Progressivism’s Origins: In Pure and Unadulterated Racism


Just a quick note–the quotes below from E.A. Ross–a leading public intellectual during the Progressive Era–are quite disturbing and despicable.  Still, when Progressives claim they favor equality, they must at least acknowledge their rather brutal past.  Ross’s views are typical of the era, especially when all Eugenists were Progressives.


The following quotes are all from Edward Alsworth Ross, The Old World in the New: The Significance of Past and Present Immigration to the American People (New York: The Century, 1914).


“The influence of the Germans in spreading among us the love of good music and good drama is acknowledged by all. But there is a more subtle transformation that they have wrought on American taste. The social diversions of the Teutons, and their affirmance of the ‘joy of living,’ have helped to clear from our eyes the Puritan jaundice that made all physical and social enjoyment looks sinful. If ‘innocent recreation’ and ‘harmless amusement’ are now phrases to conjure with, it is largely owing to the Germans and Bohemians, with their love of song and mirth and ‘having a good time.’” (pg. 54)

“Physically the German is strong, but often too stocky for grace. A blend with the taller and thinner American is likely to give good results in figure. Being slow in response, he makes a poor showing in tentative sports. His forte is gymnastics rather than athletics, and he is to be found in the indoor, sedentary trades rather than in the active, outdoor callings. Not often will you come upon him riveting trusses far up on the skyscraper or the railway bridge. His pleasures he takes sitting rather than moving, so that he can’t summer–garden and picnic–ground rather than base–ball diamond and bowling–ally. For all his traditional domesticity, he is a sociable soul, and will log off his entire family to a public resort, when an American would prefer up hype by the fireside. He is fond of the table, and loves to enjoy talk, music, or drama while eating and drinking.” (Pages 63–64)


“Preferably honest, the Scandinavian is less prone than the Americans to seek his living by crookedness.… Nor is he subject to the wild impulses that often crop out in the Italian or the Slav. Much of his crime springs from disorderly conduct, and drink must bear most of the blame, for on the Scandinavian nature liquor has a disastrous effect.” (Page 72)


“It will not do to shuffle all our Scandinavians into one deck. The Danes are courteous and pleasure–loving, though moody, and they run the moderation in virtues as in devices. The Swedes bear the impress of a society that has long known aristocracy, refinement, and industrialism. They are more polished in manner than the Norwegians, although the humble betray a servility which crates upon Americans.” (Page 81)


“For all the great majority of the Italian immigrants are peaceable and industrious, no other element matches them in propensity for personal violence.… The medievalism of the South Italians appears from the fact that they commit more deeds of personal violence then gainful offenses.” (Page 106)


“To avenge one’s wrongs oneself, and never to appeal to law, is a part of Sicilian honor.” (Page 107)


“The South Italian is volatile unstable, soon hot, soon cool.… It is generally agreed that the South Italians lie more easily than North Europeans, and utter untruth without that self–consciousness which makes us awkward liars.” (Page 117)


“Mindful of these darting eyes and hands, one does not wonder that the Sicilian will grab his best friend in a sudden quarrel over a game of cards. The Slavs are ferocious in their cups, but none is so ready with his knife when sober as the South Italian.”


“Centuries of enforced Ghetto life seemed to have bred in them a herding instinct. No other physiques can so well withstand the toxins of urban congestion. Save the Italians Or Jews will crowd upon a given space than any other nationality.” (Page 145)


“None can beat the Jew at a bargain, for through all the intricacies of commerce he can scent his profit. The peddler, junk dealer, or upon broker is on the first rung of the ladder. The more capable rise in a few years to be theoretical managers, bankers or heads of department stores. Moreover great numbers or clerks and salesmen and thousands are municipal and building contractors.” (Pages 147–148)


“The authorities complain that the East European Hebrews feel no reverence for law as such and are willing to break any ordinance they find in their way. The fact that pleasure–loving Jewish businessman spare Jewesses but pursue Gentile girls excites bitter comment. The insurance companies scan a Jewish buyer risk more closely than any other. Credit men save the Jewish merchant is often ‘slippery’ and will ‘fail’ in order to get rid of his debts.” (Page 150)


“In this sense it is fair to say that the blood now being injected into the veins of our people is ‘sub–common.’ To one accustomed to the aspect of the normal American population, the Caliban type shows up with a frequency that is startling. Observe immigrants not as they come travel–wan again–playing, nor is the issue toil–begrimed from pit’s mouth or mill gate, but in their gatherings, washed, combed, and in their Sunday best. You were struck by the fact that from 10 to 20% are hirsute, low-browed, big-faced persons of obviously low mentality.  Nor that they suggest evil.” (Page 285)


“These oxlike men are descendants of those who always stayed behind.… To the practiced eye, the physiognomy of certain groups unmistakably proclaims inferiority of type. I have seen gatherings of the foreign dashboard in which narrow and sloping floor heads were the rule. The shortness and smallness of the crania were very noticeable. There was much facial asymmetry. Among the women, beauty, aside from the fleeting, epidermal bloom of girlhood, was quite lacking. In every face there was something wrong—lipstick, mouth course, upper lip too long, cheek–bones too high, chin poorly formed, the bridge of the nose hollowed, the base of the nose tilted, or else the whole face prognathous.  There were so many sugar–loaf heads, moon–faces, slit mouths, lantern–Jaws, and goose–bill noses that one might imagine a malicious jinn had amused himself by casting human beings in a set of skew–molds discarded by the Creator.” (pg. 286)


“The overlooked that this man will beget children in his image—two or three times as many as the American—and that these children will in turn beget children. They chuckle at having opened an inexhaustible store of cheap tools and, Lo! the American people is being altered for all time by these tools. Once before, captains of industry took a hand in making this people. Colonial planters imported Africans to hoe in the sun, to ‘develop’ the tobacco, indigo, and rice plantations. Then, as now, business minded men met with contempt the protests of the few idealists against their way of quote ‘building of the country.’ Motors of prosperity are dust, but they bequeathed a situation which in four years wiped out more wealth than 200 years of slavery had built off, and which presents today the one unsolvable problem in this country. Without likening immigrants to Negroes, one may point out how the latter–day employer resembles the old–time planter in his blindness to the facts of his labor policy upon the blood of the nation.” (Page 287)


“It is reasonable to expect an early falling off in the frequency of good looks in the American people. It is unthinkable that so many persons with crooked faces, coarse mouths, bad noses, heavy jaws, and low for heads can mingle their heredity with ours without making personal beauty yet more rare among this than it actually is.” (Page 287)


“’The woman world was laughing when it died.’ Any couple or any people that does not feel it has anything to transmit to its children may well reason in such fashion. A couple may reflect, ‘it is simpler, speedier, and cheaper for us to adopt orphans than to produce children of our own.’ A nation may reason, ‘why burden ourselves with the rearing of children? Let them perish unborn in the womb of time. The immigrants will keep up the population.’ A people that has no more respect for its ancestors and no more pride of race than this deserves the extinction that surely awaits it.” (Page 304)





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