Published on Sunday, July 05, 2020 by Common Dreams
Hitler’s Ideologues: The U.S. Racism that Bore Fruit in Mein Kampf
by Jorge Majfud <>

[image: Hitler saw The Passing of the Great Race as his Bible]Hitler saw *The
Passing of the Great Race* as his Bible.

*“If you are a blond, you belong to the best people in the world, but it’s
all over with you! Your forebears committed the fatal mistake of
intermingling with inferior brunettes, and as a result the great qualities
of the blond race, which gave the world the highest type of culture, have
been sadly undermined and the predominant traits of the brunettes are
asserting themselves more and more until their complete triumph is
foreshadowed, especially in the United States.”*

Thus begins an October 22, 1916, New York Times feature article based on
the newly published book *The Passing of the Great Race* by Madison Grant,
who “in more scientific language” warns of the end of the blond race at the
hands of brown-haired whites and, worse, of those with brown hair and dark
skin. According to Grant, the problem of Nordic peoples was that they did
not enjoy the cold and preferred the heat and sunny warmth of the south,
but were only able to subsist in the tropical regions as owners of the land
instead of working it. The inhabitants of India still spoke the Aryan
language but their blood had lost the quality of the conqueror. Grant, in
one of his more moderate conclusions, discovered that the solution lay in
the practices of the past: “No ethnic conquest can be complete unless the
natives are exterminated and the invaders bring their own women with them…
It is quite evident that the West Indies, the coast region of our Gulf
States, perhaps, also the black belt of the lower Mississippi Valley must
be abandoned to Negroes.”

The ideas of white racial superiority used to explain and justify modern
imperialism were common currency during the 19th century on both sides of
the Atlantic, generations before Communism became the excuse. In the United
States, scientific justifications were necessary in order to keep a large
Black population in the place (first as slaves and later as segregated
second-class citizens) that supposedly corresponded to them according to
the rules of order, civilization, and progress.

Well into the 20th century, the memoranda and reports of various
politicians, senators and ambassadors continued that tradition. The
Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America and later Ambassador to
Mexico, Francis White, for decades wrote reports and gave lectures to
future diplomats explaining that “With certain exceptions, a general
characteristic of most governments of Latin America, especially those in
the tropics and having a very small pure white population, is that great
dishonesty exists among public officials.” For White, Ecuador was a “very
backward country” because its population was only “5% pure white, the rest
mixed blood or pure Indian.” His advice to trainees in 1922 was that if
they were assigned a non-white country, they should know that “political
stability in these countries is more or less in direct proportion to the
percentage of pure white inhabitants.”

According to Grant, and according to many others, the white race had
survived in Canada, in Argentina, and in Australia thanks to the
extermination of the native races. If the superior race does not
exterminate the inferior one, the inferior race will triumph. “At the time
of the Revolutionary War the settlers in the thirteen Colonies were
overwhelmingly Nordic,” but by the mid-19th century “the new immigration
[…] contained a large and increasing number of the weak, the broken and the
mentally crippled of all races” from the south of Europe. “These immigrants
adopt the language of the [native-born] American, they wear his clothes,
they steal his name and they are beginning to take his women, but they
seldom adopt his religion or understand his ideals.”

*The Passing of the Great Race* did not become an instant best-seller, but
it did become one of the classics of scientific racism of the 20th century,
and one that would resonate easily with white economic elites and aspiring
poor alike. Among Grant’s avid readers can be counted Theodore Roosevelt
and Henry Ford, the latter a future admirer and collaborator of Adolf
Hitler, who had recommended Grant’s book to him. The influential daily
newspaper *The Boston Transcript* concluded that every thinking (which is
to say, white) person should read it. The book had a big impact on the
ruling class and helped define the categories that elected officials used
to draft U.S. immigration laws in 1924: the Nordic race located at the top,
below them the Jews, Spanish, Italians and Irish and, even farther down,
all those of dark complexion. According to Grant, “race implies heredity
and heredity implies all the moral, social and intellectual characteristics
and traits which are the springs of politics and government.” And “it has
taken us fifty years to learn that speaking English, wearing good clothes
and going to school and to church do not transform a Negro into a white
man.” Grant does not clarify whether the racists originating from the
superior races aren’t the inevitable exceptions to the rule, since it is
well known that among white people there are also members with acute mental
backwardness who, for obvious reasons, do not view themselves that way and
are eager to adopt this theory of superiority by association which requires
no individual merit.

A few years after its publication, in 1924, on the other side of the
Atlantic, a soldier in his prison cell named Adolf Hitler would read
Grant’s book with great passion and begin to write his *Mein Kampf*. Hitler
saw *The Passing of the Great Race* as his Bible. When Hitler became the
leader of Nazi Germany, his Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, would
read with the same passion the book *Propaganda*, by the Jewish American
and double nephew of Sigmund Freud, Edward Bernays. Bernays did not invent
“fake news” but he elevated it to a category of science. Unlike his uncle
Freud, he would prove he was right when, in 1954, by request of the C.I.A.,
he managed to make the world believe that the new president of Guatemala
was not a democrat but a Communist. As a consequence of this media
manipulation, hundreds of thousands of dead would carpet the earth of
Guatemala over the next several decades.

The soldier Adolf Hitler did not have radical ideas. Nor was he a radical
thinker, quite the contrary: his ideas and his thinking were commonplaces
in his time, above all on the other side of the Atlantic. In the United
States, the idea of a glorious Teutonic and Aryan race threatened with
extinction by the inferior races was standard currency during the 19th
century, from the hooded Ku Klux Klan to presidents like Theodore
Roosevelt, including Marines and volunteers who hunted Blacks for sport,
raped them and justified rape as a way of improving the race on tropical
islands. It is very likely that Nazism finds its deepest roots in the
southern U.S., long before losing its memory in the Second World War.

Ten years later, the University of California, Berkley zoologist Samuel
Jackson Holmes proposed the forced sterilization of Mexicans in the United
States (in the same way that 10,000 “idiots” had been sterilized in
California alone) in order to address the serious problem represented by
the diminishing quality of the nation’s racial stock. “The children of the
workers of today will be citizens tomorrow,” Holmes asserted. In successive
articles, he repeated the warning made by Theodore Roosevelt about “racial
suicide” that would resonate not only with members of the Ku Klux Klan but
with a broad swath of Anglo-Saxon citizens, a warning that would result,
during the Great Depression, in the persecution of Mexicans and in the
deportation of a half-million U.S. citizens with a mixed-race appearance.

*Translated by Dr. Bruce Campell, Saint John's University*
[image: Jorge Majfud] <>

*Jorge Majfud* <> is
an Uruguayan-American writer and an associate professor at Jacksonville