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madmusic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 09:17 PM
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Culture Wars of the 1920s
Description: In 1920 Warren G. Harding successfully campaigned on the slogan, "Normalcy, not nostrums." In part this was a repudiation of Wilsonian internationalism, in part a promise to end the economic and political turmoil of the war and immediate postwar years. 1919 had seen a wave of strikes including one, the Steel Strike, led by a member of the new Communist Party. It had seen terrorist bombings, associated with the political left, and the "Great Red Scare," a crackdown on left-wing political groups, labor unions, magazines and newspapers. The "Scare" culminated in the "Palmer Raids" of 1919-20. Federal officials rounded up thousands of immigrants accused of left-wing political sympathies. Hundreds were deported, many to the newly founded Soviet Union. 1919 had witnessed the great "Spanish Flu" pandemic which claimed over 21 million lives wordwide (more than twice as many as WWI) and 450,000+ in the U.S. 1919-20 had also seen a sharp economic turndown, precipitated by the Wilson administration's decisions to terminate all war orders immediately and to demobilize millions of soldiers at the earliest possible moment.

"Normalcy" did not, however, mean a simple return to prewar America. Harding pledged to uphold the newly adopted Prohibition amendment on the sale and use of alcohol. He also supported the campaign to restrict immigration. Restriction had two goals: one was to limit the increase in the workforce, a goal with widespread support even among immigrants; the other was to consolidate the supremacy in the American mix of those whose ancestors came from northern and western Europe. This was an explicitly racist goal. Anglo-Saxons, Teutons, Scandinavians (but not Celts) were members of the "Great Race" whose very survival was threatened by the influx of inferior peoples from southern and eastern Europe. (Click here for Madison Grant's The Passing of the Great Race, one of the most influential books of the time; be careful, however, since the site in question in a present-day white supremacy site). Harding also supported the outcome of the great strikes of 1919-20, all of which had ended in failure. His would be a solidly pro-business administration, unlike those of his progressive predecessors, both Republican and Democratic, who sought to limit the power of great economic interests.Normalcy included political suffrage for women who voted in large numbers for Harding.

more: /

This site seeks to begin this process. It looks at several avenues of influence beyond the state fair exhibits and contests. One is the appropriation of eugenics research by the Ku Klux Klan to stigmatize Catholics, Jews, African Americans and others. A second is the prevalence of eugenics ideas in movies and popular literature. A third is the use of eugenics themes and motifs in a long-term and highly successful advertising campaign created by the J. Walter Thompson agency for Lifebuoy soap.

Also and
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ayeshahaqqiqa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 09:21 PM
Response to Original message
1. there was a big rise in the KKK in the '20s, I've been told
but in northern areas, it wasn't just against blacks but against Catholics as well. Do you think it was religious bias that kept Celts out of the "northern European superior" group mentioned in the article?
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madmusic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 09:42 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. That, jobs and drinking.
It also mentions Prohibition was in large part racial because immigrants drank. It was cultural for them. Similar to the Drug War and especially the 100 to 1 crack sentencing ratio today. Same culture war, different targets.
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jwirr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 10:13 PM
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3. Read: War Against the Weak by Edwin Black. Those years were
hell for anyone who did not fit their definition of perfect.
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madmusic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 10:59 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. The first time I ever heard of eugenics was here...
Edited on Sun Dec-10-06 11:02 PM by madmusic
And the poster recommended that book. I bought it and it pissed me off. Powerful book. Garland E. Allen says a new eugenics is afoot (not an arm though).

Is a New Eugenics Afoot?


One major response to these problems was Progressivism, a movement that began in the industrial sector. Its ideas were used to address the root causes of economic and social problems in all aspects of society. Eugenics fit perfectly with Progressive ideology. Eugenicists were scientifically trained experts who sought to apply rational principles to solving the problems of antisocial and problematic behavior by seeking out the cause, in this case poor heredity. The best schooling and social training--like the best soil--was of no avail if hereditary constitution was defective. Eugenicists were to be the "managers" of the human germ plasm, in the progressive spirit, and would take control of human evolution. Eugenicists often portrayed themselves as efficiency experts, helping to save society millions of dollars by sterilizing defectives so that the state would not have to care for their offspring. In both the United States and Germany, such economic arguments were central to eugenic propaganda. In Germany, where economic conditions in the depression era of the 1930s were considerably worse than elsewhere, saving the state money became one of the dominant themes in eugenic arguments for euthanasia, when even supporting those who were sterilized became too expensive.

What does this historical account tell us about our genetic and reproductive decisions today, at a time when hopes are high for the application of new genetic technology to both medical and social problems? Is a new eugenics afoot?

The early 20th-century eugenics movement was a product of a particular economic, social, and scientific context: a highly transitional period in American economic and industrial expansion, the advent of a new genetic paradigm, and the ideology of rational management by scientifically trained experts. As historian Sheila Weiss has emphasized, there was enough logic to the eugenic argument--saving the hard-pressed taxpayer the burden of supporting masses of supposedly defective people--to give it popular appeal. For a segment of the biological community, it provided career opportunities that could be justified as the application of their science directly to the solution of social problems. For the wealthy benefactors that supported eugenics, such as the Carnegie, Rockefeller, Harriman, and Kellogg philanthropies, eugenics provided a means of social control in a period of unprecedented upheaval and violence. It was these same economic elites and their business interests who introduced scientific management and organizational control into the industrial sector.

I would argue that we are poised at the threshold of a similar period in our own history and are adopting a similar mind frame as our predecessors. A "bottom line" mentality is rapidly becoming our guidepost. It is unlikely that we will see a return to blatant demands for sterilization, but the requirement of antifertilization medication for continued welfare benefits in the U.S., and bitter anti-immigration sentiment in southwestern U.S. and Europe are haunting reminders that we are not immune to the prejudices of our predecessors. In 1994 (The Bell Curve) we saw the resurrection of claims that there are genetic differences in intelligence between races, leading to different socio-economic status. Claims about the genetic basis for criminality, manic depression, risk-taking, alcoholism, homosexuality, and a host of other behaviors have also been rampant in scientific and especially popular literature. Much of the evidence for such claims is as controversial today as in the past.

We seem to be increasingly unwilling to accept what we view as imperfection in ourselves and others. As health care costs skyrocket, we are coming to accept a bottom-line, cost-benefit analysis of human life. This mind-set has serious implications for reproductive decisions. If a health maintenance organization (HMO) requires in utero screening, and refuses to cover the birth or care of a purportedly "defective" child, how close is this to eugenics? If gene or drug therapy is substituted for improving our workplace or school environments, our diets and our exercise practices, how close is this to eugenics? Significant social changes are expensive, however. If eugenics means making reproductive decisions primarily on the basis of social cost, then we are well on that road.

The author is in the Department of Biology, Washington University, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA. E-mail:

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jwirr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 11:06 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Yes, I really fear what will be the reaction when some large
catastrophe hits us here in the US. Global warming is very likely going to force us to look at these issues. In some ways it already is. When the drought of the last years continues and people start moving north to escape the heat and lack of water then what? Or has it already become an issue called illegal immigrants?
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madmusic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-11-06 12:52 PM
Response to Reply #5
10. You mean the great equalizer?
Let's hope it is not so severe there isn't time for any thinking at all. You make a good point though, and the Great Depression was a reminder that environment matters. The Right has been trying to turn that around ever since even though they may have been in the soup lines or jumping out of buildings in despair.

The KKK essay is also interesting. How do freepers think? They don't. That doesn't mean their conclusions are racial or genetic though, and probably only means they have an authoritarian personalty itself shaped by environment.
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roamer65 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 11:10 PM
Response to Original message
6. Warren "Teapot Dome" Harding.
Now there's a real loser of a pResident. I think Raisinbrain has him beat, however.
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Manifestor_of_Light Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-11-06 01:04 AM
Response to Reply #6
8. Don't forget the daughter conceived in a broom closet
Harding conceived a daughter in a broom closet of the white house with his mistress Nan Britton.
She wrote a book called "The President's Daughter" which is available online to read.

My dad was from NE Ohio and was in grade school/high school in the 1920s. He said that illegitimate child was the big scandal of the day and the high school gym teacher carried a copy of that book under his arm with a brown paper wrapper on it!!

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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-11-06 12:59 AM
Response to Original message
7. The similarities between the 00s and the 1920s are more then coincidence.
Accoring to a book on American history I have read called The Fourth Turning there is a 80-year long, 4-phase cyclical pattern in the national mood.

During an Awakening, rising adults are driven by inner zeal to become philosophers, religious pundits, and hippies, alienating children (who see the adult world becoming more chaotic each day) and older generations alike. Civil order comes under attack from a new values regime. Examples of Awakening eras include the Protestant Reformation (1517-1542), the Puritan Awakening (1621-1649), the Great Awakening (1727-1746), the Second Great Awakening (1822-1844), the Third Great Awakening (1886-1908), and the Consciousness Revolution (1964-1984).

An Unraveling is an era between and Awakening and a Crisis. The most recent Unraveling was seen between The Consciousness Revolution and the present, a time of paradigm shifting.

A Crisis is a decisive era of secular upheaval. The values regime propels the replacement of the old civic order with a new one. Wars are waged with apocalyptic finality. Examples of Crisis eras include the Wars of the Roses (1459-1487), the Spanish Armada Crisis (1569-1594), the colonial Glorious Revolution (1675-1704), the War for American Independence (1773-1794), the American Civil War (1860-1865),and the twin emergencies of the Great Depression and World War II (1929-1945).

A High is an era between a Crisis and an Awakening. The most recent High was seen between World War II and The Consciousness Revolution.

We are currently transitioning from an Unraveling to a Crisis.
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madmusic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-11-06 01:31 AM
Response to Reply #7
9. Or 9/11, Iraq, BushCo and the neocons was the crisis...
Let's hope the next president can convince the world this isn't a religious war. If possible, we may move into a high.
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RedStateShame Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-11-06 12:59 PM
Response to Original message
11. Surely a new Lost Generation is in the works
Returning from a war to find that the freedoms you fought for on behalf of the world no longer exist in one's own country...sound familiar?
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