Jim Crow Laws and Nuremberg Laws

Professor James Q. Whitman, of Comparative and Foreign Law at Yale University, author of  Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law, in a Las Angeles Times Op-Edargues that Nazi Germany’s anti-Jewish Nuremberg Laws of 1935 were influenced by American law (e.g. Jim Crow Laws) and practice, lauded by Hitler in Mein Kampf.¹ To go along with laws prohibiting miscegenation, the “one drop” rule allowed for people “of predominantly white appearance” to be classified as blacks.

The Nazis wanted, so the argument goes, to relegate Jews to second-class citizen status to pressure them into leaving. Their later more drastic action against Jews, apparently, came as a decision also made much later. Apparently, according to Professor Whitman, even the Nazis found contemporary American laws and practice too drastic and inhumane.

The late Robert Wistrich, leading scholar of anti-Semitism said, in fact, that:³

The Nuremberg Race Laws of September 1935, for which Streicher* had insistently agitated, were Hitler’s interim compromise between the countervailing pressures confronting him and his will to execute, at least in part, the principles of his racial ideology.

Wistrich argued that Hitler was initially buying time, to allow for economic and military consolidation of the Reich, before unleashing the full fury of what was his original intent all along:³

Only then, with the dismissal of ‘moderates’ like Schacht, von Neurath, von Blomberg and von Fritsch, the upturn in the economy, the rise of the SS and the radical change in the international situation of the Third Reich, was the road clear for Hitler.

Indeed, Hitler’s speeches from the early 1920s included remarks like:³

the first thing to do is to rescue it [Aryan humanity] from the Jew who is running our country … We want to prevent our Germany from suffering, as Another did, the death upon the cross.

Hitler’s biographer, Allan Bullock, according to Wistrich, confirmed that anti-Semitism was Hitler’s driving motive, “the master idea which embraces the whole span of his thought.”³

It might then be mollifying Hitler’s original intent to say that he initially just wanted the Jews to leave Germany. Nonetheless, he was, apparently, enamoured with contemporary American racial law.

Of course the American system of racial laws was predominantly directed against blacks, although Hispanics, Filipinos, and other groups were also targeted. By contrast, the Nazi system targeted predominantly Jews, but also Roma gypsies, Bolsheviks, and homosexuals.

In a November article for Oxford University Press’s Academic Insights for the Thinking World, Professor Daniel Dreisbach of the Department of Justice, Law and Society, School of Public Affairs, American University, Washington DC, wrote that “the political discourse of the founding, for one example, is replete with appeals to the Hebrew “republic” as a model for their own political experiment.”² Other examples, cited by Professor Dreisbach, also point to a heavy biblical influence in the creation of the American republic.

Is it fair then to characterise the then American racial laws with Nazi Nuremberg Race Laws?

The Nazis may well have taken a leaf out of the American racial playbook, but from there American and Nazi practices diverge; whether originally intended that way or not. The American  founding fathers likely based their republic on the Israelite model of the Old Testament. The Nazis, on the other hand, based their racial hatred on anti-Semitism and, notionally at least, in abject opposition to the Bible.



  1. James Whitman, “When the Nazis wrote the Nuremberg laws, they looked to racist American statutes,Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, CA), Feb. 22, 2017.
  2. Daniel L. Dreisbach, “How the Bible influenced the Founding Fathers,Oxford University Press’s Academic Insights for the Thinking World, November 23, 2016.
  3. Robert S. Wistrich. Hitler’s Apocalypse: Jews and the Nazi Legacy, From and London, 1985: 69; 77-78.

*The Gauleiter of Franconia and desperately antisemitic editor of Der Sturmer (“The Stormer”), a weekly German tabloid, from 1923 until the end of World War 2.

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Pearl of great price

A rare gem has recently been retrieved. The black pearl, a hundred times rarer than white pearls, is one of the rarest gems on earth.

The discovery was made by the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) company.

Fewer people follow the ballet as do the football. And that is fine. But to have an eye for the precious and prized, no matter what field the endeavour, is only good form.

In ballet circles Misty Copeland is the only African-American woman promoted to soloist in over two decades. She performed her first full lead for the ABT in Stravinsky’s The Firebird. That was in 2012. Yesterday evening’s performance as Odette/Odile (which to ballet is what Hamlet is to the Thespian) at the Metropolitan Opera House had stalls abuzz that she is set to become the ABT’s first black female principal. Were she to do so she would not only be that first but she would also have achieved her lifelong ambition.

Last September, RivkaGalchen’s article about the 32-year old Copeland appeared at the The New Yorker. It invoked the names of Raven Wilkinson, Sylvester Campbell, George Balanchine, Josephine Baker, Virginia Johnson, and Michaela DePrince.

Lauren Anderson was another that was mentioned. Anderson was the first African-American woman to reach the rank of principal ballerina with a major American company other than Dance Theatre Harlem. Ms Anderson knows about dance and she knows about black: “When we think of ballerinas, we think of pink and pale and fluffy. We’re not accustomed to thinking of black women’s bodies in that context. We’re accustomed to thinking of black women as athletic and strong. But all ballerinas are athletic, all ballerinas are strong.”

“I know that I was born to do this.” Misty Copeland débuts in ‘Swan Lake’ at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre in Brisbane, Australia. September 3, 2014. [CBS News]

Galchen reveals a black dancer who has grappled with the oft-asked question of ballet — “Isn’t it really about class, not race?” In many cultures, Copeland admits, dancers come from all social classes. “But I think there is more to it than that. I can see now how I was so well supported, even in my low times, but I don’t know if I ever felt like I belonged.”

Ballet is perhaps the ultimate form of multidimensional — spatial and temporal — expression of the self. The demands on the professional dancer, the prized ballerina, are very different but no less rigorous than that of the professional footballer.

Marjorie Liebert, the retired dancer, had brought back with her from Paris the techniques of barre-à-terre, the classical ballet precursor to Pilates. This helped Copeland physically manage the stress fractures and hyper-extension strains. Liebert may have assuaged Copeland more than just physically. It is only the sureness of a voice of lived authority that could proclaim what may well have become the art’s maxim: “We dance who we are.

Misty Copeland and James Whiteside in “Swan Lake” at the Metropolitan Opera House, June 24, 2015. From “Cheers, bouquets for Misty Copeland at her ‘Swan Lake’ debut“, Yahoo News. [Originally from American Ballet Theater, (Gene Schiavone/American Ballet Theater via AP)]

Misty Copeland was a sinewy, spindly, lass of delayed menarche from which she was to emerge, overnight, physically larger. And she came to that belated and obtrusive metamorphosis from an equally late start in dance.

Kevin McKenzie, the ABT’s artistic director, shares with Galchen that “She [Copeland] learned so much from her periods off. Even though she had this late start and meteoric rise, in the end her training was as long as anyone’s. She had gone through puberty and had a different body, And then she excelled again. She had a heinous injury; she came back better—more mature, more analytical.”

The human form has developed and evolved wonderful means of expression, all of which belie the grit and grimace behind their epiphany. For many admirers and novices alike, the only ballet they may come to practice is Liebert’s barre-à-terre. And that too is fine.

As with most successes, so too Miss Copeland’s. Bravo. Ever more so for an ebony pearl in the world of American ballet.

—♦—

An Unlikely Ballerina, by Rivka Galchen, can be read in full at The New Yorker

Black Slavery

The Portuguese had been systematically slave trading since the 1440s and by 1500 had claimed Brazil. Within 50 years they had arranged major sugar plantations and between 1550 and 1800, Brazil alone absorbed 2.5 million African slaves.

And yet, in 1800 it’s black population was still only one million.

The No-Nonsense Guide to World History – New Edition, Chris Brazier. New Internationalist. 3rd Edition, 2011

Blacks and Same-sex Marriage

UrbanCure newsletter by Star Parker – 22 May 2012

Blacks agree with traditional values but vote for candidates who support abortion, moral relativism, and government dependence.

Perhaps history will show that the first black president’s biggest contribution to black America was forcing this community to come to terms with its own identity and priorities.

By formalizing his support of same-sex marriage, President Barack Obama has pushed blacks to decide what is most important to them: The Biblical message they hear in church every Sunday, or the big government liberalism that they regularly vote for on Tuesday of Election Day.

I’ve often talked about what I call the “Sunday-Tuesday Gap’ in black America.

The black church has always played a central role in black American life. Blacks attend church with greater frequency than any ethnic group in the nation. In church, they hear from pastors who preach the Bible in a most literal fashion.

According to a 2010 Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life survey, 34 percent of the general public sees the Bible as the literal word of God. However, 57 percent of blacks and 61 percent of black Protestants say the Bible should be read as God’s literal word.

This helps explain why in responding to surveys on so-called “social issues,” — abortion, marriage, family, infidelity, homosexuality — blacks poll like white conservatives.

However, when blacks go to vote on Tuesday, they certainly don’t vote like white conservatives. They vote like white liberals.

On Sunday, blacks hear preachers talk about traditional values, about family, about personal responsibility, about the sanctity of life. On Tuesday they go to the polls and vote for candidates who support abortion, moral relativism, and government dependence.

According to a 2010 Gallup survey, 55 percent of blacks said they attend church frequently (“at least once a week” or “almost every week”). However among Democrats, the party blacks overwhelmingly support, 39 percent say they attend church frequently. And among liberals, who are overwhelmingly Democrats, 27 percent attend church frequently.

The black vote wasn’t always so predictable. Eisenhower got 39 percent of the black vote in 1956 and Nixon received 32 percent in 1960.
Now, 90 percent of blacks can be depended on to pull the lever for Democrats.

These are the blacks of Tuesday. But now that Obama has made his support for same sex marriage clear, what impact will this have on the blacks of Sunday?

In 2008 in California, the blacks of Tuesday voted for Barack Obama. But in the same election, the blacks of Sunday switched over and voted for Proposition 8, which directed that marriage be formally defined in the California state constitution as traditional marriage of man and woman.

After Obama spoke out for same sex marriage, those commonly identified as black America’s political leadership — Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Julian Bond, Joseph Lowery — immediately took public positions supporting the president’s stand.

But these leaders, who represent the political behavior of Tuesday blacks, are out of sync with grass-roots sentiment, which reflects the sentiments of Sunday blacks. According to Pew, 47 percent of Americans support legalization of same sex marriage, but only 39 percent of blacks and 33 percent of black Protestants do.

If there is a consensus on anything today, it’s that most Americans feel the country is on the wrong track. Where we part company is on the diagnosis of what is wrong.

There are big questions we must decide that will determine the kind of country our kids and grandkids will be living in.

There is no place where the dilemma is clearer than among black Americans.

Will America move more in the direction of the values of the blacks of Sunday or those of the blacks of Tuesday?

It’s time for black Americans to set and clarify their priorities and act in concert with them. The choices made today will impact not just their own future, but the future of our whole nation.

Star Parker