Kevin M. Kruse @KevinMKruse Historian. Author/editor of White Flight; The New Suburban History; Spaces of the Modern City; Fog of War; One Nation Under God; Fault Lines. Aug. 09, 2018 2 min read

This bears strong echoes of the racist screeds of the 1910s and 1920s that paved the way for the rise of the Second Ku Klux Klan and immigration restriction at home, and much worse abroad.

Consider Madison Grant's The Passing of the Great Race (1916), which complained about unwanted demographic changes in the same terms.

Older Americans from the "Nordic race," Grant warned, were increasingly being displaced by newer immigrants from southern and eastern Europe.

White Anglo-Saxon Protestants, Grant complained, weren't reproducing at rates fast enough to keep up with "the Slovak, the Italian, the Syrian and the Jew."

"Suicidal ethics" permitted this unwanted immigration, which was already "exterminating" the old stock American "race."

In The Rising Tide of Color: The Threat Against White World Supremacy (1920), Lothrop Stoddard warned that white races were being engulfed by the more fertile colored races.

In the Saturday Evening Post, Kenneth Roberts warned about arrivals of Polish Jews, who were "human parasites."

Unrestricted immigration would create "a hybrid race of people as worthless and futile as the good-for-nothing mongrels of Central America and Southeastern Europe."

The Ku Klux Klan used this popular panic over immigration to revive itself as a national organization in the 1920s.

If you're interested, I did a thread about its general influence here:

In 1922, the Klan's Imperial Wizard warned about "the tremendous influx of foreign immigration, tutored in alien dogmas and alien creeds, slowly pushing the native-born white American population into the center of the country, there to be ultimately overwhelmed and smothered."

In 1923, a meeting of Grand Dragons of the Klan focused a great deal on the supposed demographic threat that new immigration posed to old-stock Americans and the need to crack down on it.

Here's one passage. More here: 

The popular panic over immigration, and the pseudo-scientific justifications for nativism and racism, came together in the push for the National Origins Act of 1924, a measure that drastically reduced immigration from SE Europe and banned Asians from immigrating entirely.

Here's Senator "Cotton Ed" Smith (D-SC) invoking Madison Grant's work in his speech calling for passage of the immigration restriction law.

The National Origins Act of 1924 was passed by overwhelming margins in both houses of Congress, with equally strong support from both major parties.

President Calvin Coolidge had reservations about the provision for Japanese exclusion -- Chinese immigrants had already been barred decades before -- but he ultimately thought the immigration restriction was needed and signed the bill into law.

The National Origins Act of 1924 not only shut the door on a centuries-old tradition of open immigration to America.

As James Whitman has noted, it also served as a model for the racial citizenship laws that took root in Nazi Germany a decade later.

As Whitman noted, these immigration restrictions, along with southern segregation laws, ultimately served as the inspiration for the 1935 Nuremburg Laws that in turn served as legal justification for the Holocaust. 

We need to remember that, a century ago, unhinged fear-mongering about "demographic changes" in the American population led not just to drastic immigration restrictions at home, but to disastrous horrors abroad.

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