The Immigrants and their Descendents from the Great Immigration , 1880 to 1917 8-11-16

The Immigrants and their Descendants from the Great Immigration, 1880-to 1917


Richard J. Garfunkel

I am constantly amazed at the virulence of the “new” ethnic-based Eurocentrics. I can almost understand the Southern Baptists and the States’ Rights advocates who are descended most directly from the earliest white settlers; English, Scottish, Welsh, Dutch and German Protestants, who were enamored with the white man’s burden and learned of that supremacist tradition at their mother’s knee and in the churches. It existed all over the English-dominated World from India to the American colonies, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Burma, the Middle East, Singapore and Micronesia. The Raj ruled with an idea and rationale of moral, racial and intellectual superiority.  That is what they knew and believed. They saw the culture and habits of Native peoples, and on one hand, despised, feared and looked down upon them, and on the other hand, ruled by “divide and conquer.” That existed certainly in India until 1947 and here until 1776.  They learned from their defeat here!

But, what of the later immigrants? First in the late 1840’s, were the next wave of Germans, who were quite often Catholics, escaping from revolutionary Europe and the policy of “Kultur Kampft” (culture’s struggle) under Bismarck and then the Irish Catholics escaping the potato famine and the oppressive British rule. The Germans were used to conservatism and many became the backbone of the new Midwestern Republicanism. Culturally they were used to a strong, male-dominated family and thus supported a strong central government. They were hard working and felt comfortable with other citizens of British and Dutch orientation. Also, the country had many Germans (Lutherans) living here from the time of the Revolution, when many had come here as soldiers for hire, or mercenaries (the Hessians from Hesse-Cassel, and others from outside the most militarized state in Europe)). As for the Irish, they hated the British and became the immigrant heart of the Eastern Cities and gravitated to the Democratic Party and eventually took over Tammany Hall in NYC and virtually reinvented politics in America.

What amazes me is that many of the grandchildren of the last great European immigration from Eastern and Southern European immigrants have forgotten their roots. The heart of these people, who are mostly Catholic, along with some Jews, were helped and assisted by the Democrats from Wilson to FDR, Truman, JFK, LBJ and beyond, are now the “New” Republicans.  They forgot the Wagner Act, which allowed unions to collectively bargain, they have ignored the efforts of the Democrats and the unions to end discrimination regarding housing, education, and the work place, where their grandfathers and fathers couldn’t get a job in a Fortune 500 company, a law firm, or practice in a hospital. They have ignored the efforts of the liberals who opened the doors of education for them and for their daughters. Who supported Social Security, Medicare, the Minimum Wage, anti-discrimination in the work place, the fight for equal pay for equal work, Choice, and women’s healthcare, Ttile ( and hundreds of other benefits that helped the children of immigrants? They have ignored the age-old efforts of the Democratic Party in opposing the exclusion of these people from all of our “closed” institutions. This history has been chronicled in 10’s of thousands of books and millions of articles. But, how often do I read from some of these same people that the Democrats keep the poor in economic shackles. How short are their memories! Isn’t ironic, that the South, which was the home of home of Southern-based, Jefferson branch of the Democratic Party, which supported slavery and sustained Jim Crow is now the new home of the most conservative Republicans and the reddest states in the Union.  Many of these people seemed to have forgotten discrimination and bigotry and where it has stemmed from.  What happened? Do these children of immigrants now think that it is their turn to be the next generation of bigots and haters who believe in Social Darwinism, “the end justifies the means,” and “divide and conquer?” it is a sorry state of affairs when they forget the remarks of George Santayana, who sagely wrote, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” 


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A lifelong New Yorker, who now lives full-time in Palm Beach County, Richard was raised in Mount Vernon, New York and he was educated in the Mount Vernon public schools He graduated from Boston University with a BA in American History. After spending a year on Wall Street as a research analyst with Bache & Co., he joined a manufacturing and importing firm, where over the next twenty-five years he rose to the position of chief operating officer. After the sale of that business, Richard entered into the financial services field with Metropolitan Life and is a Registered Representative, who has been associated with Acorn Financial Services which is affiliated with John Hancock Life Insurance Company of Boston, Ma. Today, he is a retired broker who had specialized in long-term care insurance and financial planning. One of Richard’s recent activities was to advise and encourage communities to seek ways to incorporate “sustainability and resiliency” into their future infrastructure planning. After a lifetime in politics, with many years working as a district leader, which involved party organizational work, campaign chair activity and numerous other political tasks, Richard has been involved with numerous civic and social causes. In recent years, Richard served in 2005 as the campaign coordinator of the Re-Elect Paul Feiner Campaign in Greenburgh, NY and he again chaired Supervisor Feiner’s successful landslide victory in 2007. Over the next few years, he advised a number of political candidates. He has served as an appointed Deputy Supervisor of the Town of Greenburgh, with responsibilities regarding the town’s “liaison program.” He was a member of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board of the Town of Greenburgh, NY. Richard has lectured on FDR, The New Deal and 20th century American history in the Mount Vernon schools, at the Westchester Council of Social Studies annual conference in White Plains, and at many senior citizen groups, which include appearances at the Old Guard of White Plains, the Rotary Clubs of Elmsford and White Plains, and various synagogue groups around Westchester. In the winter of 2006 Richard was the leader of the VOCAL forum, sponsored by the Westchester County Office of Aging, which addresses the concerns of Westchester County’s Intergenerational Advocacy Educational Speak-out forums for senior citizens. Richard has given lectures for the Active Retirement Project, which is co-sponsored by the Jewish Community Center on the Hudson, the Greenburgh Hebrew Center, and other groups around Westchester County. Richard also is the founder and Chairperson of the Jon Breen Memorial Fund, that judges and grants annual prizes to students at Mount Vernon High School who submit essays on public policy themes. He also sponsors the Henry M. Littlefield History Prize for the leading MVHS history student. Richard serves on the Student College Scholarship Committee of Mount Vernon High School. In past years Richard chaired and moderated the Jon Breen Fund Award’s cablecast program with the Mayor and local and school officials. Richard has been a member of Blythedale Children’s Hospital’s Planned Giving Professional Advisory Board, and was a founding member of the committee to re-new the FDR Birthday Balls of the 1930’s and 1940’s with the March of Dimes’ effort to eliminate birth defects. Their renewal dinner was held at Hyde Park on January 30, 2003. Richard is currently an active contributor to the Roosevelt Institute, which is involved in many pursuits which included the opening of the Henry A. Wallace Center at Hyde Park, and the Eleanor Roosevelt – Val-Kill Foundation. In 2007, he proposed to the City of Mount Vernon an effort to develop an arts, educational, and cultural center as part of a downtown re-development effort. Richard was a team partner with the Infrastructure & Energy Solutions Group. IEFG which has developed innovative strategies for the 21st Century. Richard hosted a weekly program on WVOX-1460 AM radio, called “The Advocates,” which was concerned with “public policy” issues. The show, which was aired from 2007 until May 15, 2013, has had amongst its guests; Representative Charles Rangel, Chairperson of the House Ways and Means Committee, Mr. Jonathan Alter of Newsweek, along with hundreds of others. All the 300 shows are archived at Richard currently gives lectures on Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, FDR and the Jewish Community, The New Deal, FDR and Douglas MacArthur, 20th Century American Foreign Policy Resulting in Conflict, and Israel’s Right to Exist. Richard lives in Boynton Beach, Fl, with his wife Linda of 44 years. They have two married children. Their daughter Dana is a Rutgers College graduate, with a MS from Boston University, and is the Assistant Director of Recruitment at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Their son Jon is an electrical engineering graduate of Princeton University and a senior software architect at NY/Mellon Bank in NYC. Richard J. Garfunkel Recent Appearances: KTI Synagogue, Rye Brook, NY- Long Term Care & Estate Conservation- Anshe Shalom Synagogue, New Rochelle, NY- Long Term Care- American Legion Post, Valhalla, NY- Long Term Care and Asset Protection- Doyle Senior Ctr, New Rochelle, NY-Long Term Care and Asset Protection- AME Methodist Ministers, New Rochelle, NY, LTC and Charitable Giving- Profession Women in Construction, Elmsford, NY, LTC and Business Benefits- Kol Ami Synagogue- White Plains, NY, Long Term Care and Disability - Beth El Men's Club-New Rochelle, NY-Long Term Care-Is it Necessary- Greater NY Dental Meeting Javits Ctr, NY, NY- LTC and Disability- IBEW Local #3 , White Plains, NY, Long Term Care and Asset Protection, Health Fair -Bethel Synagogue, New Rochelle, NY-LTC and Disability, Heath Fair- Riverdale Mens Club CSAIR- Riverdale, NY- LTC- Life Weight Watchers of Westchester and the Bronx-LTC and Tax Implications Sunrise Assisted Living of Fleetwood, Mount Vernon, NY-LTC Sprain Brook Manor of Scarsdale-LTC- November 15, 2001 Sunrise Assisted Living of Stamford, Connecticut, February 2002 Kol Ami Synagogue, White Plains, NY, February, 2002 The Old Guard Society of White Plains, NY, April, 2002 The Westchester Meadows, Valhalla, NY August, 2002 Kol Ami Synagogue, White Plains, NY, October, 2002 JCC of Scarsdale, Scarsdale, NY, November, 2002 The Westchester Meadows, Valhalla, NY, January, 2003 The Rotary Club of White Plains, NY January, 2003 The Westchester Meadows, Valhalla, NY April, 2003 Westchester Reform Temple, Scarsdale, NY January, 2004 Mount Vernon High School, Mount Vernon, NY March 2004 Kol Ami/JCC of White Plains, NY November, 2004 The Westchester Reform Temple, Scarsdale, January 2005 The Sunrise of Fleetwood, Mount Vernon, April, 2005 The Woodlands of Ardsley, assisted living, November, 2005 The Woodlands of Ardsley, assisted living, December, 2005 The Woodlands of Ardsley, assisted living, January, 2005 Rotary Club of Elmsford, April, 2006 Kiwanis Club of Yonkers, June, 2006 Greenburgh Jewish Center, November, 2006 Temple Kol Ami, White Plains, February, 2007 Hebrew Institute, White Plains, March, 2007 Temple Kol Ami, White Plains, NY, April, 2007 Westchester Meadows. Valhalla, November, 2007 Hebrew Institute. White Plains, November, 2007 Art Zuckerman Radio Show- January, 2008 JCC of the Hudson, Tarrytown, February, 2008 Matt O’Shaughnessy Radio Show, March, 2008 WVOX –Election Night Coverage, November, 2008 WVOX – Inaugural Coverage, January 20, 2009 The Advocates-host of the WVOX Radio Show, 2007- 2010 Rotary Club of Pleasantville, February, 2009 Hebrew Institute of White Plains, May, 2009 JCC Hudson, Tarrytown, December, 2009-10-11-12 Brandeis Club, Yonkers, March 25, 2010

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