demonstrating or justifying to anyone. I do not divide Poles into ‘pure’ or ‘not pure,’ but leave that to the pure racists, to native and not native Hitlerites. I divide Poles, just as I do Jews and other peoples, into wise and stupid, polite and nasty, intelligent and dull, interesting and boring, injured and injuring, gentlemen and not gentlemen…”

But, in fact, he does explain and clarify. He first notes that “to be a Pole…is neither an honor, nor a glory, nor a privilege. It is like breathing. I have not yet met a man who is proud that he breathes.” That said, it is his identity:

“A Pole—because I was born, grew up, matured and was educated in Poland; because in Poland I was happy and unhappy; because I want ultimately to return to Poland from exile even though heavenly delights were to be guaranteed me elsewhere….

“A Pole—because that is what I was called in Polish in my parents’ home; because from infancy I was nourished there on the Polish language; because my mother taught me Polish poetry and songs…; because that which became most important in my life—poetic creation—is unthinkable in any other language, no matter how fluently I might speak it….

“A Pole—because I have adopted from the Poles a certain number of their national vices. A Pole—because my hatred for Polish fascists is greater than for fascists of any other nationality. And I consider that a very important feature of my Polishness.

“But above all else… a Pole because that’s what I like to be.”

When Tuwim’s essay first appeared, it got a lot of attention and was translated into numerous languages. Not all the attention was positive; in Palestine, Zionist critics took him to task for declaring his Jewish allegiance only now, under pressure, after decades of writing as a Pole. He had never denied his Jewish ancestry and indeed had regularly made reference to it and written poems attacking antisemitism. But he had also written poems satirizing traditional Jews: “Dark, cunning, bearded/ With demented eyes/ In which there is an eternal fear… People/ Who do not know what a fatherland is/Because they have lived everywhere.”  (You can find this and other poems in an article published by the American Association for Polish Jewish studies.)

Today that criticism is often reversed, and Tuwim is taken to task for his naiveté about Poland—his passionate essay concludes with the prophesy that yellow stars will be adopted by the postwar Polish state as the highest badge of honor, pinned on the chests of military heroes, and that was not how things turned out. Poland would continue to be swept by waves of antisemitism, and in the years between the arrival of the Communist government and his death in 1953 Tuwim wrote very little and by some accounts was deeply depressed. But he lived those years in Poland and never seems to have considered leaving, and one of the main streets in the center of Łódź is called Tuwima, and his statue is on the city’s main pedestrian thoroughfare.

I’m not saying that’s a happy ending. It’s messy and complicated.

But some of the complications and messiness feel very familiar to me. As those of you who follow my Songobiography know, I have spent my life playing the folk and popular music of the United States. I’ve hitchhiked through all 48 contiguous states, and know the country well. It is my home and I feel very much part of it, for good and bad, better and worse. When a friend who has been active in the Polish klezmer revival (and who is not Jewish) asked if I ever played or wrote about Jewish music, my response was, “Well… I’ve written a book about Bob Dylan.” Who is, I would note, the patron saint of what is now called Americana music. Take that however you choose.

I was recently in Frankfurt, going through an exhibit on possessions looted or otherwise acquired by local gentiles and institutions—including the museum holding the exhibition—from local Jews who were deported or exterminated, and I was struck by a descriptive panel early in the exhibition which referred to “religious Jews and those first turned into Jews by the Nazis.”

I had never before seen that framing of identity, but it immediately struck home, because that was essentially my mother’s story. Her parents were Viennese socialists who dismissed religion as medieval superstition. I am not going to call them “assimilated,” because that word suggests they were somehow less Viennese than their socialist, atheist friends whose ancestors were Catholic. It is like the suggestion that someone in the United States who has one African and seven European great-grandparents is “passing” if she says she is European. It is letting the racists set the terms, and I won’t do that. I cannot deny the power or harm of the racist taxonomies, but I can point out that they are racist and refuse to use them.

My father grew up in Brooklyn, and was far more affected by antisemitism than my mother, the refugee from Nazi Vienna. For her, the racists were the Nazis. For him, they were the kids on his block. And, to make it messier, those kids weren’t unhyphenated Americans. They were all from families of recent immigrants, and when he went off to Washington Square College, he described the student body as “Jewish, Italian, Latin American, Greek, almost all Mediterraneans of one kind or another—and an occasional Christian blond, whom we tended to think of and speak of as the ‘white men’.”

Meanwhile, my mother grew up thoroughly Viennese, daughter of two physicians, one of whom was also a concert-quality pianist, immersed in Mozart, Goethe, the earthy Viennese street dialect, and the certainty that she was at the cultural center of the universe. Her childhood foods weren’t latkes and gefilte fish; they were schnitzel, Kaiserschmarrn, and pastries slathered in whipped cream. When the Nazis labeled her a Jew, that changed the course of her life but didn’t change how she thought about herself. She felt rejected by Vienna and often referred to herself not as Viennese but as European, but her views remained thoroughly Viennese, and socialist, and atheist.

When I graduated high school, one of my college applications had a line asking my religion. Being less sure than my mother, I wrote “agnostic.” That was fine with her, but not with my father. He said, “That’s not what they’re asking,” and told the story of applying to the Brooklyn Athletic Club, responding to the question of religion by saying “atheist,” and having the young man behind the desk smirk and write, “Jew.”

So I’m here communing with the ghost of Julian Tuwim, who insisted he was Polish because he liked to be, and Jewish because Hitler was killing millions of Jews. That formulation bothers me, and makes sense to me. It’s not my formulation, and I have problems with a lot of what Tuwim wrote, both politically and aesthetically. But that essay suggested some different ways of framing these subjects, made me wrestle with some new questions, and helped me clarify my own thinking.

It also led me to study Tuwim’s life and work, which among other things suggested what his response would be to my disagreements: one of his most famous compositions is titled “A Poem Wherein the Author Politely but Firmly Requests a Multitude of Fellows to Kiss His Ass.” (There is a nice modern cabaret version — and yes, the list of “fellows,” includes both antisemites and Jews.)

And lastly… in case there aren’t already enough ironic notes in this story… the Lonely Planet guidebook to Poland cheerfully reports that there is a local custom of rubbing the nose of Tuvim’s statue for luck. The Jew’s nose.

Remembering Eqbal Ahmad

April 20, 2018:

As I watch tens of thousands of Palestinians mass along the militarized zone separating Gaza from Israel, I keep thinking of my friend Eqbal Ahmad. Edward Said described Eqbal as “a man of enormous personal charisma, incorruptible ideals, unfailing generosity and sympathy towards others” — to all of which I can testify — as well as “perhaps the shrewdest and most original anti-imperialist analyst of the post-war world.”1

Though Eqbal was Pakistani, he had been a leading fighter in the Algerian rebellion against France, and the story I’m thinking of took place in 1968. The PLO had just surfaced as a military force and Eqbal was asked to keynote a meeting in the US for an audience of Arab students and activists excited at the prospect of an armed confrontation with the state of Israel. Eqbal spoke as a hardened revolutionary fighter, but not in the way his listeners expected:

After seeing what I saw in Algeria, I couldn’t romanticize armed struggle. The costs to the people of Algeria were very high. OK, they agreed to pay the cost, but it was high. Also, I knew what many people would not recognize even today, which is that the Algerians lost the war militarily, but won it politically. They were successful in isolating France morally. So the primary task of revolutionary struggle is to achieve the moral isolation of the adversary in his own eyes and in the eyes of the world.

I argued that a successful armed struggle proceeds to out-administer the adversary and not out-fight him. And that the task of out-administration was a task of out-legitimizing the enemy. Finally, I argued that this out-administration occurs when you identify the primary contradiction of your adversary and expose that contradiction…. Israel’s fundamental contradiction was that it was founded as a symbol of the suffering of humanity… at the expense of another people who were innocent of guilt. It’s this contradiction that you have to bring out. And you don’t bring it out by armed struggle. In fact, you suppress this contradiction by armed struggle. The Israeli Zionist organizations continue to portray the Jews as victims of Arab violence….

I said, “This is a moment to fit ships in Cyprus, fit boats in Lebanon and say, ‘We’re not going to destroy Israel. That is not our intent. We just want to go home.’ Reverse the symbols of Exodus. See if the Israelis are in a mood to sink some ships. They probably will. Let them do so. Some of us will die. Let us die….” 2

Said, who met Eqbal at that event, was impressed, arranged for Eqbal to make this proposal to the leaders of the PLO and forever recalled it as a missed opportunity. Maybe now, fifty years later, some version of this plan is coming to fruition.

I encourage everyone to check out Eqbal’s writing and speeches on other sites, in books, and on video. Meanwhile, here are a few personal stories:

I’m pretty sure I first met Eqbal in Woods Hole, when he came to talk about his arrest and upcoming trial as a member of the Harrisburg 7, one of the famous conspiracy trials of the Vietnam War era. His fellow defendants were all Catholic clergy, including Phillip Berrigan, and Eqbal often told how his mother called him when she heard the news, saying: “I can understand you being against the Vietnam war. I can even understand you being arrested for this. But what are you doing  being arrested with a group of priests and nuns?!”

After that meeting, Eqbal and his wife Julie were fairly frequent visitors, along with their baby daughter Dora. But the evening I remember best he came alone, fresh off a plane from Europe. The in-flight movie had been The Man Would Be King, and Eqbal was bubbling with enthusiasm: “It was wonderful, a great, old-fashioned action movie — fascist, of course, but wonderful!”

There was wine with dinner, and Eqbal had a few glasses and soon was telling stories of his youth — that was the only time I heard him talk about seeing his father killed when he was a small boy, hiding behind his father’s legs as the killers attacked, and about fighting in Kashmir. My parents eventually drifted off to bed, but I stayed up, sixteen years old and enthralled. He talked about his student days in Paris, meeting young revolutionaries from around the world.  He was particularly struck by the Algerian students who were going home to fight with the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) against French colonialism. He decided he had to get involved, went to Tunis, where he had been given an address on a back street, knocked, and the door was answered by a slim black man who spoke French with a Caribbean accent — Frantz Fanon. The stories went on and on and I remember very little beyond the pleasure of sitting late into the night, listening…

…and then there was his food. Eqbal was an astonishing cook — my understanding is that he was arrested with the Catholic leftists because they had gathered for one of his famous meals — and he appreciated my appreciation of his talents. I remember one evening at his apartment on the edge of Harlem when he invited me to dinner and spent the whole evening whispering apologies because a dear friend had arrived in town unexpectedly and was an observant Hindu, so the planned feast had to be sidelined for a vegetarian substitute — still delicious, and I was mostly there for the company, but Eqbal was inconsolable.

There are other stories, but at the moment I keep coming back to that image of Exodus. Partly because I watched the movie in preparation for my trip to Israel/Palestine and recently wrote about the inescapable parallels between Jewish immigrants fighting to enter Palestine and current Palestinians facing Israeli troops at the Gaza fence. Partly because the proliferating images of blonde, blue-eyed Ahed Tamimi as an image of Palestinian resistance recall the choice of Paul Newman to represent the archetypal Israeli fighter. And partly because I remember Eqbal’s enthusiasm for The Man Who Would Be King, and now realize his delight in a good action film was not an apolitical quirk, but on the contrary was integral to his sense of how popular images could be harnessed and redirected to effect change.

I saw Eqbal more rarely in later years. He founded a university in Pakistan and was there much of the time, while I was touring as a musician and writing for the Boston Globe, so one way and another our paths didn’t cross. Our last meeting was at his retirement from Hampshire College, where he had taught for some years. Edward Said and Howard Zinn were there, among many others, and I spoke briefly about Eqbal’s cooking. At the party afterwards he asked me to come to Pakistan and work with him, and I’ll always wonder if he was serious about that, and how my life might have been different if he was and I’d gone.

 

Mary Antin: Idealist of Immigration

“What terms of entry may we impose on the immigrant without infringing on his inalienable rights, as defined in our national charter?” Mary Antin asked in 1914. Her answer:

Just such as we would impose on our own citizens if they proposed to move about the country in companies numbering thousands, with their families and portable belongings…. Whatever limits to our personal liberty we are ourselves willing to endure for the sake of the public welfare, we have a right to impose on the stranger from abroad; these, and no others.

Antin had become a best-selling author two years earlier with The Promised Land, a memoir of her migration to the United States from the Russian Pale of Settlement (the region to which Jews were restricted) in the 1890s. Written on the prompting of Josephine Lazarus — sister of Emma Lazarus, the poet who wrote the poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty — it is a charming book, exploring the experience of immigration and the way her understanding of the world shifted as her circumstances changed:

When I was a little girl, the world was divided into two parts; namely, Polotzk, the place where I lived, and a strange land called Russia. All the little girls I knew lived in Polotzk, with their fathers and mothers and friends. Russia was the place where one’s father went on business. It was so far off, and so many bad things happened there, that one’s mother and grandmother and grown-up aunts cried at the railroad station…

I learned, as I grew older, that much as Polotzk disliked to go to Russia, even more did Russia object to letting Polotzk come. People from Polotzk were sometimes turned back before they had finished their business, and often they were cruelly treated on the way…

Antin’s father often went away to Russia, and she writes that when he emigrated to the United States the word “America” meant little more to her than “Odessa.” She was ten years old when he left, and it was three more years before he could earn the money to bring his wife and daughters. Their journey through Russia and Germany gave Antin a sense of the bureaucratic traps and barriers faced by poor travelers, and her experience in the Boston public schools opened up a new world of possibilities. She had her first story published in English less than a year after arriving and her first book, From Plotzk to Boston,  in 1899, when she was eighteen.

Antin was an ardent believer in the ideals exemplified by Lazarus’s poem and The Declaration of Independence,  and as an activist for women’s education and immigrant rights she fought to make her fellow citizens live up to them. When her memoir became a best-seller, she followed with a book-length polemic: They Who Knock at Our Gates: A Complete Gospel of Immigration.

Antin began this book by asking “a question of principle”: “Have we any right to regulate immigration?” Her response was that it was meaningful simply to ask that question, and that the answer should not be taken for granted. She then got down to particulars, concluding that some limits make sense for reasons of public health or safety, but only the sort that could equitably be placed on the movement of US citizens within the country:

Has, then, the newest arrival the same rights as the established citizen? According to the Declaration, yes; the same right to live, to move, to try his luck. More than this he does not claim at the gate of entrance; with less than this we are not authorized to put him off.

I have rarely heard that idea expressed in recent years, but in 1914 it was still relatively common. The concepts of rights and controls based on citizenship and solid nation-state borders were still in their infancy, and modern readers will find her next passage surprising:

We do not question the right of an individual foreigner to enter our country on any peaceable errand; why, then, question the rights of a shipload of foreigners? Lumping a thousand men together under the title of immigrants does not deprive them of their humanity and the rights inherent in humanity; or can it be demonstrated that the sum of the rights of a million men is less than the rights of one individual?

Before World War I, people routinely crossed national and imperial borders without identification documents — hence all the stories of family names that were changed in the process. The crossings could be fraught: Antin’s family was stopped at the Russian-German border by an official who insisted they would have to upgrade their transatlantic ship tickets or pay a heavy indemnity, and it took a long day’s finagling before they made it through. But the modern world of passports and national identities was still being formed, and Antin was fighting not only to prevent the imposition of new limitations but the normalization of new ideas we now take for granted.

She had some notable blind spots: while staunchly defending the rights and virtues of Jews, Italians, Hungarians, and Greeks, she seemed unaware that Asians had been barred from entering the US either en masse or individually since 1882. She wrote a few passages about race that still resonate:

Some people see no indication of the future in the fact that race-blending has been going on here from the beginning of our history, because the elements we now get are said to differ from us more radically than the elements we assimilated in the past. To allay our anxiety on this point, we have only to remind ourselves that none of the great nations of Europe that present such a homogeneous front to-day arose from a single stock…

But what Antin meant by “different races” was the varied European stocks, with perhaps some leavening from the Middle East — none of her books mentions African Americans, and a contemporary reviewer in the African Methodist Episcopal Church Review described her memoir as “a paean of triumph not only of Mary Antin, but of the many other millions (provided they be not black) who have poured into the country from its foundation.”1

Antin did take note of the continent’s original inhabitants, writing that Anglo-American descendants of early settlers cannot “lay claim to the land on the ground of priority of occupation, as long as there is a red man left on the Indian reservations. If it comes to calling names, usurper is an uglier name than alien…” But that passage was directed at white nativists, and the Indians appeared only momentarily as a rhetorical flourish.

Antin was writing from a particular experience, in a particular time, and her limitations reinforce her central argument: Americans have never lived up to the ideals of universal equality or “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” but those phrases have nonetheless inspired generations of people around the world to try to make them a reality. Though they were written by a slaveholder who was not thinking of women when he wrote “men,” Antin was insisting they applied to her, and we can similarly assert the relevance of her arguments today. Her books are available on-line, as are tidbits like a newspaper article quoting her upbraiding immigrant bosses for forgetting their roots and mistreating striking garment workers.

And, sad to say, much of what Antin wrote over a hundred years ago remains very relevant. When I hear anti-immigrant politicians argue that newcomers will take jobs away from American workers, and pro-immigrant politicians counter that we need immigrants “to do jobs Americans won’t do,” I recall another passage from They Who Knock at Our Gates:

Those who, like the labor-union lobbyists, point to the empty dinner-pails of American workingmen as a reason for keeping out foreign labor, are no more at fault than the lobbyists of the opposite side, who offer in support of the open-door policy statistics showing the need of rough laborers in various branches of our current material development. All of them are wrong in that they would treat our foreign brothers as pawns on the chessboard of our selfish needs.

Antin was an idealist, and if her prose was sometimes stilted, I still find her writing a valuable tonic. When she called the United States  her “Promised Land,” she did not excuse its failings, but neither would she relinquish that promise:

Show me a million American workingmen out of work, and I fail to see a justification for the exclusion of a million men from other lands who are also looking for a job…. Those who are teaching the American workingman to demand the protection of his job against legitimate alien competition are trampling out the embers of popular idealism, instead of fanning it into a blaze that should transfigure the life of the nation.