The Culture of Critique

Culture
Culture

Fundamental to the transformation of the United States as a result of massive non-European immigration was the decline of ethnic consciousness among European peoples. It is fascinating to contrast the immigration debates of the 1920s with those of the 1950s and 1960s. The restrictionists of the 1920s  unabashedly asserted the right of European-derived peoples to the land they had conquered and settled. There were many assertions of ethnic interest—that the people who colonized and created the political and economic culture of the country had a right to maintain it as their possession. This sort of morally selfassured nativism (even the word itself now has a pathological ring to it) can be seen in the statement of Representative William N. Vaile of Colorado, a prominent restrictionist, quoted in Chapter 7 of CofC.

By the 1940s and certainly by the 1960s it was impossible to make such assertions without being deemed not only a racist but an intellectual Neanderthal. Indeed, Bendersky (2000) shows that such rhetoric was increasingly impossible in the 1930s. One can see the shift in the career of racial theorist Lothrop Stoddard, author of books such as The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy and numerous articles for the popular media, such as Collier’s, Forum, and The Saturday Evening Post. Stoddard viewed Jews as highly intelligent and as racially different from Europeans. He also believed that Jews were critical to the success of Bolshevism. However, he stopped referring to Jews completely in his lectures to the Army War College in the late 1930s. The Boasian revolution in anthropology had triumphed, and theorists who believed that race was important for explaining human behavior became fringe figures. Stoddard himself went from being a popular and influential writer to being viewed as a security risk as the Roosevelt administration prepared the country for war with National Socialist Germany.

Culture Of Critique

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