Wednesday, December 26, 2007

On February 21nd, 1888, the New York Times carried a story with this headline: "Masters of Mendicants: Syrian Arabs Infesting the Cities. How they squeeze through castle garden-pen; Pictures of the most filthy of immigrants." The reporter then noted the differences between the Swedish immigrants and Arabs: The Swedes, dressed in their best clothes, with earnest, honest faces, impatient to start for their destinations in the West and begin making capital for themselves by honest toil, and the dirty, ragged, shiftless Arabs without stockings, their hands in their pockets, and puffing away at cigarettes, which they roll up themselves from tobacco they managed to beg from their fellow immigrants. When a couple of these fellows were addressed by the reporter in their native Arabic they looked astonished, and then thrust their dirty paws into his hand to shake....the reporter went, and in opening the basement door he was...overpowered by a combination of different kind of stenches, the most pungent being the stench that arises from a crowd of people huddled together and who have not washed themselves or their clothes in which they sleep for at least 12 month..."