The New Zealand Shooting and the eternal fear of “race suicide”Roundup
tags: racism, White Supremacy, New Zealand shooting
Jonathan Zimmerman teaches education and history at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author (with Emily Robertson) of “The Case for Contention: Teaching Controversial Issues in American Schools” (University of Chicago Press).
So here’s a quick quiz. Who said, “Prevent the higher races from losing their nobler traits and from being overwhelmed by the lower races,” and when did he say it?
If you guessed Pittsburgh synagogue shooter Robert Bowers or Brenton Tarrant, the 28-year-old who murdered 50 people in New Zealand week before last, you’re wrong. The correct answer is Theodore Roosevelt, who made this remark in 1895 — just six years before he became president of the United States.
And that’s also the key element that’s been missing from the reaction to the New Zealand massacre, which has focused mostly on contemporary racism and President Donald Trump. In the manifesto that Tarrant released, he cited Mr. Trump as a “symbol of white identity and purpose.” Then the blogosphere exploded in predictably polarized fashion, with one side citing Mr. Trump’s own arguably racist statements and the other dismissing Tarrant as a raving madman.
It’s fair to ask how Mr. Trump’s behavior has fueled the rise of white nationalism, both at home and abroad. But it also diverts us from a deeper historical truth. Put simply, the fear of being flooded by foreign hordes is baked into our national DNA. And it all starts with the question of fertility.
So did Tarrant’s manifesto. Its first sentence was “It’s the birthrates,” and he repeated the phrase three times. He entitled his document “The Great Replacement,” which nodded to a French philosopher’s 2012 book about declining white fertility around the world.
comments powered by Disqus
- New Statue Unsettles Italian City: Is It Celebrating a Poet or a Nationalist?
- A Charter School Gets Canceled for Wanting to Teach Indigenous History
- The 1969 Documentary That Tried to Humanize Queen Elizabeth II and The Royal Family
- The 96-Year-History of the Equal Rights Amendment
- The Amazon Rainforest under Threat
- An interview with historian James Oakes on the New York Times’ 1619 Project
- Historian Jeffrey Engel Takes Listener Questions On Impeachment Inquiry on NPR's All Things Considered
- 5 Historians on What Was Truly Unprecedented in This Week’s Impeachment Hearings
- Teaching impeaching: History comes to life in school as teachers seize on this historic moment. Here’s what some are doing — and how.
- Smithsonian Elevates the Frequently Ignored Histories of Women