Then a bold manifesto, echoing a familiar campaign slogan: “We believe […] that we have the right to make America American and for Americans” in a nation “disorganized and helpless before the invasion of aliens and alien ideas.”
He went on: liberals have become “wholly academic, lost all touch with the plain people, disowned its instincts and common sense” because they believe “those who can produce should carry the unfit.” Worst of all, this has risen to a terrible momentum, attacking our heritage as bigoted instead of noble, racist instead of honored. “This became a world without moral standards.”
Each of these quotes is from Hiram Wesley Evans’s 1926 article in North American Review, “The Klan’s Fight for Americanism.” Evans was the imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan in that decade and its great proselytizer, the Fox News commentator of his day.
Yet the words sound recent. A 2022 poll from the University of Massachusetts Amherst found 66 percent of Republicans accept “white replacement theory,” agreeing wholly or partly with the claim that “the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate with voters from poorer countries around the world.” Florida’s lieutenant governor has openly accused Disney of “indoctrinating” and “sexualizing children” with its “not secret agenda.”
Ideas carry enormous weight — and often violence. Hitler believed the United States was “a decayed country […] Everything about the behavior of American society reveals that it’s half Judaised, and the other half negrified.” On December 12, 1941, the day after he declared war on the United States, Hitler predicted that all Jews worldwide “would experience their annihilation.” With the world war finally underway, “the annihilation must be the necessary consequence.”
Like a gardener on the lookout for weeds, Americans — those who truly seek to uphold democracy — must recognize danger on our shores and deal with it, perennially.
Robert A. Slayton is the Henry Salvatori Professor of American Values and Traditions in the Department of History at Chapman University.
Featured image: "Tear Gas outside United States Capitol 20210106" by Tyler Merbler is licensed under CC BY 2.0.