For some time in the past century, the issue of racism emphasized color or race. However, it included religion in many cases. This attitude, which has subsided for some time, is making a strong comeback in many countries, foremost among them the United States, the world’s principal superpower. This study comments on the current racial ideas and compares them with ideas of a similar nature that were prevalent in the early twentieth century. It focuses on comparing the thinking of US President Donald Trump today with that of Lothrop Stoddard, known for his interest in the Muslim world, around the time of World War I and immediately after it.
Most civilizations that saw themselves as having acquired a certain “advancement” vis-à-vis other civilizations, at a certain historical stage, speak about their superiority and link it to one or several fixed, geographical, religious, or racial factors. Such civilizations tend to look down on other geographical areas and civilizations from a high standpoint and try to explain the “inferiority” of others as emanating from a certain essentialist difference between them (Al-Azmeh 1992; Ibrahim 2001).
Imagined cultural presentations dominant in the medieval period were supposed to have become outdated or depassé and were allegedly unimportant in modern and contemporary periods. This has not been the case among a group of Western politicians and intellectuals, and especially so with the spokesmen of modern Western civilization who have tried to link Western scientific progress with the West’s right, or rather duty, to colonize other non-Western countries through what the French used to term as a “mission civilisatrice” (a civilizing mission).
The “inferior other” is evident in the expressions of the current US President, Donald Trump, who used the derogatory term “shithole” when referring to African countries (Washington Post, January 18, 2018), demonizing Mexicans as rapists when associating the latter with sexual crimes against children (Business Insider, January 13, 2019) and using language of hate in referring to African-Americans. In July 2019, Trump told American-born congresswomen of color to go back to the countries they came from (NYTI, July 16, 2019, 6). He subsequently stepped up his attacks on those four liberal democrats in congress—all women of color—who criticized his policies, calling on them to apologize to America and Israel as he himself faced charges of racism (Daily Star, Beirut, July 22, 2019, 1).
Anyone familiar with Trump’s ideology and some of the American extreme right elite and populist circles would not find such remarks surprising. In the nineteenth century the idea of building a wall separating American states that allowed slavery and the “free states” who did not was seriously discussed and considered.
In fact, the concepts of “race,” “class,” “religion,” and “color” do have boundaries between each other. Each concept can be treated independently. However, “Power discrepancy” between states and groups has made it possible for those who represent colonial thinking to link these concepts together for political reasons and explain the generally acknowledged reasons for the superiority of one group as not being due to its headway in education and intellect or to its abundant and superior material resources, or both, but by attributing this “superiority” to one or more of the aforementioned concepts.
It is strange that Trump in a tweet in mid-January 2019 linked the danger of Mexican immigrants to the United States to Islam, even though the immigrants in question were predominantly Christian. He wrongly alleged that those immigrants were carrying praying rugs with them so as to give them an Islamic character at a time when Islamophobia was on the rise in America (Rupar 2019). Whatever the case, the US president’s thinking cannot be linked to a specific racist theory since his remarks are all too often haphazard, incoherent, and selective and do not follow any intelligible method even though his thinking reveals how he depicts other “non-white” people.
Although Charles Darwin rejected the theory of absolute continuity and allowed for internal development within each race, numerous theories on race have spread in the modern world. The crux of most of them was a belief in racial or religious essentialism that traced clear boundaries between different races and religions, since each race or religion was supposed to have specific inherited properties and permanent cerebral abilities.
When European countries were colonizing other peoples in Asia and Africa and insisting on a racial hierarchy between the European and non-European peoples, the theory of race became widespread. Nonetheless, it is important to clarify here one exception to this rule: the anti-Semitism that targeted the Jews who were residing in Europe when Semitic–Asian roots were emphasized linking the Semitic race and the Jewish religion (Banton 1998). Lord Balfour fused the two concepts of Semitism and Judaism with Palestine in his 1917 declaration. It is important to recall that in 1862, the French philosopher Ernest Renan had already drawn a link between Islam and Semitism when he wrote: “Islam is the annoying simplification of Semitic thought” (Laurens 2013, 314). The entire situation began to change when the Jewish religion became linked to Protestant Anglican fundamentalism in Britain and North America, and when Europe’s guilt in the aftermath of the Holocaust brought about an important transformation after World War II granting “the Israelis,” who had been hitherto oppressed by Europe, special international privileges, while the Arabs became regarded as outlaws and became the oppressed (Abdel-Malek 1963).
Note that in the United States, the highest point in this racial hierarchy is defined by color, with “white” being at the top of the list in relation to other races/colors. This has become known as “white nationalism” and/or “Christian nationalism” and is connected to fundamentalist Anglican organizations which reappeared politically before and after the election in 2017 of Trump as US president. Although this trend stresses a different kind of discrimination, since it is mainly directed at immigrants from Asia, Africa, and Central and South America to the United States and Europe, it is not new. Those who are part of this trend became so emboldened that they express their ideology openly, so much so that Steve Bannon, former assistant to President Trump, addressed a crowd of sympathizers in France by saying: “Be proud if they call you racists” (Nossiter 2018).
The usage of this theory in International Relations has not been widespread since the trend tended to see that the major factor in human affairs was not politics, but race, and that the political phenomena alone did not stand for much (Stoddard 1921, 82). Proponents of the theory seek to emphasize the political factor as the disabling “weakness” that characterizes the white race in its efforts at controlling other countries. This trend was not known in the Arab world since it was seen as an extension of the same racist thinking that dominates the political and military centers in the outside world. Still, if we restrict the present study to the United States alone, it is easily visible that the black African race is perceived as representing a threat to the white race.1 It would seem that supporters of this opinion extended the reach of their internal ideology after World War I, since they believed that modern civilization attached to the “white” West was threatened by “colored” people, including the “blacks,” “browns,” and “yellows,” as they described them. Moreover, this thesis was operative before that time and before WWI in American foreign policy. Robert Vitalis, Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania, discovered, while researching the beginnings of American foreign policy, that such a policy was constructed on the foundations of racial segregation and that the first academic journal in the field, at the beginning of the twentieth century, Foreign Affairs (founded in 1910 and published until 1919) was entitled Journal of Race Development. This revelation prompted Vitalis to delve further into the subject, and he was able finally to publish his White World Order, Black Power Politics: The Birth of American International Relations (2015). Vitalis believes that here lay the basis of the thinking of later intellectuals such as Samuel Huntington who wrote The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (1996) after the Cold War ended between the socialist and capitalist blocs. The author holds that this current intellectual/political trend resurfaced at the end of the 1990s.
LOTHROP STODDARD: A SURPRISE
What is really surprising is that one of the early theorists of this intellectual trend was the American writer Lothrop Stoddard and author of The New World of Islam (1921/1922a). When this book was first published, the Arabs and Muslims took pride in it and gave it utmost praise. The Palestinian writer Ajaj Nuwihid translated it and the politically active Arabist and Islamist Amir Shakib Arslan wrote lengthy remarks and footnotes equaling the size of the book itself in explaining some of its aspects. The Arabic edition was published in 1925 under the Arabic title Hadir al-’alam al-Islami (The Muslim World at the Present), and the translation went into five editions, the last of which was as recent as 2009. It was welcomed by Arabs and Muslims since it did not carry by itself clear negative stances vis-à-vis the Arabs and Muslims, as did some of his other publications; rather, in this book Stoddard made a general survey of the Arab and Muslim past and present. That is why it was hard for the two Arabs who translated and reviewed it to understand the then position of Stoddard in American racist thinking and why they did not put the aforementioned book in the context of all of his publications, the most important of which was The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy (1920). One might agree with Duncan Macdonald (Macdonald 1922, 538–39) that Stoddard’s objective in his book about the Muslim world was to survey the economic and social changes that had taken place in the Muslim world that the United States should be aware of, and of its peril. It was in another book that the author revealed his fear of the Muslim world, or the “brown” race as he uses the term:
A potential brown menace to white race areas would, indeed, arise in the case of a brown–yellow alliance against the white peoples…the brown world’s emancipation from white domination would apparently not result in more than local pressures on white race areas. It would, however, affect another sphere of white political control—black Africa. The emancipation of brown, Islamic North Africa would inevitably…stir both Mohammedan and pagan Negroes against white rule. Islam is, in fact, the intimate link between the brown and black worlds.(Stoddard 1921, 85–86)
It is crucial to point out that this fear of non-Western peoples took place after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917, and may be one important reason for their fear that other peoples could follow suit, and why Bolshevism was discussed as a race and a class by Stoddard, as shall be shown below.
At any rate, the present article describes Stoddard’s special thinking that emphasizes the borders between race, class, and religion at certain junctures, but does not recognize these borders at others. It also traces Stoddard’s blurred lines between the qualitative superiority of the white race and the fear of the quantitative superiority of the other races, or the fear of the “superior race” of the “inferior race” since the former’s naturally born superiority—as he believes—does not make him secure, but makes him fearful of the possibility of it being revolted against by other races that are more numerous, but less “developed.” It is interesting that during the time when all or most peoples of these races were under colonization by the “white race”—if we use Stoddard’s own expression—he perceived those races as representing a huge danger, especially if a certain alliance took place between two or more of them. He is fearful of the declining ratio of the white race in comparison with non-whites, a process he thinks started at the end of the fifteenth century (146–47).
Stoddard’s general thinking and his philosophy regarding modern civilization in its entirety has not been much discussed in the literature. If discussed today, it would be appalling to see to what extent his thesis is incoherent, since it treats each of the concepts within a context that totally ignores the political, social, and cultural factors of non-Western European and North American peoples. In fact, Stoddard advances a complex racial thesis in several books that he published in the 1920s after World War I. His central point is that civilization rests in an absolute way on quality that rests, in turn, on inheritance for any race. He stipulates that climate may have a role in defining the human character, but that it is inheritance that defines that role. Stoddard adamantly refuses the circular theory of the rise and then fall of a certain civilization after a certain period (similar to Ibn Khaldun’s theory) and its replacement by a stronger or superior civilization. For him, a civilization is a different creature since it does not have a cycle of life and death. If it can produce enough superior elements, then this superior civilization will be characterized by continuity and eternal survival.
Stoddard was a student of the racist professor Madison Grant (1865–1937) who lectured in anthropology at Harvard University and was president of New York Zoology Society. He was also a member of the board of directors of the Natural History Museum and the American Geographical Society. He wrote The Passing of the Great Race; or the Racial Basis of European History (1916). This may cast some doubt on the announcement of Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services and a top official in President’s Trump administration, that the verse about immigrants on the Statue of Liberty was about people from Europe exclusively (Lennihan 2019).
In fact, and as one example, Grant was interested in European history and especially its racial divisions given that most immigrants to America during that period came from either Italy or Ireland or East European countries that were considered racially inferior to the US population at that time. He upheld the theory that the white people of Western Europe origin were “superior” to people of Eastern Europe and, obviously, non-white people living in other parts of the world. Grant divided the white Europeans according to their original locations and their skin complexions into three different races: the Nordic (the most superior), followed by the Alpine and by the Mediterranean. The superior Nordic race can be differentiated by its relatively long shape of the head, blond hair, height, fair skin, straight nose, and blue eyes. He held that these characteristics reflected rational as well as spiritual superiority.
Stoddard is at one with his mentor regarding this racial hierarchy. However, he makes the point that the “Nordic race” is under threat because of the intermarriage of some of its members with lesser races, whose numbers were on the rise in the United States due to immigration at the beginning of the twentieth century. Stoddard explains that each race has a group of physical, cultural, and spiritual components. Thus, the physical characteristics are not the only inherited characteristics, but so also are morals and intelligence the product of inherited genes. He emphasized this idea in his The Revolt Against Civilization: The Menace of the Under Man (1922b) since he connected race with ideas, saying: “the Bolsheviks are mostly born and not made” (224). In this, he was influenced by the sociologist Max Nordau, who initiated this idea in an elaborate way (Burgess 2011, 137). Both believed that the unwanted ideologies in the United States, such as socialism and anarchism, are an expression of physical sickness. As the French historian Joseph Gobineau, author of Essay on inequality of races (1853–55) who was believed to be the representative of “scientific racism,” held that the French Revolution in 1789 was a racial and not a class war, Stoddard argued that the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917 was a racial war that had nothing to do with class. Given this, it can be concluded that both tried to efface the boundaries between class and race, and that, according to them, the superior race is represented by the high aristocratic class, while the enslaved race is represented by the low working class. Bolshevism—one of the rebellions of the under-man—has an Asiatic strand, according to him, and thus was set to destroy Western civilization (Stoddard 1922b, 212–13).
Stoddard had published his first book on the subject entitled The Rising World of Color Against White World Supremacy (1920). His second book, The Revolt Against Civilization: The Menace of the Under Man (1922b), came two years later. It is obvious that the title of the latter gives a clearer idea about the theory advanced by the author and ill-boding chapter titles in the contents are as follows: 1. The Burden of Civilization; 2. The Iron Law of Inequality; 3. The Nemesis of the Inferior; 4. The Lure of the Primitive; 5. The Ground-Swell of Revolt; 6. The Rebellion of the Under-Man; 7. The War against Chaos; and 8. Neo-Aristocracy. In his explanation of the chapter “The Iron Law of Inequality,” Stoddard believes that the idea of “natural equality” is one of the most pernicious delusions that has ever afflicted mankind.” Equality is, in his opinion, just “a figment of human imagination” (30). Nature does not know equality and “The evolution of life is the most striking instance of this fundamental truth. Evolution is a process of differentiation—of increasing differentiation—from the simple one-celled bit of protoplasm to the infinitely differentiated, complex life forms of the present day” (30). However, Stoddard proceeds to confuse his notions about differences between species when he says that the evolutionary process is not merely quantitative, but is qualitative as well, and the successive differentiations imply increasing inequalities. And he says: “Nobody but a madman could seriously contend that the microscopic speck of protoplasmic jelly floating in the tepid waters…was ‘equal’ to a human being” (30). Furthermore, individual inequalities steadily increase and “[t]he innate differences between members of a low-grade savage tribe are as nothing compared with the abyss sundering the idiot and the genius who coexist in a high-grade civilization” (31).
On another point, Stoddard thinks that we should distinguish between two aspects of inferiority: physical and mental. About the former, he believes that physically the human species enjoys equality and humanity does not appear to be threatened with extinction. It is mental inferiority that concerns him. He holds: “[t]he special traits of intelligence which distinguish man from animals appeared only a few hundred thousand years ago, and have developed strongly only in a few human stocks. Biologically speaking, therefore, high intelligence is a very recent trait, which is still comparatively rare and which may be easily lost” (30, 89). In contrast, he makes the point that mentally inferior savage and barbarian races are physically vigorous and possess an animal vitality greater than that of the mentally of superior races. He gives the example of the Negroes and the people of the Mediterranean, “whose loss of ancient mental greatness has been accompanied by no corresponding physical decline” (89). Although Stoddard does not explicitly mention this, the Arabs belong to this category.
In his first book, The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy (1920), the titles of the chapters clearly designate four colors for the different races. He begins with a chapter on “The World of Color,” then speaks of: “The Yellow Man’s Land”; “The Brown Man’s Land”; “The Black Man’s Land”; and “The Red Man’s Land.” The reader can get confused when he reads one of the points referred to by Stoddard, since he mentions that there are superiors and inferiors within each race. Thus, he leaves behind his theory about the inevitable or near inevitable racial superiority pointing out that the “white race” is not superior in everything it engages in, as what happened in the Russo-Japanese War in 1904–05 when Asiatic Japan defeated European Russia, although the latter was thought to be definitely superior to the yellow race (Stoddard 1921, 22–23). In that episode the “yellow” or “Mongol” race represented the best of what humanity had instead of representing what it feared. Was the author diverging from his initial theory here and giving priority to superior achievement rather than to the superior race? It is true that he spoke about superior individuals within each race, but the Russo-Japanese War was not a war between individuals. Instead, it was a confrontation between two different states and societies or, using his terminology, between two “races.” For him, the Arabs and Muslims in the “Brown Man’s land” enjoy geographical diversity unlike the secluded “yellow” world. This “Brown Man’s land” land proved to be a series of melting-pots. Here we have a different picture since many colors coexist: “Turks are largely white; others, like the southern Indians and Yemenite Arabs, are largely black; while still others, like the Himalayan and Central Asian peoples, have much yellow blood.” Although there is no generalized brown culture such as those possessed by the “yellows” and “whites,” there is a fundamental bond of solidarity between them and they show, at present, a strong reaction against (Western) “white” supremacy (54–56).
In an interesting observation, Stoddard describes World War I as a “civil war” between different streams of the white race because it was essentially a European war, but this drives him to fear that it will lead to weaken that distinguished race and open the gate for the dominance of other non-white races. While the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche used the term “Uberman” or “Superman” to describe the individual who carries the will to power and superiority, Stoddard used the term “under-man” in The Revolt Against Civilization (1922b, 23), giving it a class definition and to illustrate that the common people are lesser in status in comparison with the educated elite or with those who excel in performing their work. This is why, for example, he finds a link between the “under-man” and the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, seeing that that revolution represented, in his opinion, the multitudes of people or that its ideal was the general public. He also thinks that this populace can be transformed into a mob with whom reason cannot be employed: “[…] Bolshevism is essentially a destructive, retrogressive movement” (Stoddard, 1922b, 181). However, he reconsiders and says that employing the common people to help the elite is useful if leadership were in the hands of the latter, not the former. For him, the Bolsheviks in Russia represented the revolution of the low class and the low race, especially that it itself says that it represents the proletariat which is the industrial working class.
Although there are numerous contradictory points in Stoddard’s works, he specifies several points as he perceives them in his The Revolt Against Civilization (1922b) and in the chapter “The Iron Law of Inequality”: (1) the old “Native American” stock, favorably selected as it was from the races of Northern Europe, is the most superior element in the American population; (2) subsequent immigrants from Northern Europe, though coming from substantially the same racial stocks, were less favorably selected and average somewhat less superior; (3) the more recent immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe average decidedly inferior to the North European elements; and (4) Negroes are inferior to all other elements (62–63).
Stoddard published the results of experiments conducted on several hundred school children in primary grades and drew up the correlation of intelligence quotient (IQ) to racial origin, economic–social status, and intelligence (Table 1). Even if the figures in Table 1 were accurate, there is no way to distinguish the racial element from the socio-economic element and the educational level of the parents of the children in question. Thus, they cannot be treated as scientific indicators of the different racial groups in the United States or the world at large.
In The Revolt Against Civilization (1922b), Stoddard then deals with what he terms “the lure of the primitive,” saying that the revolt against civilization goes deeper than is supposed and “however elaborate may be the modern doctrines of revolt, they are merely conscious ‘rationalizing’ of an instinctive urge which arises from the emotional depths” (125). Furthermore, “we are now coming to realize that, besides ‘progress,’ there is ‘regress’; that going forward is no more ‘natural’ than going backward […and] that both movements are secondary phenomena, depending primarily upon the character of the human stocks” (125) Although the author divides what he calls the revolt against civilization into three stages: (1) destructive criticism of the existing order; (2) revolutionary theorizing and agitation; and (3) revolutionary action, he nevertheless bestows special importance on the first stage since he thinks it glorifies the primitive and “blends with its condemnation of the present an idealization of what it conceives to have been the past” (127). This explains, for Stoddard, the popularity of a philosopher such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau on whom the author looks down upon and describes as “neurotic, mentally unstable, morally weak, and sexually perverted,” although he recognizes that he possessed great literary talent (128). He mistakenly reads Rousseau’s works, thinking that the latter was impressed by “noble savagery,” was against civilization, and that he believed that the road to salvation lay in the “return to nature.” Thus, for Rousseau, “the primitive man was happy and lived in virtuous harmony with his fellows till he became corrupted by the restraints and vices of civilization—especially the vice of private property” (128–29). Stoddard viciously attacks Rousseau because he thought the latter wanted us to go back to the “primitive man” and “the state of nature” that existed before civilization by eliminating private property. He did not understand that, in fact, Rousseau wanted in his Social Contract to combine the fruits of civilization, on the one hand, and morality and man’s freedom, on the other. He also criticizes the celebrated Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy, who could have fallen under the spell of Rousseau and felt an aversion to civilization and a love for the primitive. For him, Tolstoy’s novel The Cossacks (1863) was an expression of “the superiority of the life of a beast of the field” (Stoddard 1922b, 131). Tolstoy was described as been influenced by Arthur Schopenhauer, the philosopher of pessimism and he explained in his A Confession (1882) that he envied the peasant his lack of learning and the limited affairs he takes care of (Stoddard 1922b, 131).
On the issue of the Bolshevik Revolution, Stoddard believes that it was an “instinctive reaction against the attempt to civilize Russia since Peter the Great (1682–1725) and his successors,” and that the Russians are composed of a group of primitive races, some of which are the Tatar and the Asiatic nomad elements who have always shown an instinctive anti-civilizational character. Economists have expressed surprise that Bolshevism should have established itself in Russia since it was expected to take place in a developed capitalist country. Stoddard argues that it was a perfectly natural event because it reflected the revolt of the inferior race against the superior race.
In what is related to Muslims, whether Arabs or non-Arabs, Stoddard writes about them as if they come from a single race, even though they belong to a multiplicity of ethnic groups and are spread across Asia and Africa and, to a lesser degree, Europe. In a chapter entitled “The Brown Man’s Land” in his The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy (1920), Stoddard restricts the “Brown Man’s land” to the Near and Middle East. However, he believes that Islam is waiting for an opportunity to ally itself with another race in order to battle against the white race. It was ready to do so in 1904 by allying itself with Japan, when the latter was victorious over Russia, ignoring the fact that Japan was atheist and Christian Russia was ideologically closer to Islam.
The main problem with Stoddard is how he amalgamates politics, civilization, and religion. On the one hand, he is in agreement with the French orientalist and Minister of Colonies in the nineteenth century, Gabriel Hanotaux, who believed that Tripolitania’s (today’s Libya) strong resistance to the Italian invasion in 1911 took place because of the resistance of Islam as well. However, on the other hand, he describes that Italian onslaught as a Christian crusade campaign followed by another crusade in the Balkans in 1912–13. He changes the description of struggle between the colonizer and the colonized.
In his opinion the Muslims of the world do not ally themselves with those who suffer from Western colonization, but rather with those who suffer from the occupation of “Western civilization.” In the preface, Stoddard (1921, v–vi) points out that although the book deals primarily with the Muslim world, it necessarily includes the non-Muslim Hindu elements of India. For him, the Great War stirred Islam against the West and made it reach out to its Hindu, Buddhist, and Confucian Asiatic allies, so much so that the Chinese intellectual patriot Sun-Yat-Sen declared that the Chinese would never forget the assistance that their Muslim fellow countrymen rendered in the interest of order and liberty (73). Thus, what frightens the author most was the construction of a front of cooperation between the Muslim world and other “colored” people under colonization, even though this alliance did not materialize during World War I. He also warns against the alliance between the brown and yellow races or between the brown and black races, especially as he perceived Islam as the common bond between the brown and black races in Africa. In addition, and in a camouflaged signal of his encouragement to the settler colonization that France was undertaking in Algeria, he cites some English writers such as Meredith Townsend who believed that British colonization in India was feeble because the white element was not present there in satisfactory numbers and was the reason why the brown race instead dominated there.
Stoddard goes back to reiterate that the major factor in the issues that occupy man is race, not politics, since the latter is meaningless by itself and that is the weakness that confronts the political dominance of the white race vis-à-vis the brown race in the world. For him, France has somewhat a stronger position than Britain’s because the settler population of the former in North Africa (Algeria, Tunisia, and the Mediterranean coast) numbers one-sixth of the total population. However, in the region between Morocco and India, there is no white race presence. Thus, Britain could hesitate in defending the interests of the white race in its colonies because these interests are not essential, while France will not hesitate in using all its force defending its white racial presence in the areas it colonizes and where their number are close to 1 million people. This shows that Stoddard does not think that the struggle is merely a “holy struggle” between European Christianity and African and Asiatic Islam, but also a struggle to obliterate the white race.
In a chapter entitled “The Nemesis of the Inferior,” Stoddard, as a believer in the theory of race, divides races into black or Negro, red or Indian, yellow or Mongol, brown or Arab or Muslim, and white or Caucasian. Although the Caucasian race is the most superior, it is divided, in its turn, into other secondary or sub-races: Nordic, which prevails in Scandinavia; Germanic, which prevails in Germany and Central Europe; Alpine, which prevails in France; and Anglo-Saxon, which prevails in Britain and the United States. These sub-races are, in their turn, not equal: there is a hierarchy among them since the Anglo-Saxon and Nordic sub-races are superior to the others. The author points out that one of the indicators of relative primitiveness is the high birth rate of population, and that this can be clearly seen with Polish Americans and Polish Jews, Russians and Italians from the southern part of their countries, and also French Canadians. To illustrate this point, Stoddard cites the calculations made by the American biologist and eugenicist Charles Davenport, who stated: “at present rates of reproduction, 1,000 Harvard graduates of today would have only 50 descendants two centuries hence, whereas 1,000 Romanians today would have 100,000 descendants in the same space of time” (Stoddard 1922b, 113). Even if these figures are considered, neither Stoddard nor Davenport observed that they were comparing two different groups who are not educationally homogeneous, since he chose a group of Harvard graduates and compared them with ordinary citizens whose level of education was unknown.
Stoddard was a strong believer in eugenics, but his eugenic ideal was “an ever-perfecting super race.” “Not the ‘superman’ of Nietzsche, but a super race cleaning itself throughout by the elimination of its defects, and raising itself throughout by the cultivation of its qualities” (Stoddard 1922b, 262). Thus, he looks at establishing a “neo-aristocracy,” not in the political sense, but “to the broader sense as philosophies of life and conduct” (263). However, he also mentions that both democracy and aristocracy worked badly in practice; “democracy tending to produce a destructive, levelling equality, aristocracy tending to produce an unjust, oppressive inequality” (264). He concludes:
When…believers in race betterment are accused of being “undemocratic” they should answer: “Right you are!” Science, especially biology, has disclosed the falsity of certain ideas like “natural equality,” and the omnipotence of environment, on which the democratic concept is largely based. We aim to take the sound elements in both the traditional democratic and aristocratic philosophies and combine them in a higher synthesis—a philosophical view worthy of the race and civilization that we visualize.(266)
Other points made by the author may be cited as follows:
He speaks of the danger of levelling social revolutionary doctrines such as syndicalism, anarchism, and bolshevism, as superficially alluring, yet basically false and destructive, and that they are essentially the product of unsound thinking by unsound brains. He cites the sociologist Max Nordau:
who analyses the enormous harm done by the levelling of persons and doctrines, not only by rousing the degenerate elements, but also by leading astray vast numbers of average people, biologically normal enough, yet with intelligence not high enough to protect them against clever fallacies clothed in fervid emotional appeals.(103)
He wrote: “It is amazing how mankind has for ages been wasting its best efforts in the vain attempt to change existing individuals, instead of changing the race by determining which existing individuals should, and should not, produce the next generation” (107).
In the same vein, he wrote:
Our unprecedented racial impoverishment seems due, as already stated, to many causes, some old and others new. We have seen that the stressful complexity of high civilizations has always tended to eliminate superior stocks by diverting their energy from racial ends to individual or social ends, such as an increase of celibacy, late marriage, and fewer children. Most of the phenomena underlying these racially destructive phenomena can be grouped under two headings: the high cost of living and the cost of high living. Behind those two general phases stand a multitude of special factors, such as rising prices, higher standards, desire for luxury, social emulation, inefficient government, high taxation, and, last but not least, the pressure of ever-multiplying masses of low-grade, incompetent humanity, acting like sand in the social gears and consuming an ever-larger portion of the national wealth and energy for their charitable relief, doctoring, educating, policing, etc.(108–09)
One issue that irritates the author considerably is the “birth rate differential” between superior and inferior races. Birth rate is low in superior races, but high in inferior races, a development that will contribute, he says, to the demise of the superior (108–09). He is very concerned that the white population is proportionally weakening while colored people are gaining in strength. Facing the demographic pressure, his solution is eugenics, pure and simple.
not merely a war against our civilization; it is a war of the hand against the brain. For the first time since man was man there has been a definite schism between the hand and the head.…The under-men despise thought itself, save as an instrument of invention and production. Their guide is, not reason, but the “proletarian truth” of instinct and passion—the deeper self below the reason, whose sublimation is the mob.
He cites leftist George Sorel, “Man has genius only in the measure that he does not think” (175).
In another chapter with the ominous title of “The Rebellion of the Under-Man,” he believes that the Bolsheviks have done the work of the under-man who hates the bourgeoisie more than he hates the aristocracy, and “Bolshevism is ready to back Oriental ‘nationalist’ movements and to respect Oriental faiths and customs” (199, 214). I do not think there is a need to comment here.
Stoddard’s first book The French Revolution in San Domingo (1914) described the population of this Caribbean island (known later as Haiti)—a French colony when the French Revolution took place in 1789. For him, the poor local primitive Negro was attracted to the principles of the revolution that was calling for equality. It revolted against the French white aristocracy and the mulattos (the mixed race) that composed the middle class. Independence was declared and the white as well as the mulatto races were eradicated—a development that led to the establishment of the state of black Haiti where, according to Stoddard, began an underdeveloped and failed history because of the disappearance of the white and mulatto races.
On the other hand, in The Revolt Against Civilization (1922b), Stoddard perceives the Bolshevik Revolution not as a modern phenomenon, but as very old and formed from different elements of the low class and thus civilizational level, while destroying civilization was its objective. Stoddard calls for the eradication of low-level elements through eugenics. Although he stresses race when he tackles the black and yellow, he stresses culture and religion when he tackles the “brown,” which includes the Muslims and Arabs.
In his books including Re-forging America: The Story of our Nationhood (1927), Stoddard casts himself as an ultra-American nationalist. He believed that rescuing the United States is impossible without the dominance of the Anglo-Saxon race and those races allied with it and who immigrated before 1880. That is why he speaks positively about abolishing the slave trade that ended the import of Negros from Africa, and the 1924 laws that put a limit on permitting immigration from Eastern and Southern Europe. He pointed to what he believed: that those two steps would lead to a re-forging of the country while building it soundly and anew. This logic rested on the necessity of preserving white racial purity and was different from the logic of those who called to abolish the slave trade for humanitarian reasons.
Furthermore, his Racial Realities in Europe (1924) speaks of the vital importance of the racial factor in human affairs. Stoddard considers “race to be the basic element in the destinations of peoples.” Nonetheless, he quickly makes the point that other traditional factors such as soil, climate, ideals, and institutions do also play a role (“Foreword”). He treats other secondary European races (Nordic, Alpine, and Mediterranean) as “classes.” Although he wrote that the Germans belong to the Germanic race, they have mixtures of Nordic and Alpine races, a fact that diminishes their racial status. The same logic is used in the chapters “Disrupted Central Europe” and “The Balkan Flux” (Stoddard 1924).
The most significant elements in surveying all these ideas may be summarized in two basic points. First, the racist thesis expressed by the author of The Muslim World Today (Stoddard 1925) endeavored to replace the struggle of the colonized and weak nations against colonization with an imagined struggle against modern civilization, even though the central question explicitly posed by the colonized people through their mainstream intellectuals was whether and by what manner could modern Western civilization be adopted while simultaneously getting rid of economic and political colonization. However, Stoddard replaced enslavement with civilization and presented the rejection of colonization by non-white peoples with a rejection of modern civilization that happened to be mainly Western. This is a clear inversion of the truth and the exact opposite is correct. In other words, it is possible to deduce that the author equated colonization with civilization. The refusal of the former, according to him, was tantamount to refusing the latter. For Stoddard, they are conjoined twin brothers. His thinking, and indeed that of many Western racists, put the non-Western world in front of a strange equation: accepting colonization is accepting civilization! The second point was revealed by Grant in his introduction to Stoddard’s The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy (1920), when he wrote:
Democratic ideals among an homogeneous population of Nordic blood, as in England or America, is one thing, but it is quite another for the white man to share his blood with, or intrust his ideals to, brown, yellow, black, or red men. This is suicide pure and simple, and the first victim of this amazing folly will be the white man himself.(Stoddard 1921, xxxii)
In other words, this racist logic is dualistic since it says, first, that the non-white races, because of their inferiority, hate modern civilization; and second, that the superior white race should not allow these same non-white races to acquire modern civilization so that the white race and its superior ideals will not be contaminated. This is not a contradictory dualism since the two ideas walk hand in hand and in two parallel lines as they both serve the same objective. In spite of the fact that the non-white races do not seek and are incapable of adopting modern civilization, totally or partly, according to this analysis, the white race is not keen to provide modern civilization to others. The truth is that even if the non-white races—using the expressions of Stoddard and Grant—want and seek to acquire the fruits and methods of modern civilization, the colonial race, which happens to be Western and white in the examples chosen by Stoddard, does not want to grant them such modern fruits and methods. Nay, it will fight such a prospect because, as Grant put it, this means suicide for the white West. The “inferiors” should stay “inferior,” with no prospect of modern advancement. No educational effort or change in socio-economic status may alter this static situation. It is here that we may locate the historical crises regarding the entry of non-Western societies and states, including the Arab, into modernity that has been discussed at length in many Arab circles. This position also helps one to understand why a large part of the West used to term non-white peoples as “primitive” and why they were relegated to anthropological studies.
It has become startlingly clear that the prevailing and dominating racism in the modern world does not employ a single method to mark the boundaries between itself and the elements it dominates. No specific boundaries are observed between its intellectual trends because of the multiplicity of its methods: It speaks of the distinction between races in one instance; the distinction between religions at another; and between classes in yet another. It fudges and blends these methods as it deems fit when that serves its thinking and politics. The crux of the matter is that through its ideological pretense, this racist thinking was and is rationalizing its dominance.
We need to sit up and take good notice today if a century after Stoddard’s thinking, or some of its corollaries, once popular in certain elitist circles, indeed appears to be once again regaining ground in America and Europe by inspiring those who believe, explicitly or implicitly, in racial or religious differentiation theories.
Closing the gates of modernity to non-white and non-Western nations and peoples may explain, at least in part, the popularity of extremist political and socio-economic groups among the generally less-educated and poorer masses and their tendency to form and join anti-Western terrorist organizations. Since the hegemonic West sees and treats these groups as inferior, denying them their own egalitarian ideals and opportunities, it stands to reason that they, in turn, will return the favor and act aggressively against the West. The two phenomena are mirror images of each other.■