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“IT’S HILARIOUS how easy it is to find hypocrisy,” says Jennifer Mendelsohn. Her hashtag #resistancegenealogy describes her response to hypocritical panderings concerning immigration. One person can matter, especially if she’s armed with a computer, genealogical apps, and the internet.
“And I’m a scary good sleuth,” Jennifer tells Jonathan Blitzer, interviewing her for his “So There Dept.” article in The New Yorker, February 5, 2018. She got into internet sleuthing after hearing the immigration hypocrisy of Stephen Miller, White House senior advisor. He supported a bill that would penalize immigrants who didn’t speak English. “But the 1910 census,” Jennifer found, “shows his own great-grandmother couldn’t.” This Miller ancestor spoke only Yiddish.
Nor is Miller an isolated case in Jennifer’s #resistancegenealogy activities. Here are tidbits gleaned from The New Yorker piece, a couple of them a hoot.
Iowa Republican congressman Steve King said, “… we can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” His grandmother arrived as a child at Ellis Island in 1894.
Fox News commentator Tomi Lahren said, “Respect our laws and we welcome you. If not, bye.” Tomi’s great-grandfather had been indicted for forging citizenship papers in 1917.
Like a guy who comes to mind doing considerably less research, Jennifer uses Tweets as a medium of communication. Blitzer reports that, at one point, she had been retweeted by Katy Perry. ‘I have kids,” Jennifer says, “They were freaking out.”
White House official Dan Scavino said that chain migration, i.e., family-based admission, was “choking” America. Jennifer taught herself how to search Italian records and responded, “So Dan, Let’s say Victor Scavino arrives from Canelli, Italy, in 1904; then brother Hector in 1905, brother Gildo in 1912, sister Esther in 1913, & sister Clotilde and their father Giuseppe in 1916, and they live together in NY. Do you think that would count as chain migration?”
Once #resistancegenealogy got a following, Blitzer writes, “Some fans on social media have begun thanking Mendelsohn and her research staff, but she doesn’t have one. ‘It’s me in my kitchen office, in my fuzzy slippers,’ she explained.”
Jennifer says that her forays are rarely suspenseful. “Every single one of these stories is going to end the same way…. Unless you’re a Native American or you descended from slaves who were brought here against their will, you are an immigrant in this country, or you’re a descendant of an immigrant in this country. I want to make this personal.”
#yougojennifer. One person can make a difference. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2018