YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

July 1, 2010

The New/Old (anti) Americanism

Thomas Dixon, The Ku Klux Klan

This blog has a simple purpose: to distinguish between the ugly nativism (sometimes called 100% Americanism) that characterized an earlier America and that deserves to be repudiated, and the anti-Americanism propagated by the New Left and that reached its apogee in the election of Barack Obama, for some an act of reparation for the sins of white supremacy. For these and others the Obama presidency is the supreme outcome of the multiculturalism that New Leftists found agreeable in their long march through the institutions, including not only academe, but the mass media.

Everyone knows who the villains were as they flourished in the early twentieth century. Here are a few names that are most notorious:  Madison Grant, Lothrop Stoddard, Henry Pratt Fairchild, William McDougall, Henry Ford, and the novelist Thomas Dixon, author of the The Clansman and the screenplay for Birth of a Nation (enjoyed and praised by Woodrow Wilson in its White House screening).  After all, nativists argued, it was their ancestors who had tamed a continent in covered wagons, killed hostile Indians, fought the Civil War and blocked Reconstruction—that period of “misrule.” Dixon (see his fascist Flaming  Sword of 1939 and equally bizarre earlier novels) went so far as to argue that the Southern Scots-Irish race had fought and were decisive in the Revolutionary War against Britain, and their later descendants paternally protected the freedmen until nosy red unreconstructed Yankees tried to educate them, unleashing sexual chaos upon the land, and in the process killing good middle-class white folk.  Nativist propaganda helped pass the Immigration Act of 1924, and many a professor (John Higham for instance) made his reputation denouncing these bigots, while younger scholars  were training their students to despise the American past, finding it essentially racist, patriarchal, ecocidal, and capitalist/imperialist. That meant that American “identity” was demonic, we were all infected, and hence all American institutions must be denounced, and if possible, dismantled, with reparations delivered to all non-whites, here and everywhere.  Even the abolitionists were motivated by greed, it was alleged (and it is still argued). Enter “whiteness studies.” Exit a view of American history that looked to its promise, its freedoms, its largely successful (though co-opted) labor, feminist, and civil rights movements, and achievements in raising the living standards of millions.*

It was not just that all the “isms” (Indian removal, slavery, racism, etc.) were contested at the time when these events and institutions existed, but that capitalism (especially as manipulated by “the [accursed] Jews” ) was seen as the root cause of American evil, especially by organic conservatives masked as “progressives.” (Where is Charles Sumner in our historiography? See https://clarespark.com/2008/05/03/margoth-vs-robert-e-lee/, for an analysis of the contrasting rhetoric of such liberals as Sumner with that of Woodrow Wilson and other organicists whose view of governance is paternalistic and evocative of the unreconstructed Southern plantation owner.)

To conclude: the nativists reacting to mass immigration in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries mentioned above were politically defeated and marginalized (though some paleoconservatives are still noisily active). The New Left, however, though they were supposedly anti-Stalinist, taught and still teach a view of the U.S. that is identical with Stalinist and Nazi anti-American propaganda, for example that “Zionists” control America, and that “institutional racism” still exists under its maleficent aegis, as if a jewified, trigger-happy John Calhoun had just been elected as the President of a slavocracy. Now it is time for a more realistic view of the American past, neither idealizing it nor casting it into the pit.

*I left out environmentalism for two reasons: first, it has been infiltrated by communists and/or hippie-ish “deep ecologists”; second, I think the situation is even worse than most think, but then I have a strong science background (was instructed in ecology at Cornell). It is my impression that we don’t know enough about our impact on the environment to press ahead at the industrializing pace we have to date. And if America has failed in this respect, so has the rest of the planet.

Thomas Dixon II

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7 Comments »

  1. “About the only media outlets that are liberal are “The Nation” and Pacifica radio.” Oh, yes, just those two are discernibly liberal…and the NY Times, the Washington Post, NPR, the major network news operations, CNN…other than that, not much.

    As to Obama’s economic policy being to the right of Nixon and Eisenhower, I was just a kid during the Eisenhower administration but I don’t recall the equivalent of a nearly trillion dollar stimulus, or an attempt to take over a sixth of the economy, or government purchase of major industrial corporations, but as I say, I was just a kid and I may have been watching “Davy Crockett” when all that went on. [This comment does not respond to my blog, but to the comment by BigGuy that follows. CS.]

    Comment by Alex Bensky — June 22, 2011 @ 1:16 am | Reply

  2. I think writing about the “anti-Americanism propagated by the New Left and that reached its apogee in the election of Barack Obama, for some an act of reparation for the sins of white supremacy,” is laying it on too thick. Its hard to find any one on the left in the US, and as for the New Left, no one from the New Left is broadcast or published in national newspapers. About the only media outlets that are liberal, and maybe leftist, are “The Nation” and Pacifica Radio.

    The New Left’s probably in graduate education scattered throughout the country. Among people on the far left, just like on the far right, there’s nutty antisemitism, but that’s hardly anti-American. It’s in an out of the mainstream over time. Right now, antisemitism is way, way out of the ordinary.

    Obama’s election does not in any way constitute reparation for the sins of White supremacy. The young people who showed up to vote for him in 2008 — and who did not vote in 2010 — were not voting their consciences, they were voting their (empty) wallets.

    Your writing could be misconstrued to state that you view Obama to be part of the New Left. That’s hardly the case. Nearly all his economic policies are to the RIGHT of Eisenhower and Nixon and Clinton. He’s left of Carter and “Scoop” Jackson, but that would just put him in the Center-Right.

    Some of Obama’s supporters may be part of the New Left. He’s not going to refuse their votes. Obama’s mainstream, but the Right’s been “working the refs” so long that even a Leftist historian and intellectual like you (appear to be to me) can end up construing him to be on the Left, and perhaps part of the New Left. That’s not who he is.

    Comment by BigGuy — March 26, 2011 @ 12:28 am | Reply

  3. “I have a strong science background (was instructed in ecology at Cornell)”
    “I am . . . a scholar”

    Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

    Comment by RBishop — July 5, 2010 @ 4:00 pm | Reply

  4. Thanks for your comment, David, but don’t put me in any boxes. I am not one who has a different ideology, but a scholar who has tracked the way the various social movements of the 1960 were co-opted and turned against their original supposed constituencies. You might want to read my essay on the offing of Bunche and King, my Pacifica memoirs (three of them), and nearly everything else on the website. In other words, I hold to the marketplace of ideas and will defend it as long as I draw breath. See especially my last updated entry: https://clarespark.com/2009/09/14/historians-journalists-and-polarization/.

    Comment by clarespark — July 3, 2010 @ 10:08 pm | Reply

  5. David, I can’t agree with you. The liberal press was unequivocal in support for him, as was academe. Blacks, Latinos, big labor, and youth turned out in great numbers. He didn’t win by a landslide, and his machine, not the man himself, ran a tight campaign promising hope and change. What change do you think his constituencies expected?
    Since his election, what has he done that has not expressed the resolve to turn around an evil American foreign policy through appeasing dictators, and turning on Israel?

    Comment by clarespark — July 2, 2010 @ 3:41 pm | Reply

    • clare,
      I wouldn’t expect you to agree with me. Ideological differences are never overcome by exchanges of view, but the latter are more interesting and informative than confirmation of one’s own bias. Some of the points you make bring to mind the world view of Commentary. I, by way of contrast, consider myself to be a wishy washy liberal. I think that I shall stick with the general tenor of my original comment. The liberal press, professors, Blacks, Latins, unions, and youth are the traditional Demcratic constituencies, and I believe that the ascription of New Leftism and anti-Americanism is quite excessive. I would characterize Obama’s foreign policy rhetoric as repudiation of the immoderately confrontational(not evil) stance of his predecessor. I also think “that turning on Israel” overstates the degree of Obama’s policy re-orientation.

      Comment by david gansel — July 3, 2010 @ 9:55 pm | Reply

  6. agree with your conclusion that it’s time for realism. It always is. I can’t agree that the election of Obama was an apogee of anti-Americanism(new left or otherwise). I believe that any Democrat would have won the election. The McCain/Pailin ticket was, in my opinion, a non-serious Republican giveaway.
    The question then becomes why the nomination of Obama?
    That had more to do with his own organizing ability(his background is in community organization , after all), the weakness of the other candidates, and the generational factor more than any new left antipathy toward the US.

    Comment by david gansel — July 2, 2010 @ 2:22 pm | Reply


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