1920s NATIVISM – SYNOPSIS
1)Nativism is the native-born fear of the foreign-born because of differences in language, religion, culture and/or race.
2)Xenophobia is the fear of the outsider.
PART ONE: POST-WORLD WAR ONE “RADICALISM”
“RED SCARE” (1919- )
3)Communists took over the nation of Russia in 1917.
4)The Communist Manifesto called for a worldwide revolution, in which the
workers of the world would unite and create a dictatorship of the proletariat.”
5)Soviet leader Trotsky stated his “faith” was in a communist future of mankind that was
anti-capitalistic and atheistic. He had a theory of “permanent revolution” around the world.
6)In Communist Russia, private property was eliminated and the Russian
economy became controlled by the centralized state.
RADICAL THREAT (1919-20)
7)The years 1919 and 1920 saw the U.S. experience many labor strikes.
8)The U.S. had difficulty adjusting to a post-war economy.
9)”Radical Terrorism” took place in which a wave of bombing targeted
political conservatives and businessmen. This enflamed Nativist fears.
10)Attorney General Palmer’s house was fire-bombed. He then became a leader for a “100% Americanism” philosophy.
“Americanism is love of America, loyalty to her institutions as the best yet devised by man to secure life, liberty, individual dignity, and happiness; and the willingness to defend our Country and Flag against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” – T.Roosevelt, Jr
Are there a lot of disloyal Americans who hurt our nation by being critical?
Do you have to love everything about America? Is “100% conformity” American???
11)Palmer coordinated nation-wide raids on alleged “radicals”.
Over 500 immigrants were imprisoned without being convicted of a crime.
America was worried over the “radical threat” posed by foreign, “un-American” forces.
ARE WE BEING “PARANOID” OR ARE THE PEOPLE “OUT TO GET US” REALLY OUT TO GET US??? IF SO, WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT IT?
PART TWO – AMERICA: IMMIGRANT NATION
12)In 1920, 13.2% of Americans were foreign-born. Over 40% were either
foreign-born or the children of foreign born
13)The 1920 Republican Party political platform stated, “the number of foreigners
shall not exceed that which can be assimilated with reasonable speed.”
14)The Emergency Quota Act (1921) set a limit of 355,000 Europeans per
year allowed to emigrate to the United States.
15)Each nation was limited to 3 % of what was allowed in 1910.
16)The National Origins Act sought to limit the immigration of southern and eastern Europeans. No Asians immigrants were allowed in legally.
16)During the 1920s, there was a dramatic change from previous immigration policy. It changed from America being a sanctuary for down-trodden Europeans.
17)Many native-born Americans distrusted foreigners in general, seeing them as, “troublemakers”.
PART THREE – KU KLUX REVIVAL
18)The Ku Klux Klan started after the Civil War. (1865) It’s initial aim or
goal was to “terrorize” blacks newly freed from slavery.
19)The 1915 movie “Birth of a Nation” portrayed the Klan saving
white families from African-Americans intent on looting and raping.
20)The film attracted huge audiences and helped increase Klan popularity.
21)Klansman William G. Simmons described America as a “garbage can”
of “aliens”, that would eventually outnumber “native” Americans.
22)The Klan sought “100% Americanism”, meaning people who were W.A.S.P.s” – White Anglo-Saxon Protestants.
23)The “new” Klan was anti-black, anti-foreigner, anti-Catholic,
anti-Semitic, anti-Pacifist and anti-Communist.
24)The Klan would come to represent the prejudices and fears of
many native-born Americans, especially those who lived in small towns.
25)Klan membership, by 1920, was about 100,000.
By 1925, it was around 5 million.
26)Many Klansmen were prominent politicians.
Klan popularity with an element of American society was displayed nationally in 1925 with a march on Washington, D.C.
27)Klansmen believed their cause was a moral crusade.
They believed they were protecting decent “American values”.
28)After 1925, Klan popularity declined, in part because their national leader was disgraced in a sexual assault trial that was nationally reported.
This (amongst other things) made the Klan look to be self-righteous hypocrites.
29) REASONS FOR NATIVISM
SOCIAL – “FOREIGNERS” &“OUTSIDERS” CANNOT BE TRUSTED OR LOYAL
POLITICAL– DANGEROUS, ANTI-AMERICAN IDEOLOGIES:
ANARCHISTS (no government), COMMUNISTS (no capitalism)
RELIGIOUS – DISLIKE OF NON-PROTESTANT RELIGIONS
ECONOMIC – IMMIGRANTS TAKING AWAY “AMERICAN” JOBS
PART FOUR – A 1920s NATIVISM CASE STUDY – “The JAZZ SINGER”
30)This first “talking” film (with sound) was one of the first to deal with
the immigrant experience.
31)It told the story of the conflict between an aged Jewish rabbi/cantor and his young, assimilated son, who wanted to enter show business.
32)His father was a Russian-Jewish immigrant, who assumed his son would
follow in his footsteps. Instead, the son changes his name and is
thrown out of his father’s house.
He would eventually become a “show-biz success”.
33)The movie character played by Al Jolson sang in black-face.
Doing this hid the performer’s Jewish identity. Ironically, it made him
seem more American.
34)Much of American mass culture had been appropriated (“borrowed”) from African – Americans.
Jews helped re-vitalize “American” popular
culture with “white” versions of African-American music.
35)A Russian-Jewish immigrant, Irving Berlin, wrote the most popular
“American” (and “Christian”) of songs – “White Christmas”, “Easter Parade”
and “God Bless America”.
36)At the same time “The Jazz Singer” was America’s most popular movie,
the radio show “Amos and Andy” (ostensibly showing “African-American life”) was the most popular national show on radio.
CONCLUSIONS – The Jazz Singer and American Media
37)”The Jazz Singer” was a story of assimilation, where immigants “outsiders” wouldcome to the United States and seek to become “American”.
38)The movie promises that the son could “have it all” – a Jewish past and an American future.
39)The Jazz Singer showed Americans would accept “Jewish” and “black” culture, at least with a “Jewish“ face. (Many Jewish actors would change theirnames to sound more “American” – Al Jolson was born Asa Yoelson
in Lithuania – he was billed “the World’s Greatest Entertainer”)
40)The Jewish-American film “moguls” that would come to dominate American movies sought to make it into an “American middle-class” form of entertainment.
41)Films of the 1920s screened out “divisive” politics and immigrant life and
emphasized “inclusive” American glamour and the “modern” life.
42)American filmmakers in the 1920s wanted to make movies into a vehicle of Americanization, which would come to represent our culture or “way of life”.
43)”The Jazz Singer” repudiated 1920s Nativist fears and celebrates the
American “melting pot”.
44)Ironically, the greatest of 1920s “American Culture” would come from those considered “outsiders”, not “100% American.” (according to the Klan/Nativists)
45)Ironically, great “American” culture has come from descendants of those
historically denied their “liberty”, here and abroad.
QUESTION: To what extent is American media entertainment (movies, television, music, radio) an accurate reflection of American society?
OR does it “distort” reality?
NATIVISM – FINAL CONCLUSIONS
To what extent WAS/IS AMERICA “RACIST” and “XENOPHOBIC” ????
Is America “EXCLUSIVE”, SEEKING GROUP “CONFORMITY??????
Are Americans “INCLUSIVE”, HISTORICALLY THE MOST “TOLERANT” and “OPEN” OF PEOPLES/ CULTURES, willing to embrace something “new”, resisting blind conformity ???