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Wed Feb 18, 2015, 09:36 PM

“The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction” by Linda Gordon

In 1904, a group of New York nuns delivered 40 mostly Irish but entirely Catholic orphans to a remote Arizona mining town to be adopted by local Catholics. What happened next is the subject of historian Linda Gordon’s compelling new book: For their act of Christian charity, the nuns were rewarded with near-lynching and public vilification of an intensity hard to fathom today.

As Gordon makes clear in writing so alive that it makes the reader smell sagebrush and white supremacy, the Eastern nuns didn’t realize that, in turn-of-the-century Arizona, Catholic also meant Mexican, and Mexican meant inferior. How could a dirty, amoral Mexican (terms that were among the nicer descriptions of the would-be foster parents in newspaper accounts and sworn testimony) raise a white child? To Western whites, the nuns were depraved white-slavers selling children to drunken-whore savages.

Local whites (nearly all Protestant, and therefore ineligible to receive the sisters’ charges) rioted and “liberated” the children from their Mexican foster parents, all of whom had been carefully vetted by the local (white) priest in accordance with the Sisters of Charity’s well-established system. Many white Arizonans concocted stories claiming they’d seen
Mexicans pay a priest on receipt of a child, or claiming that the sisters promised them children if they’d ante up. As Gordon plausibly sees it, these manufactured memories helped them to make sense of why another white would deliver helpless white children to the clutches of near-animals — and also legitimized their “rescue” of the children.

The sisters sued to win back the children, promising that they’d be placed with Catholic, and — having learned their lesson — white parents. Indeed, the sisters abandoned the Mexicans entirely, claiming they would have never given the children to them had they “known.” Interestingly, the suits were all civil; no criminal charges were ever entertained, let alone filed, against the vigilantes, although they were kidnappers whose treatment of the sisters and the Mexicans was brutal. When the mob first came for the sisters to “voluntarily” give up the children, 100 people crowded into their hotel lobby, with 300 more outside threatening the nuns with tar and feathers. Many were armed, and several called for a rope.

“In the street a sheriff sat on horseback, with a revolver, like the other men,” one sister later wrote. “Women called us vile names, and some of them put pistols to our heads. They said there was no law in that town; that they made their own laws. We were told to get the children from the Spaniards [meaning the Mexicans, a difference the sisters could not understand] … If we did not we would be killed.”

The case eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court, where, unsurprisingly, whites’ right to protect their racial purity, their societal supremacy and their right to state-sanctioned violence remained sacrosanct. The “rescued” children grew up with nice, white criminals as parents and role models, across the tracks from their erstwhile Mexican-American parents, none of whom were allowed to testify, file written statements or even enter the courtroom. The great orphan abduction — in which Mexican-Americans tried to do the right thing and were nearly massacred for it — was settled entirely among whites.


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Reply “The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction” by Linda Gordon (Original post)
Xipe Totec Feb 2015 OP
niyad Feb 2015 #1
Xipe Totec Feb 2015 #2
Dr. Xavier Feb 2015 #3
Judi Lynn Feb 2015 #4

Response to Xipe Totec (Original post)

Wed Feb 18, 2015, 10:45 PM

1. sad read

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Response to niyad (Reply #1)

Wed Feb 18, 2015, 10:59 PM

2. Yes. Very Sad. nt

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Response to Xipe Totec (Original post)

Thu Feb 19, 2015, 04:34 AM

3. As a son of the Southwest

Both of my families were affected by the theft of Manifest Destiny. My families were destroyed by the dishonesty of the leaders of the 'greatest country on Earth'. Paybacks gonna be a bitch.

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Response to Dr. Xavier (Reply #3)

Thu Feb 19, 2015, 05:41 AM

4. The hatred has run deeply in their veins. It's still poisoning the lives of human beings.

I hope to live long enough to witness just a little of the payback. It's been due so long.

Sad to hear of your loved ones history. They did it to so many, MANY human beings. It's a miracle there was anyone left at all to pass on the truth of what happened. It was genocide. There's nothing decent anyone can say about what happened.

We have heard they are doing their best to have ALL the school history books completely rewritten, replacing what little truth had been passed along in the older whitewashed books.

Welcome to D.U. , Dr. Xavier.

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