The Know Nothings haven’t returned; they never really left.

By Craig McDermott

 

More than eight years ago, I started blogging at my personal blog, Random Musings.

At the time, it was mostly about me venting on individual matters of the day, but it soon evolved into something that was less “issue oriented” and more focused “process” (i.e. – the misdeeds of the Arizona legislature).

However, issues, especially ones that don’t fade away, still play a part.

And one issue that hasn’t “faded away” is immigration and the anti–immigant hatred that suffuses politics in Arizona.

In 2010, Jan Brewer rode SB1070 to a full term as governor.

In 2014, Republican candidates are still running against “them”, not against the other Republican candidates or even Fred Duval, the Democratic candidate for governor this year.

Nope, their base is motivated by fear and hatred, of immigrants, of Barack Obama, of the future, of anything that is “different” and so the Republican candidates are campaigning against the “Other”.

A large part of that is unbridled nativism.

It was the subject of the first post in my blog, and unfortunately, as evidenced by events in Oracle earlier this week (and Murrieta, CA before that) and AZBlueMeanie’s post here earlier today, that post is still relevant eight years later.

In 2006, while researching an unrelated subject for a class I was taking at the time, I came across a handwritten letter dating from 1856 detailing the presidential platform of the infamously nativist Know Nothing party –

know_nothing_letter

(source: Duke University)

The platform, as near as I could make out –

1. Repeal of all naturalization laws
2. None but native Americans for office.
3. A pure American common school system.
4. War to the hilt, on political Romanism.
5. Opposition to the formation of military companies composed of foreigners.
6. The advocacy of a sound, healthy and safe nationality.
7. Hostility to all Papal influences, when brought to bear against the Republic.
8. American Institutions and American Sentiments.
9. More stringent and effective immigration laws.
10. The amplest protections to Protestant interests.
11. The doctrines of the revered Washington.
12. The sending back of all foreign _____.
13. Formation of societies to protect American interests.
14. Eternal enmity to all who attempt to carry out the principles of a foreign church on state.
15. Our country, our whole country, and nothing but our country.
16. Finally, American Laws, and American…..

Other than changing the anti-Catholic rhetoric to anti-Mexican rhetoric and updating for modern language usage, the bile spewed by the likes of Adam Kwasman and Paul Babeu and the rest is no different than what their ideological inspirations spewed a century-and-a-half ago.

 

Heres to hoping that they and their ilk end up in history’s dustbin, right next to their inspirations.

One response to “The Know Nothings haven’t returned; they never really left.

  1. Prup (aka Jim Benton)

    Very good, buut I want to add one ‘tweak’ to your post. UltraNationalism has always had two parts, a specifically ethnic one and a religious one. The Know Nothings and their many successors through the years were predominantly a Protestant group that would have applauded Barton and ‘Christian Nation’ theorists. They were strongly anti-Catholic (and some of their successors still are, like John Hagee) and attacked immigrants on religious grounds, as well as playing the same ‘racial stereotypes’ against the Irish that today’s Ultras use against Mexicans.

    The religious component is still there, which is why so many of the border guards somehow make their stand against Muslims as well as against Mexicans — who have been forgiven for their “Romanism” at least for now, when there is a ‘more dangerous enemy’ to unite against. (The poor blind bigots can’t be sure they can distinguish the two types of ‘brown people’ if the Muslims take off their turbans (/snark if I needed to say it) and, in fact, all of them seem to be thinking they are helping to prevent another 9/11 as well.)

    But despite the slight changes in lyrics, “The Song Remains The Same” whether it is in a 19th Century mode, a Germanic-influenced verse from the middle of last Century, or today.