She thinks the Italian gentlemen were right to haul Ettore Albini, the critic of the Secolo, from the stalls because he did not stand up when the band played the Royal March. She heard that at supper. Ay. They love their country when they are quite sure which country it is.
She listens: virgin most prudent.
America won independence under a brain-trust influenced powerfully by immigrants. Every American knows Lafayette, who was not an immigrant, and Hamilton, who was. Immigrant leadership also included von Steuben, Kosciusko, John Paul Jones, Pulaski, John Barry, and de Kalb, whose last words were: “I die the death I always prayed for: the death of a soldier fighting for the rights of man.” Irish immigrants were largely responsible for the Union victory in the American Civil War, especially at the “high-water mark” of Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg. The tide turned in Lincoln’s favor when Irish conscripts filled the blue ranks. Similarly, Italian and Japanese second-generation immigrants were famously courageous during the Second World War.
The Popper family fled persecution in Eastern Europe for what was to become a new Italian nation. Factions in Trieste, tussled on behalf of Europe’s powers, one would be happy to become part of the young Italian nation, but that would remain unsettled for decades to come. In 1910, only half the population of Trieste spoke Italian.
Emigree Amalia Popper listens to the voices of nationalism in a new Italy. Ettore Albini, music critic and socialist, had been physically ejected from La Scala opera house when he refused to honor Italy’s royal anthem, Marcia Reale. Immigrant sympathy for an adopted nation stirs the Popper family’s patriotism.
The Irredentism Movement in the last decade of the nineteenth century and early twentieth worked for the Italian annexation of Trieste, politicizing issues including the language of school instruction. The Austro-Hungarian Empire countered the growth of Irredentism by encouraging Slavs to immigrate into Trieste. Wherever possible, Eastern Europeans were given jobs in the public sector to lessen Italian influence over the city’s machinery. Among those most supportive of the West-facing Irredentism were Jewish immigrants to Trieste. They predicted better treatment under the Italian kingdom than under the Austrian Empire. Amalia digested that conversation, sitting at her dinner table. She accepted that those who undermined Italy, like Albini, deserved scorn.
Where immigration brings a better life, the new arrivals embrace the new land and culture. Thirteen percent of all U.S. military veterans, for example, are first or second-generation immigrants (The Migration Policy Institute).
The preference for Italian nationality, exclusionary biases, and assimilation but with cultural separateness continued to be problematic for Trieste’s Jewish community. Joyce used these elements when he molded the character of Leopold Bloom and the events of Ulysses.
don ward August 25, 2020