April 17, 2021
After a week heavy with police violence and a mass shooting, a few GOP representatives decided it’s the right time to form the America First Caucus. As Kevin M. Kruse writes, it is "little more than a retread of the white nationalist screeds of the 1910s and 1920s." The caucus vows to protect "Anglo-Saxon traditions" that are "threatened when foreign citizens are imported en-masse into a country.”
Much like the National Origins Act of 1924, the America First Caucus seeks to preserve a false Eurocentric — i.e. white — identity by fearmongering that a foreign — i.e. non-white — takeover is imminent. "We need to remember the dangerous ends and drastic horrors such arguments led us to before," Kruse writes, "and might well lead us to again.”....
“America is a nation with a border, and a culture, strengthened by a common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon traditions,” asserts the section on immigration. “History has shown that societal trust and political unity are threatened when foreign citizens are imported en-masse into a country.”
A century ago, these same sorts of arguments about the “Anglo-Saxon” character of the United States and the threat that “foreign” elements would bring to its politics and culture were quite widespread.
During the late 1910s, as the United States reeled from a deadly pandemic, economic turmoil, race riots and a surge in immigration all at once, these white nationalist tropes found a receptive audience in the American people.