“The US is a white Christian country. Everyone else is here on sufferance:”
“The US is a white Christian country. Everyone else is here on sufferance:” Donald Trump, James II, and the Glorious Revolution – by New Deal democrat
For the past year +, I have been reading about the History of Republics -really, a History of the Rule of Law – that has taken me through Ancient Rome, Venice, Genoa, Florence, Switzerland, the Dutch Republic, and currently the Glorious Revolution of 1688 in the UK.
There are enough parallels between that event and the US in 2020 that it is worth some more detailed comparison.
Recently I came across a quote attributed to FDR that I think perfectly encapsulates the current GOP view of the United States:
“The United States is a white Christian country. Everyone else is here on sufferance.”
Now, FDR was a total political animal. He wasn’t necessarily stating his own deeply held view. Rather, more likely he was voicing his opinion of the most prevalent political ideology of the country.
I think that quote – variously reported as “Anglo-Dutch” or “white Protestant” is spot on. It encapsulates an idea that people of color and white non-Christians (including, arguably, Catholics, or at least those who aren’t “pro-life”) are second class citizens. They are de jure equal, but are only entitled to their voice so long as they don’t disturb the hegemony of the founding white Protestants. Hence why “real America” consists of the lily-white areas of the Midwest and West, and why Whites in the South are entitled to rule their States.
Both US political parties really agree with that divide. Think about it: are Blacks and Hispanics *relatively* worse off compared to Whites when the GOP is in control? If that is true – and I certainly believe it is – then it necessarily also means that Whites are *relatively* worse off compared to Blacks and Hispanics when Democrats are in control. I actually think partisans of both parties agree with both of those statements. What they differ on is which outcome is “fair.” That certainly accords with dozens of quotes I have read from partisans and regular supporters on both side of the divide.
If you accept the main premise – that GOPers believe that the US is fundamentally supposed to be a white Christian country – then what is the #1 existential threat to that regime? It isn’t China. It isn’t Iran. It certainly isn’t Russia.
Rather, the #1 imminent threat to that order is the Democratic Party.
Thus, in order to preserve the US as a white Christian country, allying with Vladimir Putin to make sure that the Democrats don’t take power makes perfect sense. In fact it is laudable.
In short, once you accept this worldview, everything that the GOP does makes perfect sense.
Which brings me to James II and the Glorious Revolution of 1688.
Yale historian Steve Pincus’s “1688: The First Modern Revolution” is kind of a revisionist-revisionist history that posits that the Glorious Revolution was neither conservative/reactionary, nor limited to the nobility and gentry, but rather was a reaction to a “modernization” scheme by James II. Since Pincus extensively reports the opinions of prior historians, I figured it would be a good read even if I didn’t ultimately agree with his contention (which, so far, I don’t).
James II’s brief reign was characterized by two goals: the substantive goal of returning the UK to Catholicism as the established religion; and the procedural one of imitating Louis XIV of France’s establishment of absolutism in the monarchy in order to get there.
To that end he used burgeoning state revenues (primarily a result of Britain’s overseas colonies) to establish and expand a standing army in all counties and cities throughout the country. He also made use of universal loyalty tests to purge the military, academia, the clergy, and municipal and county governments of opponents, and install (mainly Catholic) loyalists.
To the vast majority of the population, this transgressed one or both of two fundamental principles. James had been allowed to succeed to the Crown only because he espoused (as it turned out, in faint name only) “liberty of conscience.” His subjects initially believed that, while he was personally Catholic, their Church (mainly the Anglican Church) would be allowed to continue exactly as before. Presbyterians, Methodists, and Baptists also believed that their beliefs would not be discriminated against. The vast majority of the British were and remained opposed to the re-establishment of Catholicism as the preferred State religion. When it became clear that this was James’s true intent, he almost universally lost support.
Further, as far as the British were concerned, their King, while hereditary, ruled by law as fundamentally set forth in the Magna Carta and specifically as approved by Parliament. When James started to rule by prerogative, i.e., on his own kingly authority irregardless of the wishes of Parliament, (most especially by overturning the “Test Act” which forbade Catholics from occupying positions of authority, especially in the military), the British correctly interpreted this to mean that no liberty and no property were safe from monarchical fiat.
Thus the vast majority of the British people supported – indeed, many of the nobility and gentry openly helped plan – the “invasion” of Prince William of Orange in Holland, and his wife Mary, James’s Protestant daughter.
To recap: James sought to re-establish a reactionary regime (of Catholicism) by bypassing the proper Legislature, and making use of allegedly unchallengeable Executive authority. This had profound effects on daily life, none more profound than the quartering of troops in localities throughout the kingdom, imposing on innkeepers and simple homeowners alike.
Now let’s look at the US in 2020. Trump has been trying to re-establish a reactionary regime of white Christianity, by making use of allegedly unchallengeable Executive authority. Like James II, he is trying to establish a standing army in the form of the Department of Homeland Security (see Portland). And like James II, he is applying loyalty tests across the board to purge every agency he can of those who might oppose his goals, including positions of nonpolitical civil servants.
In both cases, the majority of the population is having none of it, the big difference being that James II probably had less than 20% – maybe less than 10% – support when the chips were down (the military either turned on him or simply stood aside), while Trump probably has between 40% – 45% support. Most notably, the US military command is apparently actively resisting trump’s attempts to use it politically.
As a result, the Glorious Revolution of 1688-89 resulted in very few actual deaths. With the burgeoning of a right-wing Brownshirt movement in the US, as NRA protests have spread to anti-lockdown and anti-mask protests, and anti-BLM vigilantism, that happy result looks unlikely in the US.
Yet another parallel is likely to be what came afterward. In the case of the UK, to prevent the arising of another James II, the populace insisted that the monarchs submit to Parliamentary authority. Should Biden win the Presidency and the Democrats win the Senate, it is likely – it is *necessary* – that we will see a Constitutional push to prevent another Trump from attempting to assert unchecked Presidential authority.
It isn’t just Trump, it’s the whole Republican party
That was 75 years ago, more even. This is now. We can do better.
FDR was a man of his times, needing much enlightenment,
not receiving it, not even very open to it it would seem.
Quite an advancement from Wilson, perhaps. Since
then, it’s been many steps forward, and we still
have far to go. Will the planet hold together
long enough for us to get there?
Forgive me for interfering, but the matter is important.
There is no such quote by Franklin Roosevelt on the internet, and I am entirely sure there is no such quote by Roosevelt. Roosevelt was a truly grand figure, whose memory has been and should be respected.
The mistaken attribution of the quote should be removed.
It isn’t just trump, it isn’t just the Republican Party, it’s all the Republican voters.
We need a term for them that is harsher than deplorables, and efforts should be made to quarantine them from real human beings.
Here are a few sources attributing the quote, or a similar version, to FDR:
“Roosevelt himself never quite transcended prejudices he had imbibed as a privileged young man in rural New York state. In 1942, he told New Deal economist Leo T. Crowley, an Irish-Catholic, “Leo, you know this is a Protestant country, and the Catholics and Jews are here under sufferance.”
“[FDR’s Treasury Secretary Henry] Morgenthau had long refrained from jeopardizing his friendship with Roosevelt–which he called the “most important thing” in his life–by special pleading on Jewish matters. After World War II began, FDR had privately said to Morgenthau and a Catholic appointee, Leo Crowley, ‘You know this is a Protestant country, and the Catholics and Jews are here under sufferance.’ He bluntly told them it was ‘up to you’ to ‘go along with anything I want.’”
The quote attributed to Franklin Roosevelt was never written or spoken by Roosevelt. The quote is mistaken in attribution, and the attribution should be removed. Roosevelt never wrote or spoke any such words.
Please remove the attribution of the quote.
Please do not defame Roosevelt.
I believe the author will answer you.
FACING UP TO FDR’S RACISM
The only immigrants who should be admitted to the United States are those who have “blood of the right sort.” Immigration should be severely restricted for “a good many years to come,” until the United States is able to “digest” those who have already been admitted.
One need look no further than today’s headlines to find an American political leader expressing such sentiments. But they can also be found in statements made by Franklin D. Roosevelt, five years after he ran as the Democratic nominee for vice-president, and less than eight before he was elected president. …
(And various earlier presidents were slave-holders.
We are better now than we were back then.
We still have a long way to go.)
Racism in the United States has existed since the very foundation of the state.
I regret having interfered and will never do so again, but since I did interfere I was correct. There is no such quote that has been attributed to Franklin Roosevelt.
The quote attributed to Franklin Roosevelt was never written or spoken by Roosevelt. There is no such quote reported from Roosevelt. The attribution should then be removed.
The turns of phrase used by ATQ is reminiscent of Anne.
I have provided a number of sources that the quote was actually spoken to several officials. Morganthau was sufficiently unnerved that he passed it on to others.
The quote stays.
“The US is a white Christian country. Everyone else is here on sufferance”
[ There is no record of such a quote by the person to whom the quote is attributed. The quote is obviously mistaken and should of course be removed.
I was completely polite, even if insistent, and did not appreciate the evidently typical attempt at bullying by “Ron”.
I do not believe anyone was bullying you. If they did, I would intercede. There is disagreement though and that is normal.
“The US is a white Christian country….”
These words, these supposed quoted words, alone, were never written nor reported as spoken by Franklin Roosevelt.
“The US is a white Christian country. Everyone else is here on sufferance”
There is no such written or spoken quote from Franklin Roosevelt.
I deeply apologize for foolishly pointing out the mistake, but mistake it is.
The turns of phrase used by ATQ is reminiscent of…
[ This needless comment was designed to intimidate. The person who made this comment was never addressed, and I had been completely polite however foolish I may have been. ]
I know NDd. He is a writer here and a very good one. We are lucky to have him. At the same time, we are fortunate to have you come by also. You are not going to get 100% agreement.
I in no way criticized the essay. I in no way criticized the writer of the essay. I simply pointed out that the supposed quote was mistaken in attribution.
There is no such quote on record from Franklin Roosevelt:
“The US is a white Christian country. Everyone else is here on sufferance.”
All that was needed to correct the mistake was for the attribution of the quote to be removed.
I was and am correct, but was exceedingly foolish to have commented. I have learned my lesson.
Nobody said you criticized his essay. Here is another citation”
“In 1654 Peter Stuyvesant, general director of the Dutch
New Amsterdam colony which later became New York City, urged that
“the deceitful race” of Jews should not “be allowed to further infect and
trouble this new colony” with their “customary usury and deceitful trading
with Christians” (Stuyvesant 1654). Almost 200 years later, president
Franklin Delano Roosevelt could still state matter-of-factly, “this is a
Protestant country, and the Catholics and Jews are here under sufferance”
(Pike 1995: 67).
You are not foolish however, you are not going to force the issue either. There are some here who are Jewish also and if I am wrong they will speak out. My wife and I have been a part of the Jewish community and are respected even though we are not Jewish. Her boss claims my wife is more Jewish than she is. I mean no hard feelings and in fact we respect you.