Look no further than the Jacksonian Era's Second Party System for the origin of 21st century 'identity politics.'

     The classic view of 'Jacksonian Democracy' is a portrait of Democratic politicians of modest means appealing to voters like themselves; Whig politicians are rich men catering to wealthy constituents. With the exception of a few such portrayals, voters remain inconspicuous.

     Through systematic analysis of voter choice in Ohio, Identity Politics adds another state's response to the challenge issued from New York by historian Lee Benson: Democratic and Whig voters in both states relied on religion, ethnicity, nativity, the prejudices of Northerners and Southerners, even the value of 'party' itself as the bases of voter behavior. This foundation, in turn, foreshadowed the future of American politics.



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      Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth.... Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible, thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habit. — Bertrand Russell

     While the American fleet burned in Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt, with indispensable assistance from J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI, unleashed the Army and Justice Department on resident nationals of Germany, Japan, Italy and American citizens with connections to those three countries. The President’s action joined him and his administration to the ranks of those who, since the 1790s, have made the fear of aliens a vital component of national security.Hoover's FBI rounded up nearly 11,000 people of German ancestry, including Jewish refugees from occupied Europe and over 4,000 residents of Latin America and imprisoned them in a nationwide gulag.

     A fascinating and chilling account. The oral histories breathe Kafkaesque life into the written record .... The oral histories make credible what is otherwise an almost unbelievable tale. —The Oral History Review   


     Through personal interviews and letter collections, underpinned by thousands of documents, Fox tells America's shameful story. Must reading for all concerned about a repetition and erosion of American civil liberties. —Society for German-American Studies Newsletter 

     1. Ethnic profiling and spying on aliens and citizens (including electronic surveillance).

2. FBI aggrandizement and the use of military commissions.

3. Secret arrests, suspension of due process—including the presumption of guilt and

use of hearsay—and the abuse of habeas corpus.

4. Changing standards of dangerousness.

5. Arbitrary detention, sentencing, and release (preventive detention).

6. Punishment emphasized over security.

7. Repatriation and deportation.

8. Inducements to foreign governments to detain suspects in secret locations

(extraordinary rendition).

9. Second-class citizenship.


No matter the power of its armies or the size of its economy, how secure is a nation

in which such practices exist?


     For six months in 1942 the federal government enacted a relocation program that forced thousands of West Coast Italian and German aliens and their families to leave their homes.  Additional thousands, including American citizens, whose loyalty was deemed doubtful, were interned or excluded without trial.

     Under Siege! is an oral and documentary history focusing on the West Coast Italian-American experience in 1942. It uses the words of those affected by the relocation order to tell the human side of the story omitted by the government, and it presents documents that testify to the struggle of a country trying to square its actions with its values.

Author discusses immigration

Video courtesy of

Gennaro Lucchino (2/19)

© 2016 Stephen Fox

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