The program was Booknotes on C-SPAN.
January 19, 2003 :First Great Triumph: How Five Americans Made Their
Country a World Power by Warren Zimmermann
It would seem that four of these five U.S. notables
thought that Europeans and especially Anglo-Saxons were
superior by virtue of their race. I gues the question
I am asking is: Was the apparent anti-semtism and anti-Africanism
more a function of a sense Anglo-Saxon superiority, than a
sense of the inferiority of the other races per se.
I know it is a fine distinction, and either way it amounts
to a kind of racism, but if my disinction holds it could explain
some of the blindness involved. In effect, X looks down on Y, not
so much because X thinks Y inferior, as because X thinks X is superior.
One can watch the program by a link from the above site.
The case is very clearly made that there was a strong sense of
Anglo-Saxon racial superiority, and that Darwin was used to
That's about as concrete as I can get, Ken. I hope it helps
to clarify what I am trying to get at.
Personally I am quite ambivalent about whether E. was anti-semetic
before WWII. I don't think one can use the poetry to make the
case, because the point of view, if there even is one in the poem,
need not be Eliot's. It could be a portrait of the time.
The words in AFTER STRANGE GODS are much harder to get around.
They seem pretty blatantly racist to me, but whether it was
a personal racism or just being a blind part of the movement
(neither way excusable) is hard to tell. I don't know of any
case that can be made for Eliot's being racist AFTER WWII.
Dr. Peter C. Montgomery
Dept. of English
3100 Foul Bay Rd.
Victoria, BC CANADA V8P 5J2
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From: Ken Armstrong [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Monday, January 20, 2003 6:20 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: More on racism
What program, Peter? This is all pretty vague stuff in your post. While you
were off the list (in fact, I think you were a key in kicking off the
discussion just before you left), Eliot and anti-semitism was pretty
thoroughly hashed over, and just for the record there are (or were) a
significant number of listers who thought Eliot not to be anti-semitic or
racist, me among them. Too bad the list archives are unavailable. At any
rate, though I don't wish to recreate that discussion, I don't accept your
premises. The poetry, even Burbank and Gerontion especially, points to a
different orientation. Interesting that this pops up on the day of
celebration in the US of Martin Luther King.
At 09:41 PM 1/19/2003 -0800, you wrote:
>I've just been watching a program on the development of US power,
>and there is a lot being made of Europeans and esp. Anglo-Saxons
>being considered the superior races, on the basis of Darwin. Many
>key people in the US admin. opposed open immigration on that basis.
>In particular, the concept was taught at Harvard.
>Could this A/S superiority complex be the flip side of
>the anti-semitism of the time, Eliot being a typical buyer
>of such cant.
>[Plese note: I have no desire or intention here of trying to
> excuse Eliot's racism. I want only to understand the situation.
> I do, however, as I have indicated before, fully expect the clowns
> who enjoy plaguing us, to use racism for shock purposes.]