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This fish peddler probably had not gone to college, and so had no one to tell him that he couldn’t make it, and that his children couldn’t rise, because this was such a terrible country.

No one can claim that there was no anti-Semitism in America, any more than they can claim that there was never any anti-Asian discrimination. There was plenty of both. But that is very different from following “leaders” whose message would only keep them grounded, after the skies were open to them as never before.

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.