The Politics of Unreason: Right Wing Extremism in America, 1790-1970

By Seymour Martin Lipset; Earl Raab | Go to book overview

which was, and has remained, uniquely American. For them, the question was all moral; it must be contemplated in terms untouched by expediency, . . . uncorrupted even by society itself. It was a problem of conscience which by mid-century would fasten itself in one form or another, and in varying degrees, upon men's feelings everywhere. 125

The strong moral fervor of evangelical Protestantism exhibited in the anti- slavery and temperance movements--designed to eliminate those aspects of American life which contravened their sense of rectitude--frightened those Americans who did not belong. The Jews, although presumably sensitized by their history and values to sympathize with the cause of Negro freedom, abstained from any strong identification with the abolitionist cause. Many, like Isaac Mayer Wise, a leading rabbi, "distrusted the religious fanaticism that inspired the anti-slavery extremists, and feared that its next victim after the South had been crushed would be the Jews." 126 The Catholic attitude resembled that of the Jews. Although Catholic councils issued statements in support of gradual emancipation, few Catholics were active in the abolitionist movement. "One factor in this widespread Catholic attitude was a tendency to associate the anti-slavery forces with anti-Catholicism. It was noted that many Protestant abolitionists were extremely antagonistic toward the Roman Catholic Church." 127 These non- Protestant instincts were correct and had already been informed by the events of the preceding half-century. It was this brand of Protestant moralism which helped bind together the elites and masses, helped charge the conspiracy theories and bigotries, all of which shaped the monistic impulse in America for the next three-quarters of a century.


Notes
1.
Robert R. Palmer, The Age of the Democratic Revolution: The Struggle ( Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1964), pp. 429-430, 453; Anonymous , "The Illuminati," Horizon, VI (Spring 1947), 16-38.
2.
Richard Hofstadter, The Paranoid Style in American Politics ( New York: Knopf, 1965), p. 12, see pp. 10-15; Jacques Droz, "La légende du complot illuministe et les origines du romantisme politique en Allemagne," Révue Historique, CCXXVI ( 1961), 313-338; Norman Cohn , Warrant for Genocide ( New York: Harper & Row, 1967), pp. 25-31.
3.
Ibid., pp. 25-26.
4.
Lorman A. Ratner, Antimasonry in New York State: A Study in PreCivil War Reform (M.A. Thesis, Cornell University, 1958), p. 13.
5.
James K. Morse, Jedidiah Morse, a Champion of New England Orthodoxy ( New York: Columbia University Press, 1939), pp. 55-58.
6.
Palmer, op. cit., pp. 542-543.
7.
Hofstadter, op. cit., p. 13.
8.
Ibid.

-67-

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The Politics of Unreason: Right Wing Extremism in America, 1790-1970
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables ix
  • Preface xv
  • Notes xxiii
  • Chapter 1 Political Extremism 3
  • Notes 31
  • Chapter 2 Before the Civil War 34
  • Notes 67
  • Chapter 3 the Protestant Crusades from the Civil War to World War I 72
  • Notes 104
  • Chapter 4 the Bigoted Twenties 110
  • Notes 145
  • Chapter 5 the 1930's: Extremism of the Depression 150
  • Notes 202
  • Chapter 6 the 1950's: Mccarthyism 209
  • Notes 245
  • Chapter 7 the Era of the John Birch Society 248
  • Notes 282
  • Chapter 8 the Birch Society and Its Contemporaries: Social Base 288
  • Notes 333
  • Chapter 9 George Wallace and the New Nativism 338
  • Notes 373
  • Chapter 10 George Wallace: the Election and the Electorate 378
  • Notes 424
  • Chapter 11 Extremists and Extremism 428
  • Notes 482
  • Chapter 12 Political Extremism: Past and Future 484
  • Notes 515
  • Methodological Appendix to Chapter 11 517
  • Notes 522
  • General Index 525
  • Index of Proper Names 537
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