Assignment: Hitler's American Model
Text Book: Hitler's American Model- The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law by James Q. Whitman
1. How was German citizenship defined under the Nuremberg Laws? By race fluid? (called ‘blood quantum' in the United States since 1705...) Why did the "Blood Law" not solve the issue of who was to be counted as a Jew?
2. What is "Jewish blood"? Is it a race fluid? Are there ‘race fluid' detectors? Do you see race fluid with your eyes?
3. Explain: "for America, citizenship and miscegenation were both critical to interwar [between WWI and WWII] race law. Segregation was only part of it" (p. 32).
4. Did you know that before the 1967 Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court decision it was illegal, often a felony, for a white person to marry a person of color in thirty of the states of the United States? If you have never seen or heard of anti-miscegenation legislation before (or even if you have), how did reading the Maryland statute on p. 79 make you feel? (by the way, your professor was born in 1973 in Maryland,six years after this race fluid-based marriage law was overturned).
5. America's first anti-miscegenation legislation (no mixing of races allowed by law) was passed in 1691, in colonial Virginia. Is race still an important issue in Virginia today, even at this very moment?
6. Did you know that all of U.S. immigration, naturalization, and citizenship laws were about race, from day one of the first Congress (1787-1791)? The Naturalization Act of 1790 allowed "any alien, being a free white person" to be granted U.S. citizenship the moment they steppedinto U.S. territory, but forbid slaves, indentured servants, Native Americans, Africans, and Asians from ever becoming a citizen (literally no path to citizenship). Comment.
7. The 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act was the first Federal immigration legislation to prevent members of a specific racial, ethnic, or national group from immigrating to the U.S. (where, by the way, ‘Chinese nationals' could still not legally become citizens). The main rhetorical argument used at the time against Chinese immigrants was that they stole jobs from white people, worked for lower wages (unfair competition), and were ‘degenerate'criminals, drug dealers, human traffickers, gangsters, rapists (of white women) and, well, ‘monsters'. Does this rhetoric from a century and a half ago sound at all familiar to you?
8. Explain: "early twentieth century America was the global leader in race law, admired around the world for the vigor of its legislation" (p. 34).
9. The U.S. Congress passed major immigration reform legislation in 1917,1921, and 1924. All of these new immigration laws were race- (whites only) and eugenics-based (e.g., no LGBT folks, no mentally or physically disabled, no anarchists, no poor people or other ‘undesirables', etc.), and openly favored middle class Protestant northern and western European immigrants while banning nearly all people from everywhere else in the world from ever entering the country legally (pp. 35-36). Comment.
10. How did the British Empire (esp. Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa) close up the "gaps in the ring fence which has been erected in the last 50 years [1886-1936] by the United States and the Dominions in order to exclude non-Europeans" (p. 36)?
11. What was the difference between a ‘national' (e.g., Native American, Puerto Rican, Filipino, and African American in U.S. history) and a ‘citizen' (p. 38, cf. Nazi-era German citizen vs. Jew on p. 29), and why is deciding which categories of people fit where "the prerogative of a great colonial power" (p. 38)? How did colonizers and imperialists use ‘race' in this way to justify and maintain their colonial and imperial systems?
12. Why did the conclusion of the Spanish-American war in 1898 cause a constitutional crisis in the United States and how was it resolved (pp. 40-41)?
13. What, again, is a ‘non-citizen national'? How was America "pioneering a range of race-based second-class citizenship" (p. 43) in the late 19th and early 20th centuries?
14. Does this sound in any way familiar to you: "nationals of foreign countries (non-citizens) must be expelled from the Reich" (p. 44)?
15. Explain Hitler's critique of ‘birth citizenship' in Mein Kampf(1925)-especially how he suggests that U.S. (race fluid-based) laws could be a solution to interwar German problems.
16. Why did the United States congress feel the need (according to Hitler in Mein Kampf) "to exclude the ‘foreign body' of ‘strangers to the blood' of the ruling race; that was the felt need that was expressed in their immigration legislation" (p. 46)? Or, do you think Hitler was misreading the intent of U.S. immigration laws here?
17. Explain: "Hitler was proclaiming his admiration for the American conquest of the West, where the Americans had ‘gunned down the millions of Redskins to a few hundred thousand'; this too, he said offered yet another ‘Nordic' example that the Europeans would do well to follow... for Hitler, America was ‘the model of a state organized on principles of Rasse and Raum', on principles of race and the acquisition of territory for a racially defined Volk... Hitler regarded America of the 1920s, with unapologetically race-based immigration legislation and its epic ‘Aryan' colonization of the West, as a ‘race state' that deserved admiration" (p. 47).
18. Explain: "what is [Jim Crow] lynch justice, if not the natural resistance of the Volk to an alien race that is attempting to gain the upper hand? Most of the states of the Union have special laws directed against the Negroes, which limit their voting rights, freedom of movement, and career possibilities. For a while, there was a plan to create a Negro reservation in the Southern states, similar to the Indian reservations" (p. 65).
19. U.S. Senator Theodore Bilbo said, in 1938, "one drop of Negro blood placed in the veins of the purest Caucasian destroys the inventive genius of his mind and palsies his creative faculty" (p. 77). Comment.
20. Why is it so ironic that Nazi lawyers "found American law on mongrelization too harsh to be embraced by the Third Reich... American race law simply went too far for Germany to follow" (p. 80)?
21. Explain: "the young Nazi lawyer, profiting from his year of research in the law library at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, presented a careful and learned review of the history of American Indian law... it simply had to be understood as a species of race law, founded in the unacknowledged conviction that Indians were racially different and necessarily subject to a distinct legal regime. The article makes for sinister reading, in light of Nazi history: setting up a distinct legal/racial regime for the Jews was of course the core idea of the Nuremberg Laws, and the American treatment of the Indians was later to be invoked as a precedent for German conquests in the East. What horror we all ought to feel when we learn that Hans Frank [Hitler's personal lawyer, Governor-Generalofoccupied Poland, executedin 1946 for war crimes and crimes against humanity] referred to the Jews of Ukraine as ‘Indians' in 1942" (p. 115-116).
22. Many Nazis loved, indeed hero-worshipped, the Founding Fathers of the United States, especially Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. Why? (pp. 116-117). Did anyone ever mention this to you in your prior education?
23. What was the ‘One drop rule' (codified in U.S. state laws) and why did Nazi lawyers find this horrifying and way too harsh (pp. 127-128)? What ratio of Jewish ‘race fluid' did the Nuremberg Laws fixate on, and why?
24. Explain: "seeing America through Nazi eyes does tell us things we did not know, or had not fully reckoned with-things about the nature and dimension of American racism, and things about the place of America in the larger world history of racism... in the early twentieth century the United States was not just a country with racism.It was the leading racist jurisdiction-so much so that even Nazi Germany looked to America for inspiration" (pp. 137-138).
25. Explain: "that is the truth, and we cannot squirm away from it. It was American immigration, citizenship, and anti-miscegenation law that the Nazis cited over and over again. It was American Jim Crow... it was the American criminalization of racially mixed marriage that was the forerunner of the Blood Law. It was the American conquest of the West that Nazis invoked so often while engaged in the murderous campaigns of the 1940s... when the Nazis set out to build a racist order, they turned to America first to see what sort of models they could find" (pp. 139-140).
26. When President Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) said that we wanted to keep "the temperate zones of the new and the newest worlds a heritage for white people" (p. 141), what, exactly, did he mean?
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