Monthly Archives: January 2019

 
 

How the Nazis Were Inspired by Jim Crow

In 1935, Nazi Germany passed two radically discriminatory pieces of legislation: the Reich Citizenship Law and the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor. Together, these were known as the Nuremberg Laws, and they laid the legal groundwork for the persecution of Jewish people during the Holocaust and World War II.

When the Nazis set out to legally disenfranchise and discriminate against Jewish citizens, they weren’t just coming up with ideas out of thin air. They closely studied the laws of another country. According to James Q. Whitman, author of Hitler’s American Model, that country was the United States.

“America in the early 20th century was the leading racist jurisdiction in the world,” says Whitman, who is a professor at Yale Law School. “Nazi lawyers, as a result, were interested in, looked very closely at, [and] were ultimately influenced by American race law.”

In particular, Nazis admired the Jim Crow-era laws that discriminated against black Americans and segregated them from white Americans, and they debated whether to introduce similar segregation in Germany.

Yet they ultimately decided that it wouldn’t go far enough.

“One of the most striking Nazi views was that Jim Crow was a suitable racist program in the United States because American blacks were already oppressed and poor,” he says. “But then in Germany, by contrast, where the Jews (as the Nazis imagined it) were rich and powerful, it was necessary to take more severe measures.”

Because of this, Nazis were more interested in how the U.S. had designated Native Americans, Filipinos and other groups as non-citizens even though they lived in the U.S. or its territories. These models influenced the citizenship portion of the Nuremberg Laws, which stripped Jewish Germans of their citizenship and classified them as “nationals.”

A copy of the Nazi-issued Nuremberg Laws. (Credit: Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

A copy of the Nazi-issued Nuremberg Laws. (Credit: Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

But a component of the Jim Crow era that Nazis did think they could translate into Germany were anti-miscegenation laws, which prohibited interracial marriages in 30 of 48 states.

“America had, by a wide margin, the harshest law of this kind,” Whitman says. “In particular, some of the state laws threatened severe criminal punishment for interracial marriage. That was something radical Nazis were very eager to do in Germany as well.”

The idea of banning Jewish and Aryan marriages presented the Nazis with a dilemma: How would they tell who was Jewish and who was not? After all, race and ethnic categories are socially constructed, and interracial relationships produce offspring who don’t fall neatly into one box.

Again, the Nazis looked to America.

“Connected with these anti-miscegenation laws was a great deal of American jurisprudence on how to classify who belonged to which race,” he says.

Controversial “one-drop” rules stipulated that anyone with any black ancestry was legally black and could not marry a white person. Laws also defined what made a person Asian or Native American, in order to prevent these groups from marrying whites (notably, Virginia had a “Pocahontas Exception” for prominent white families who claimed to be descended from Pocahontas).

The Nuremberg Laws, too, came up with a system of determining who belonged to what group, allowing the Nazis to criminalize marriage and sex between Jewish and Aryan people. Rather than adopting a “one-drop rule,” the Nazis decreed that a Jewish person was anyone who had three or more Jewish grandparents.

Which means, as Whitman notes, “that American racial classification law was much harsher than anything the Nazis themselves were willing to introduce in Germany.”

It should come as no surprise then, that the Nazis weren’t uniformly condemned in the U.S. before the country entered the war. In the early 1930s, American eugenicists welcomed Nazi ideas about racial purity and republished their propaganda. American aviator Charles Lindbergh, a public admirer of Adolf Hitler’s, received a swastika medal (pictured below) from Nazi leader in 1938.


Once the U.S. entered the war, it took a decidedly anti-Nazi stance. But black American troops noticed the similarities between the two countries, and confronted them head-on with a “Double V Campaign.” It’s goal? Victory abroad against the Axis powers—and victory at home against Jim Crow

 

double v campaign

 

 

 

 

 

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CARTOONIST UNDERSTOOD TYRANTS AND BUFFOONS–Why is the U.S. in 2018 unable to understand tyrants and buffoons in our political system?

It may seem scarcely believable today, but the British foreign secretary then (1939,  before Britain formally entered WWII) personally met the cartoonist and told him to tone it down on Hitler. Low, a staunch socialist with a liberal humanitarian ideal, refused. His reply was: ‘..it’s my duty as a journalist to report matters faithfully and in my own medium I have to speak the truth. And I think this man is awful. ‘

He continued to skewer the Fuehrer. After Hitler’s defeat it came to be known that he had put the cartoonist’s name high on his kill list, should Germany have defeated and occupied Britain, a nearly realized ambition of Hitler.

But what was it about his cartoons that got to Hitler?

This is what Low himself felt:

“No dictator is inconvenienced or even displeased by cartoons showing his terrible person stalking through blood and mud. That is the kind of idea about himself that a power-seeking world-beater would want to propagate. It not only feeds his vanity, but unfortunately it shows profitable returns in an awed world.

What he does not want to get around is the idea that he is an ass, which is really damaging.I shall always remember Hitler.. not as the majestic, monstrous myth of his propaganda build-up, but as the sissy who whined to the British Foreign Office about his dignity when I ran him for a while as a comic strip.”

He portrayed Hitler no as a villain but as a buffoon, and that really hurt the man’s vanity.

'Very Well, Alone': Sir David Low's Evening Standard cartoon from June 1940, after the German invasion of France

‘Very Well, Alone’: Sir David Low’s Evening Standard cartoon from June 1940, after the German invasion of France. Because of the “America First” movement and Hitler/Mussolini enthusiasts in the U.S., it took until December 7, 1941 for our country to enter the war against Hitler. Delay cost millions of lives on every side.

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TANTRUM THEATER in the White House

‘Throwing tantrums for 72 years’: Trump biographer explains how the president bungled his business deals

Researcher and biographer Michael D’Antonio walked through the decades of bungled “deals,” that President Donald Trump had while negotiating in New York. To make matters worse, he thinks this might be the first time Trump has had to go up against a powerful woman.

“There’s a huge difference between the deals that Donald Trump used to be involved with and deals involving national security and federal employees and hundreds of thousands of people,” remarked CNN reporter and sometimes host Dana Bash.

D’Antonio agreed, noting that Trump came up with this “walk away” negotiation tactic, but it hasn’t actually worked in the past.

“I think in his past, the president actually lost a billion dollar deal on the Upper West Side when he made Ed Koch angry at him,” the biographer told Anderson Cooper Wednesday. “And the mayor wasn’t going to go along with this television city project that had real potential. He did this also with the United States Football League where all the other owners wound up being really angry. Because he pushed something beyond what was constructive.”

When it came to Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, however, D’Antonio thinks Trump is in over his head.

“As I’ve been watching this, I’ve been thinking about the fact that this is a man who has been having tantrums for 72 years,” he continued. “You know, and what Nancy Pelosi is doing is what a good mother does. She doesn’t give in to the kid having a tantrum. Chuck Schumer may not have that impulse because maybe he wasn’t as active a parent as Nancy Pelosi has been. But the last thing you do is give a who’s having a tantrum what he wants. I think this is perplexing the president. I think he’s met his match in Mrs. Pelosi.”

Indeed, Pelosi is the mother to five children and grandmother. Dealing with children isn’t a foreign concept to her.

“It doesn’t matter what people are saying to him,” Dana Bash, CNN’s chief congressional correspondent said. “It’s what he believes and he is firmly confident that this is the right thing to do for him politically. And that’s what a Republican senator who was in the private meeting with him told me today. It’s not that he is necessarily arguing that it’s the right thing to do for national security although he has said that. That he is in a good place politically and that is what is really rankling a lot of people and helping to entrench the Democrats because they see believes this is a political interrogative for him.”

D’Antonio also noted that this is the first time that he can think of where Trump has been forced to go up against a powerful woman and it’s likely difficult for him. He said that people should probably be looking more to Trump’s emotions and personality rather than strategy.

 

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