Which group did Nativists specifically target as threats to “American Culture”?1

Updated 14 August, 2023
Nativists specifically targeted immigrants, especially those from non-Protestant European countries, such as Catholics and Jews, as threats to "American Culture." They feared these newcomers would not assimilate, maintaining their languages, customs, and religions, thus undermining the predominantly Protestant and English-speaking cultural fabric of the United States. This sentiment led to discriminatory practices like immigration restrictions and quotas, as seen in the Immigration Act of 1924, which aimed to preserve what nativists considered traditional American values and the "Anglo-Saxon heritage." Economic competition for jobs also fueled anti-immigrant attitudes.
Detailed answer:

Nativism is a political and social ideology that promotes the interests of the native population of a country over those of immigrants. In the context of the United States, nativists have historically targeted immigrants as threats to what they perceived as "American culture." This sentiment was particularly prominent during waves of immigration in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The primary group that nativists targeted as threats to "American culture" were immigrants from non-Protestant European countries, particularly Catholic and Jewish immigrants. Nativists often held the belief that these immigrants would not assimilate into American society, posing a challenge to the predominantly Protestant and English-speaking culture that was seen as the core of American identity. They were concerned that these newcomers would maintain their own languages, customs, and religious practices, leading to a fragmentation of the perceived cultural unity.
The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw significant immigration from Southern and Eastern European countries such as Italy, Poland, Russia, and the Balkan states. This influx of diverse cultures raised nativist concerns about the preservation of the "Anglo-Saxon heritage" and the fear that the new arrivals would dilute American values.
Nativist sentiments often resulted in discriminatory practices, such as immigration restrictions and quotas. The Immigration Act of 1924, for example, established strict quotas based on nationality, effectively limiting immigration from Southern and Eastern European countries while favoring immigrants from Northern and Western Europe. These policies were driven by the desire to preserve what nativists considered the traditional American way of life.
It's essential to note that nativist attitudes were not limited to religious or cultural differences. Economic factors also played a role, as nativists sometimes viewed immigrants as competitors for jobs, which further fueled anti-immigrant sentiment.
While nativism's prominence has waxed and waned over the years, it has left a lasting impact on immigration policies and public discourse in the United States. Understanding this history is crucial for comprehending the challenges and debates surrounding immigration and multiculturalism in modern-day America.

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