Sunday, January 03, 2010

Today -100: January 3, 1910: Of a spirit of revolting partisanship, unfairness and cruelty, getting a drink in Havana, and getting the black out

A meeting was held in Carnegie Hall to protest violations of the rights of striking shirtwaist makers by police and police magistrates who, the meeting’s resolutions declare, “have dealt with the strikers in a spirit of revolting partisanship, unfairness, and cruelty.” The police allow strikers to be assaulted, magistrates (two of whom are singled out by name) convict for “disorderly behavior” with little evidence or even against the evidence and then impose harsh sentences. A box was reserved for the magistrates, all of whom were invited. One actually came; his reaction to the proceedings is not recorded. On the platform were 350 of the “girls” who had been arrested and 20 who had been sent to the workhouse.

A NYT editorial agrees that strikers should not be thrown into the workhouse, although for the rather different reason that the abominably paid shirtwaist-makers might be corrupted by their exposure to prostitutes, “whose sinful occupation often provides what seems like wealth to the workers.”

There is also a pro-vivisection editorial, “Not Hideous When Understood,” which I will refrain from quoting.

The bar of the Plaza Hotel in Havana, described by the NYT as “distinctively an American house,” refused to serve drinks to two black members of the Cuban Congress. They came back with a large crowd of negroes and hilarity ensued. “It is thought that the riot was a concerted plan on the part of the negroes to give expression to the anti-American sentiment in Cuba.”

At a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Mr. Q. T. Simpson “declared that it was only a matter of time when the negro of the darkest hue could be made as pink skinned as the caucasian.” Mr. Simpson is a Chicago stock breeder. He declares that through experimentation we “have unearthed a great deal on the nature of chromosomes, the unit of life which gives color. I think we are on the verge of gaining complete control over these chromosomes, and that means the control of color. By a set process of treatment with baths or injections this new tide in the affairs of the black man will be brought about and these color units in the cells of the creature will be attenuated or destroyed.” He is hard at work on the process that will bring this about and make it possible for everyone to get service at the Havana Plaza Hotel. At no point in the article is he quoted as giving a reason why it is desirable to eliminate dark skin; it is just assumed.

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