Blue Heron in flight

Friday, May 10, 2013

Bums and bindlestiffs

Senior Policy Analyst Jason Richwine couldn't resign quickly enough for the Heritage Foundation after the recent disclosure of his dissertation study linking hispanics to lower intelligence quotients.

I am reading a fascinating book about the history of transient labor in this country, Mark Wyman's Hoboes, bindlestiffs, fruit tramps and the harvesting of the west. The book takes you from northwest coast hop picking, beating the tracks (riding the rails) to sharecropping, basically a great chronicle of America from the 1880's through the depression. Hobo jungles a mile wide.

I am currently reading a section on the history of the long, love hate relationship between Arizona and Mexican migrants. In 1918 the Republicans took over Congress. Washington's Rep. Albert Johnson called a hearing titled "Temporary admission of illiterate Mexican laborers." Much of the hearing was a discussion of Joint Resolution 271, which basically gave the mexican laborer an open door since they were so necessary to the cotton harvest. Whites refused to work in the stark Salt River Valley conditions and the blacks had moved to the cities.

One of the classic moments from the hearing is when Texas Representative Carlos Bee said that "the Mexican is specially fitted for the burdensome task of bending his back to pick cotton and the burdensome task of grubbing the fields." His cohort and resolution cosponsor Representative Claude B. Hudspeth was not to be outdone; he believed that the Mexicans "...are an inferior race, Mr. Vaile, they are an inferior race of people."

Guess some things never change.

Will publish a lexicon of some of the great new words I have discovered while reading this book.

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