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Today, May 6, is the anniversary of signing of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 into law - the first broad targeting of ethnic group in US immigration law (but not, alas, the last). 1/
The existence of the act itself is fairly well known - it at least merits a mention in most history textbooks.

What tends to be much less well known is the extensive cycle of violence against Chinese immigrants, both before and after the act. 2/
That tends to make the Chinese Exclusion Act seem like an appalling act of nativism but a relatively benign one. And, in reality, it was anything but. 3/
In 1871, for example, a mob in Los Angeles lynched 17 Chinese men and boys and looted and burned Chinese homes and businesses. 4/
And it wasn't just mobs, a number of medical journals carried articles suggesting that the Chinese were bringing incurable diseases to the US that would cause decline of the nation. 5/
Which, if this sounds similar to claims that are being made about immigrants and refugees today, well, it is. 6/
Anti-Chinese sentiment also was strong in a couple of other places where, on the surface, you might not expect it: other immigrants and labor. Indeed, one of the staunchest anti-Chinese advocates was an Irish immigrant named Denis Kearney. 7/
Kearney was a populist firebrand who hated capitalist moguls and hated even more Chinese immigrants - ending every speech with the words, "And whatever happens, the Chinese must go." 8/
The great labor leader Samuel Gompers (himself a Jewish immigrant) opposed Chinese immigration on the grounds that it would lower wages for white workers - albeit without the violent overtones of Denis Kearney. 9/
And to make matters worse, Chinese immigrant communities lacked any political power because, although it was relatively easy to become a naturalized citizen at the time, Congress had barred the Chinese from being eligible for naturalization in 1870. 10/
Anyway, flash forward to 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act passes on a pretty bipartisan basis, at least in the House (it was closer in the Senate). 11/
But, in many ways, it turns out that was just the beginning. Soon after passage of the act concerted efforts began to drive the Chinese out of western states and territories. 12/
In September 1885, for example, a group associated with a local Knights of Labor chapter massacred between 28-50 Chinese miners in Rock Springs, Wyoming. 13/
And in the Washington Territory, delegates to a mass meeting issued a manifesto calling for all Chinese to be driven from the territory by November 1, 1885. 14/
On November 3, 1885, a group of around 500 white residents of Tacoma made good on the manifesto, going door to door to herd Chinese residents to the railway station in the pouring rain, where they were kep overnight. 15/
Those who could afford tickets were allowed to board trains. Those who could not were forced to walk the 140 miles between Tacoma and Portland.

Meanwhile white residents of Tacoma burned down the city’s Chinatown. 16/
Following expulsion of the Chinese from Tacoma, federal authorities indicted 27 leaders of the effort. But if the picture the 27 posed for after the indictments is any indication, they were pretty proud of their effort - and indeed, in the end, no one was tried. 17/
It wouldn't be until 1993 that the city of Tacoma would apologize for the explosion of the Chinese in 1885 and erect a small memorial pavilion near the city's former Chinatown. 18/
But though the violence would die down, the sense that the Chinese were incapable of being American would remain in place much longer. 19/
Indeed, in Justice Harlan's famous dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson talks about how the Chinese were so different as not to be permitted to become citizens (his point being if Chinese could sit on a train why not more civilized African Americans). 20/
The ‘Yellow Peril’ likewise would remain a favorite theme of the press and authors alike for well into the 20th century - some like writer G.G. Rupert seeing a fight with the “Asiatic races” as the final battle before the Second Coming. 21/
Heck, that last tweet isn't even correct. To wit, a Trump Administration official talking just *last month* about China 👇newsweek.com/china-threat-s… 22/
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, I guess. 23/
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