During this week of the 92nd Anniversary of the execution of Sacco & Vanzetti, which is August 23rd, Donald Trump continued to spread the kind of racist, xenophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic hateful speech that resulted in two Italian immigrants being sent to the electric chair in the US in 1927.
Hard-working Italian immigrants Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were executed not because the evidence against them in a murder case was clear beyond a reasonable doubt, but because their ethnicity was. At least that’s why Trump’s father, Fred, participated in and was arrested at an anti-immigrant KKK rally in Queens, NY, just three months before Sacco & Vanzetti were killed. Fred Trump and his KKK cronies wanted immigrant blood, and they got it — similar to how his son, Donald, whose own xenophobia & White Supremacy has inflamed his followers, reaped the deadly consequences of what his hate speech has sown with the slaughter of innocent Jews in their Pittsburg, Pennsylvania synagogue last year, and of Mexican Americans last month in El Paso, Texas.
The KKK rally in 1927 at which Trump’s father was arrested was not only anti-immigrant: it was anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic, anti-Black and anti-Italian. Three years earlier those same KKK friends of Fred Trump’s, prevailed on Congress to pass the most racist, anti-Semitic immigration law in American history, the Immigration Act of 1924. The law, which serves as Trump aide Stephen Miller’s bible for discriminatory actions against immigrants, was one of the models for Hitler’s Nuremberg Laws against the Jews, along with apartheid-like Jim Crow laws from 30 Southern states. The use of these American racial hate laws, drafted by KKK supporters in Congress and State Legislatures around the country, greatly influenced Hitler and the Nazi attorneys who crafted the Nuremberg Laws against the Jews, as described in precise detail in Princeton Professor James Q. Whitman’s brilliant book, Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law (Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 2017). In fact, Whitman writes that once Hitler saw what a “democracy” like the United States was willing to do against racial minorities, he took it as a greenlight to move against the Jews.
History teaches us that the unjust execution of Sacco & Vanzetti is by no means the first, nor the most catastrophic example of the consequences of the hatred of “the other”, as the slaughter of 6 million Jews by the Nazis reminds us. It is not even the most egregious example of the hateful, fatal consequences of xenophobia concerning Italians.
That event happened 36 years earlier than Sacco & Vanzetti’s deaths, in 1891, in New Orleans, Louisiana, when 11 innocent Italian Immigrants — acquitted by a jury in a dramatic murder case — were ripped from a jail by a maniacal mob of 20,000 White Nationalists (the actual name of the group was the White Nationalists League), shot and hung in one of the single largest mass lynchings in American History. The White Nationalist League was incited to riot by the elected Mayor of New Orleans, Mayor Shakespeare, in a manner much like Donald Trump has incited and inspired his White Supremacists followers around the nation to commit acts of domestic terrorism against Mexicans, immigrants, African Americans and Jews.
The White Nationalist League, which took credit for the lynchings of the 11 innocent Italian immigrants, was also responsible for erecting the pro-segregationist, pro-Confederacy statues throughout New Orleans, which the current Mayor has wisely decided to dismantle. Trump’s defense of those symbols of racial oppression — particularly in Charlottesville, Virginia, before and after a White Nationalist/Nazi rally resulted in the intentional murder of a young woman, by a White Supremacist who ran her down with his car, is further evidence of Fred Trump’s son’s abject ignorance of the life & death dangers of spreading such vicious hate.
In acknowledging the terrible, bloody consequences of xenophobia on the 92th Anniversary of the deaths of Sacco & Vanzetti, we can also honor the memories of the 11 Italian immigrants murdered by the White Nationalists of their time, in New Orleans, in 1891. The names of those innocents, who came to America to seek a better life for their families, are: Pietro Monastero, Joseph Macheca, Antonio Marchesi, Antonio Scaffidi, Emmanuele Polizzi, Antonio Bagnetto, James Caruso, Rocco Geraci, Frank Romero, Loretto Comitz and Charles Traina.
They are not as well known as Sacco & Vanzetti, but they are the victims of a hate crime committed by White Nationalists — 20,000 of whom were incited to riot & murder by a high-ranking elected official. Twenty thousand White Nationalists brought to a murdering frenzy by a demagogue preaching hate & violence against others.
Pause a moment to honor the deaths of innocent immigrants on this 92nd Anniversary of the execution of Sacco & Vanzetti; reflect upon one of the largest mass lynchings in American history, carried out by an armed, inflamed, hate-filled mob of 20,000 , against humans beings, whose only crime was being different. Than, ask yourself, how far have we come over the past 92 years, in welcoming diversity of race, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexuality, as much as Americans have embraced hate, guns and the fear of others?