Date: Sun, 27 Nov 1994 09:22:21 -0600

[Norman Yetman <norm@falcon.cc.ukans.edu> writes:]

I've just read Gerhard Holford's testimony advocating the inclusion of the category "Germanic" in the Census. Without replying adequately to his entire testimony, let me say that his characterization of the experience of "persons of Germanic heritage" in the U.S. during the twentieth century as "ethnic cleansing" ignores the dramatic qualitative differences between pressures for ethnic assimilation (even forced assimilation) and the forcible expulsion of a people from its territory. The treatment of "persons of Germanic heritage" (which, given his inclusive use of this catedgory, would thus subsume a substantial numerical majority of the European origin population in the U.S; was U.S. policy in World War I thus perpetrated by "Germanics" [English-ancestry Americans] against Germanics?) can in no way be compared to the situation of rape, torture, terrorism, forced migration, and general violence carried today in Bosnia, where the term ethnic cleansing so precisely characterizing the expulsion of minorities apparently was first used.

Norm Yetman

American Studies and Sociology

The University of Kansas

Lawrence, KS 66045







Date: Fri, 2 Dec 1994 09:23:31 -0600

[DANIEL SOYER <74212.2700@compuserve.com> writes:]

It is striking that the "racial" categories proposed for people of European origin by T.J. Holford and the Conference of Americans of Germanic Heritage in their recently [posted] testimony on OMB 15 so closely resemble those categories developed around the turn of the century by Madison Grant and other racist thinkers. Grant's The Passing of the Great Race published in 1916, divided Europeans into three main races: Nordic, Alpine, Mediterranean, with a "few" cromagnons among the "Dordognois," and "traces" of Middle Paleolithics among the West Irish and "old black breed" of Scots. (Jews, of course, were not European at all and thus do not figure into the classification scheme.)

The fact that Grant so easily revised his book in support of the war effort in 1918, redefining modern Germans as Alpines rather than Nordics, should have shown how shaky was the "science" underlying his theories. Nevertheless, his work became influential during the post-war upsurge of racism and nativism.

One wonders to what extent groups like the Conference of Americans of Germanic Heritage are aware of this intellectual background. Whatever the shortcomings of the term "white" as an ethnic descriptor, the division of people of European background into several races would seeequally spurious today as it was 80 years ago.

It would be interesting to hear more about the Conference, its membership, and the degree to which it defines "Germanicness" as a racial rather than a linguistic or geographic trait.







Date: Fri, 2 Dec 1994 15:41:39 -0600

[Richard Jensen <CAMPBELLD@LYNX.APSU.EDU> writes:]

Re Germanic classification & OMB.

I have always looked at the government's classification scheme as primarily a device to identify "minorities" who would benefit from various minority programs. What defines a "minority" is a good question for this list.

The REASON for government benefits and protection is, it seems to me, primrily one criterion. I would venture this history-oriented definition:

An identifiable, closed ("ascriptive") group with a history of having suffered official government-sponsored or government-sanctioned maltreatment because of their identity.

On this definition, the German-Americans DO qualify as a minority, because they were the victims of a major government-sponsored campaign in WW1. The Mormons also qualify, but I don't recall any efforts they have made to be treated like a minority.

Richard Jensen

U of Illinois-Chicago





Date: Fri, 2 Dec 1994 17:06:57 -0600

[T. G. Holford <holford@VNET.IBM.COM> writes:]

Responding to on behalf of the Conference of Americans of

Germanic Heritage to DANIEL SOYER, who writes:

>It is striking that the "racial" categories proposed for people of European origin by T.J. Holford and the Conference of Americans of Germanic Heritage in their recently [posted] testimony on OMB 15 so closely resemble those categories developed around the turn of the century by Madison Grant and other racist thinkers. Grant's The Passing of the Great Race published in 1916, divided Europeans into three main races: Nordic, Alpine, Mediterranean, with a "few" cromagnons among the "Dordognois," and "traces" of Middle Paleolithics among the West Irish and "old black breed" of Scots. (Jews, of course, were not

European at all and thus do not figure into the classification scheme.)

>The fact that Grant so easily revised his book in support of the war effort in 1918, redefining modern Germans as Alpines rather than Nordics, should have shown how shaky was the "science" underlying his theories. Nevertheless, his work became influential during the post-war upsurge of racism and nativism.

The "racial" categories suggested by the Conference of Americans of Germanic Heritage are more or less those suggested by the author (whose name escapes me) of the book: "The Germanic People". The basis of the categorization, I understand, is primarily physiological differences in skeletal characteristics.

Beyond that, any similarity to racial classification schemes suggested by anyone else, racist or non-racist, is coincidence.

It is also important to note that we were speaking only for people of Germanic origin, and that in comparison to any other possibility, "Germanic" seems to be an apt "racial" designation. We were NOT speaking for Celtic, Slavic, or Mediterranean peoples, but only suggesting that those would be corresponding terms under this system of categorization. Their "racial" identification is for them to determine.

Keep in mind, that our "racial" and "ethnic" category proposals were in response to an OMB request for input on those specific topics. We did not solicit the question.

We are fully aware of the problematic nature of racial categories, but if the government says it intends to establish such categories, we thought it better to offer something that was at least superficially plausible and having some arguable scientific basis, than to say nothing and have them settle on something truly objectionable, e.g. "white".

The focus of the Conference of Americans of Germanic Heritage is on "ethnicity", which we define as the confluence of language, culture, and history. Our primary purpose in testifying was to provide meaningful input on "ethnic" categories.

>One wonders to what extent groups like the Conference of Americans of Germanic Heritage are aware of this intellectual background. Whatever the shortcomings of the term "white" as an ethnic descriptor, the division of people of European background into several races would seeequally spurious today as it was 80 years ago

We are not aware of the history of "racial" designations. We really have very little interest in such things, except when they are used against us in ways that smother our diversity. Slapping us with the quasi-racial label "white" is something we strongly object to.

>It would be interesting to hear more about the Conference, its membership, and the degree to which it defines "Germanicness" as a racial rather than a linguist ic or geographic trait.

I will assume that the thrust of you questioning is: does the

Conference of Americans of Germanic Heritage have a racially centered program?

The answer is unequivocally, categorically, flatly: NO.

Our agenda is simply "Building the Germanic Community in America". And part of our activities is fighting against stereotypes commonly applied to persons of Germanic origin or Germanic heritage. One of the most common and vicious stereotypes is that Germans are "racist" or "white supremacist". This is the residue of wartime propaganda, and we actively fight against it.

It is astonishing that in our multi-cultural society today, just about any ethnic group can celebrate their ethnic identity without any questions being raised, but whenever a person of German heritage expresses his or her ethnic identity, all the old vicious stereotypes are immediately dredged up.

I will send a separate information file on the Conference of Americans of Germanic Heritage to the moderator, and he can decide whether to post it or not.

Gerhard Holford

Co-moderator

Conference of Americans of Germanic Heritage

-------------------------------------------------------------------

Gerhard Holford |phone: (408)995-6545

|fax: (408)268-9535

|internet: GermnHertg@aol.com

-------------------------------------------------------------------







Date: Sun, 4 Dec 1994 09:33:47 -0600

[Margo J Anderson <margo@CSD.UWM.EDU> writes, first quoting Richard Jensen:]

>Re Germanic classification & OMB.

>I have always looked at the government's classification scheme as primarily a device to identify "minorities" who would benefit from various minority programs. What defines a "minority" is a good question for this list. The REASON for government benefits and protection is, it seems to me, primrily one criterion. I would venture this history-oriented definition: An identifiable, closed ("ascriptive") group with a history of having suffered official government-sponsored or government-sanctioned maltreatment because of their identity. On this definition, the German-Americans DO qualify as a minority, because they were the victims of a major government-sponsored campaign in WW1. The Mormons also qualify, but I don't recall any efforts they have made to be treated like a minority.

A few more refinements: Mormon is a religious category. Federal statistical agencies have resisted collecting information on religious affiliation of individuals because of the constitutional separation of church and state.

Rather than "government sponsored" or "government sanctioned" maltreatment, I might suggest "legislatively sanctioned maltreat ment of a demographic group." The "maltreatment" of the Germans during World War I was justified on grounds of disloyalty and national security (alien status), not "ethnic" status. Had it continued after the war as "ethnic" discrimination, then there would be a claim for a categorization. This may seem like splitting hairs, but it does explain why the claim hasn't been made.

Finally, since the 1960s, groups have "lobbied" for designation as we are seeing now. Earlier ethnic and racial designations of populations were prompted by government administrative actions: regulation of immigration, administration of the laws on slavery, or voting, or occupational licensing.

Margo Anderson

UW-Milwaukee







Date: Sun, 4 Dec 1994 15:17:57 -0600

[Richard Jensen writes:]

My definition of "minority" (for government purposes):

An identifiable, closed ("ascriptive") group with a history of having suffered official government-sponsored or government-sanctioned maltreatment because of their identity.

Margo Anderson adds some useful points. But I think religion IS covered as a protective category, whether or not the feds collect statistics on it. Federal antidiscrimination codes began I suppose in 1941 and would run something like "race, religion or national origin". Women were added in 1965, and the attempt to include gays began in the 1980s. But the group has to be "closed" or ascriptive." In practical terms, religious groups are reasonably closed.

One interesting definitional debate recently has been about gays. There is no debate about government-sanctioned maltreatment. Those who want gays treated as a minority insist that gayness is natural/inherent/biological/inevitable. The opponents say no, it's a freely chosen behavior, hence not ascriptive, hence not eligible for protection.

Richard Jensen, u08946@uicvm.uic.edu

U of Illinois-CHicago









Date: Sun, 4 Dec 1994 15:18:04 -0600

[Mae Ngai <mn53@columbia.edu> writes:]

Holford's explanation of "germanic" as a racial and ethnic category are

problematic in several respects-

1. theories which use skull measurements to determine race are largely discredited. this variant of scientific racism is not really scientific because the characteristics supposedly attributable to one "race" are predetermined and then "proven" when the selected characteristics are then "found."

2. ethnicity is not the same as race. while the latter is spurious as a biological category, the former is a cultural construction based on common historical experiences. ethnicity often overlaps with, but is not in my opinion, the same as, nationality, which is a social identity based on participation in the nation-state. in the 19th and early 20th century, race and nationality were frequently conflated. (See Higham's _Strangers in the Land_) Ethnicity is, i believe, a sociological category invented as late as the 1960s (by Glazer and Moynihan) and is weighted towards the subjective, that is, it is a concept based on group self-identity.

3. "white" in the united states has an interesting history. "white" is not a "race" but it is a racial identity taken by americans of european descent in order to distinguish themselves from african americans, native americans, the chinese, and other racially debased groups. early english settlers did not call themselves "white" until slavery was well established (according to Winthrop Jordon in _White over Black_, the word "white" does not enter the colonial vocabulary until about 1680). "white" is an identity undertaken within the assumptions of a racist society. irish immigrants in the mid 19th century, for example, were initially treated by americans as a racially inferior group because of the history of british subjugation of ireland. the irish rather quickly learned to identify themselves as "white" in order to locate a social position above african americans. See David Roediger, _Wages of Whiteness_.

4.. it is understandable that german-americans are offended at being classified by the government as "white." but why substitute one racial category for another?

mae ngai

history

columbia univ.







Date: Mon, 5 Dec 1994 07:01:19 -0600

[Margo Anderson <margo@CSD.UWM.EDU> replies to Richard Jensen:]

> [Richard Jensen writes:]

>My definition of "minority" (for government purposes):

An identifiable, closed ("ascriptive") group with a history of having suffered official government-sponsored or government-sanctioned maltreatment because of their identity. Margo Anderson adds some useful points. But I think religion IS covered as a protective category, whether or not the feds collect statistics on it. Federal antidiscrimination codes began I suppose in 1941 and would run something like race, religion or national origin". Women were added in 1965, and the attempt to include gays began in the 1980s. But the group has to be "closed" or ascriptive." In practical terms, religious groups are reasonably closed. One interesting definitional debate recently has been about gays. There is no debate about government-sanctioned maltreatment. Those who want gays treated as a minority insist that gayness is natural/inherent/biological/inevitable. The opponents say no, it's a freely chosen behavior, hence not ascriptive, hence not eligible for protection.

More clarification: my comments were only directed to omb15, which is the federal government's official racial/ethnic classification. Discrimination law covers other statuses: e.g., sex, age, national origin, religion.

Boy, does this get complicated,

Margo Anderson,

UW-Milwaukee







Date: Mon, 5 Dec 1994 07:01:23 -0600

[Jaime Aguila <JAIME.R.AGUILA@ASU.EDU> writes:]

This is in reply to Richard Jensen's comments on defining minorities. I find his logic bothersome and offensive since he is trying to equate injustices aimed at Germans and Mormons, groups that are predominantly "White" or European, as the same as such groups as African Americans and Mexican Americans-groups that have been the targets of racism for hundreds of years by Europeans, especially since the colonial eras of the United States and Mexico. I do not believe the use of government classifications was initially intended for the use of giving beneficial treatment to certain groups of people in the United States. Though it is certainly used in this manner there are many other logical uses for these classifications such as tracking immigration waves and blaming specific minority groups for the economic problems of California. The question of what the original purpose of this type of classification was intented for, might be a good one to ask of this H-list.

Jaime Aguila

History Department

Arizona State University 85287-2501

(602) 965-5773









Date: Mon, 5 Dec 1994 09:12:19 -0600

[Richard Jensen replies to Jaime Aguila:]

[Jaime Aguila wrote earlier on 12/5:]"This is in reply to Richard Jensen's comments on defining minorities. I find his logic bothersome and offensive...."

It's real easy to take offense these days, but on H-ETHNIC I hope we can all be professionals and analyze technical and historical issues. Here's another historical generalization which I think is true-though it might perhaps upset some people:

MOST ethno-religious groups in America have a sense of being victims. That is, they have now as part of their cultural heritage the memory of government-endorsed maltreatment. (Usually, the groups can also specify other groups that inflicted the maltreatment on them.) How central that memory of victimization happens to be will vary a good deal over time.

Some of the groups I have in mind: the New England Pilgrims and Puritans, the Scottish Presbyterians, most Germans (especially the German Lutherans), the Mormons, and the Southern Baptists as well. (Lumping all their descendants together, I believe these groups cover a majority of the WASP population in the USA.) (Southern whites from 1865 to post WW2 also demonstrated a strong sense of victimization, but that did not include a religious dimension, in my opinion.)

So welcome to the new USA: where the non-victims are a shrinking little group.

Richard Jensen, u08946@uicvm.uic.edu

U of Illinois-Chicago







Date: Mon, 5 Dec 1994 18:40:47 -0600

[Bob Slayton <slayton@NEXUS.CHAPMAN.EDU> writes:]

Richard Jensen's comment to the effect that everyone is a victim raises a number of issues. Let me ask a question, agree on some things, and strongly disagree on others.

First, one of the most important issues for us should be where the

current system of classification came from. The most important categories,

of course, are those used by the census. The data I have used from the

turn of the century only listed national origin; I assume the modern system

came in during the 1960s or 1970s. Does anyone know when, and the reason

why it was adapted? [See note at end of posting.]

Agreement: there are many stories of pain that are overlooked. If you look closely at Irving Allen's numerous works on ethnic and racial slurs, the group that has one of the largest (possibly the largest-memory fails me) number of epithets, is Southern whites. Wayne Miller's excellent anthology, A Gathering of Ghetto Writers, also worked hard to show the links, that many groups have had their share of problems.

Having said all that, I still believe that much of what Professor Jensen wrote is problematic. I would argue that the experience, the pain if you will, of certain groups within the American experience is substantively different from that of other groups' experiences.

I have two standards for this. One is the extent and duration of suffering. Was there prejdice against Southern Baptists? Yes; just read Rhys Issacs. Should we study this? Absolutely. Should we categorize them as special because of this? I don't think so; my sense is that the discrimination occurred for only a relatively brief time, after which Baptists entered the mainstream. On the other hand we have groups like African-Americans and Jews, just to name a couple of examples, who have faced prejudice since the colonial period, and still encounter it today on a large scale.

My second point of analysis is that the larger record must be examined, the long-term history of a group. If we only look at a single moment, then any and all groups become victims, and oppressors as well. Instead, we must see what kinds of actions and ideologies groups have taken during an extended period.

Two examples come to mind: Southern poor whites were clearly exploited. However, they also participated fully and enthusiastically and for a long time in the Jim Crow system. It would be folly to ignore their exploitation, but it would also be a bit difficult to simply label them as "victims".

A smaller example would be the American Legion and its core membership, veterans. There is no question in my mind that veterans have been mistreated at various times in our history, nor is there any doubt that the Legion has done much useful work advocating for thsi group of what we have been referring to as "victims". But the Legion also has a long history of extreme anti-radicalism that often smacked of vigilatiism, and that was rife in violations of constitutional rights. It is hard to describe the Legion, therefore, as a group representing victims.

I guess my larger point is that Jensen's net was too broad, and missed important analytical and other kinds of differences.

Robert Slayton

Department of History

Chapman University

slayton@neus.chapman.edu

[Co-moderator's note: For good overviews of federal census categories and

INS designations, see William Petersen's article on "Concepts of Ethnicity,"

234-242, and Charles A. Price's entry on "Methods of Estimating," 1033-44,

both in Stephan A. Thernstrom et al., *Harvard Encyclopedia of American

Ethnic Groups* (1980). JB]







Date: Tue, 6 Dec 1994 07:00:51 -0600

[Jaime Aguila <JAIME.R.AGUILA@ASU.EDU> writes:]

This is in reply to Richard Jensen's reply. I agree that all issues can be discussed in a profesional manner, so I retract my offendedness but am still bothered.

The original question asked, if I remember correctly, was- did the US government create the use of minority labeling ( for lack of a better term) for the purpose of giving groups that have been discriminated against, governemnt sponsored preferential treatment. If this was the case many groups in our country fall into this category.

I do not wish to get into a discussion over matters of degree, but my point was that Mexican Americans and African Americans in this country from the outset of their joining the United States have been the victims of continual discrimination from both governemnt sponsored sources and society. Unlike other groups that in time assimilate into mainstream society, Mexican Americans and African Americans are not allowed this similar opportunity due to their physical apperance. Of course assimilation is a hot topic in Mexican American communities because of a need to retain our heritage and culture and still allow for the best opportunities for upward mobility within the United States. I do not speak for African Americans because I am not qualified to do so but suspect similar situations.

Jaime Aguila

History Department

Arizona State University 85287-2501

(602) 965-5773









Date: Tue, 6 Dec 1994 08:05:52 -0600

[DANIEL SOYER <74212.2700@compuserve.com> writes:]

I agree whole-heartedly with Gerhard Holford of the Conference of Americans of Germanic Heritage that no one should argue that German culture or people of German heritage are in any way inherently racist. I certainly did not mean to do so when I noted that the racial classification scheme proposed by the Conference during the OMB 15 hearings bore a striking resemblance to the categories of such (Anglo-) American racist thinkers as Madison Grant. (Although I would argue that characterizations of the German government during World War II as racist were more than "wartime propaganda," as Mr. Holford implies.) Neither should anyone object to the promotion of ethnic pride and identity, Germanic or otherwise. But it seems somehow inconsistant for a group whose mission is to promote ethnicity, defined as a "confluence of language, culture, and history," to propose a classification scheme based on "physiological differences in skeletal characteristics." Mr. Holford writes that he and his group "really have very little interest" in "the history of 'racial' designations." Perhaps developing such an interest would help them avoid making arguments with such unfortunate intellectual affinity to the bankrupt ideas of the past. I cannot think of a better reason for the study of history.







Date: Tue, 6 Dec 1994 15:32:39 -0600

[Manny Avalos writes:]

This is in regards to the Richard Jensen comment and subsequent comments by others. I've been thinking about this and I think to some extent everyone is missing the boat on this. Maybe because I'm a social scientist I look at the question of racial classification differently. Historically the use of racial classification systems have been used to establish racial hierarchial/stratification systems in the Americas. Majority or superordinate groups have always used race and particularly color of skin (phenotype) as mechanisms to define others as different and inferior. Classification systems based on race/ethnicity have always been used as a way of maintaining hierarchical stratification systems of subordination by white Europeans.

There are a number of ways in which we can define the terms racial, ethnic or minority groups. I prefer Feagin and Feagin's definition, "We will define a racial group as a social group that persons inside or outside the group have decided is important to single out as inferior or superior, typically on the basis of real or alledged physical characteristics subjectively selected (1993, p. 7).

I also prefer to make a distinction between racial group and minority group. The later term is defined in terms of subordinate position, by Louis Wirth I think, as a group of people who, because of their physical or cultural characteristics, are single out from others in the society in which they live for differential and unequal treatment and who therefore regard themselves as objects of collective discrimination.

The reason governments like ours (and in fact many countries including Canada do not use racial classification systems on their census) classify persons by race and ethnicity is certainly not for the purpose of counting. While today it has implications for entitlement programs I would argue that it really is a mechanism used to maintain hierarchial systems of white majority dominance over minority populations.

There is a really fine article published in the July 24, 1994 issue of _The New Yorker_, by Lawrence Wright, "One Drop of Blood" which discusses many of these issues surronding the debate of OMB directive 15 and the use of racial classifications. I would highly recommend that persons interested in this debate take a look at the article.

-- (Manny Avalos) (602 543-6044) Social and Behavioral

Sciences, Arizona State University West, P.O. Box 37100,

Phoenix, AZ 85069-7100

Bitnet: IDMXA @ ASUACAD; Internet: IDMXA @ ASUVM.INRE.ASU.EDU

[Co-moderator's note: Manny Avalos's reference is to Joe R. Feagin and

Clairece Booher Feagin, Discrimination American style: institutional racism

and sexism, 3d ed. (1993) JB]





Date: Wed, 7 Dec 1994 08:18:23 -0600

[Adil Qureshi <asquresh@SCF.USC.EDU> writes:]

With regard to Richard Jensen's thoughts, I was pleased to read Manny Avola's comments. The notion that we all of us are victims is, i think, the sort of thing that can often serve to distract from a more powerful notion: that victimization is very much a function of lacking access to power/resources. It appears to be somewhat fashionable for white men to complain that we are the "new" victims of the p.c. police and so on. but the fact of the matter, in my humble opinion, is that we still have principle control of power/resources, or, in foucault's perspective, we continue to be optimally situated.

"race" becomes an interesting category only when it is made so by the distribution of power in the socio-political network, that is, when we differentiate on the basis of race. but to simply "ignore" race presently, to say: "i have no race," would be to in effect ignore racism. Racial Identity Theory, as put forth by Janet Helms, Robert Carter, and others (both are in the field of counseling psychology) deals with this issue quite effectively, particularly for those of us in psychology. The thing is that Southern Whites, Baptist or otherwise, may be in some ways maligned, but they are not essentially denied access to power and resources.

Adil Qureshi

Dept.of Counseling Psychology

University of Southern California

asqursh@scf.usc.edu