Friday, April 16, 2021

Seditionist Death Cult Launches "America First Caucus", Dedicated To "Anglo-Saxon Political Traditions", aka White Supremacy, Nazism (Klan Hoods/Robes Optional)

Sarah Churchwell, a professor of American literature and humanities at the University of London, is the author of Behold, America: The Entangled History of "America First" and "the American Dream" (2018). From an interview she did with Vox (here):
It was a Republican campaign slogan in the 1880s, which means it appeared much earlier than most people think. But it didn't become a national catchphrase until President Woodrow Wilson used it in 1915. He was using it to try to keep America out of the first World War. But he was kind of doing a tap dance, because he wanted to placate the isolationists, although he was himself an internationalist. . . . It was ostensibly about maintaining neutrality in the name of leadership.

But then the phrase gets taken up in the name of isolationism almost instantly, and it is quickly connected with other ideas that were also on the rise at the time, especially the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. It became linked to anti-immigration movements, and sympathizers of fascism, and was popularized by Charles Lindbergh, the famous American pilot who lead the "America First Committee" — a group of some 800,000 Americans who wanted to keep us out of WWII.

[So it began as an antiwar isolationist slogan, and then morphed into an explicitly xenophobic and fascist slogan?]

Yeah, and it happened pretty predictably. . . . Put America first, native-born people first. It connects back to the nativism of the 1840s and 1850s, and it sounds broadly anti-immigrant. In a moment where people were very concerned about waves of immigration, which was a big motivating force for the KKK, it was only natural that America First would become a rallying cry for nativists and racists.

[To be clear, who did the America First-ers want to keep out?]

Anybody who's not white, not Protestant, not what they saw as a native-born American, an old-style American. And that was their notion of what America was supposed to be. So America First did have very strong resonances with ideals like "Make America Great Again," which was a phrase that they nearly echoed as well. The idea then, as now, was that the true version of America is the America that looks like me, the American fantasy I imagine existed before it was diluted with other races and other people. America First spoke directly and powerfully to that segment of white America that felt they were losing their power, their dominance. It was a way of saying me first, only my version of America should be allowed to have any sway here. . . .

[Former Trump advisor Steve Bannon] knows this stuff. Bannon has read history, and he uses phrases like "economic nationalism" which were also associated with America First in the 1920s. It's not a coincidence. They chose the phrase "America First" pretty late in the campaign, and it seem pretty deliberate. Donald Trump didn't stumble on it.

Good News

No comments: