In the years after World War I, Mexican Americans and Irish Americans consciously utilized the language and symbols of American patriotism to advance their social and political agendas. In doing so, they adopted and repurposed the rhetoric that a new wave of American nationalists, the True Americanists, sought to use to negate their very citizenship. True Americanists argued that the cultural obligations of United States citizenship required complete assimilation. With Mexican-American and Irish-American community leaders continuing to rely upon messages of shared ethnicity to garner and mobilize followers, their use of Irishness and Mexicanness ran afoul of this new nationalism. Instead of abandoning traditional messages of collective heritage, they fused them with American patriotism, to create organizations that remained cohesive by relying on the memory of a common homeland but were also bolstered from outside attacks by pointing out the sacrifices of community members in the interests of the United States.
True Americanism reshaped the way that Mexican Americans and Irish Americans thought and spoke about themselves in relation to the United States, but did not lead to them compromising on long-term political goals. Rather than dismissing the political activities of Mexican Americans and Irish Americans, the critiques of True Americanists instead proved to be a measuring stick that they could instead adopt and repurpose to show the ways in which they did indeed fulfill the requirements for being good American citizens.
John R. Chavez
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Adams, Zachary, "True Americanism: Mexican-American and Irish-American Nationalism Through the Twentieth Century" (2018). History Theses and Dissertations. 6.
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