Everything Is Changing: Contemporary U.S. Movements in Historical Perspective

By Mohammed E. Ahrari | Go to book overview

Introduction

Mohammed E. Ahrari

This book examines the dynamics of ethnic groups' attempts to influence U. S. foreign policy toward their native countries. The interest groups selected for analysis are Arab-Americans, Jewish-Americans, Black-Americans, Polish- Americans, Mexican-Americans, Cuban-Americans, and Irish-Americans. The rationale for selecting these groups is their importance in contemporary politics. Even when a group has not been very active--Irish-Americans, for instance--its activities make an important contribution to our understanding of ethnic group behavior. The rest of the groups included in this book have been quite active, with varying degrees of success in their endeavors to influence U.S. foreign policy.

Historically speaking, ethnic group participation in the United States is not a pervasive and long-standing phenomenon for all ethnic Americans. Irish- Americans, for instance, consistently manifested their hostility toward England by opposing American policies friendly toward that country. German-Americans, on the contrary, played no role in the unification of their homeland under Bismarck in 1870. Jewish-Americans are the ethnic group in the United States with perhaps the strongest political consciousness. This awareness manifests itself in their consistent endeavors to influence American foreign policy toward such issues as the repeal of discriminatory commercial treaties and the treatment of Jews in Europe, even in the early years of the twentieth century. These attempts produced mixed results. But experience thus gained was used by the Jewish groups in persuading both Republican and Democratic parties to adopt Zionist planks in their party platforms during the 1948 presidential campaign. Presidential candidates of both parties, in the words of Paul Seabury, "were forced to outbid each other

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