in Concentration Camps on the Home Front

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780226354767
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226354774 | DOI:

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This chapter focuses on U.S. Representative John Rankin, who frequently captured the spirit of mainstream American political discourse in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Forging alliances with members of Congress from the North and the West, he helped shape legislation both on the floor and behind the scenes at a distinctive juncture in the nation's history, when nationalist and imperialist expansion became ever more tightly intertwined with racism, xenophobia, and anti-communism. Linking proponents of racial equality to sexual perversion and national subversion, Rankin implicitly supported the deeds of deadly white lynch mobs as a legitimate means of racial control. He thwarted federal anti-lynching legislation; he promoted the first major congressional anti-communist initiative, the House Un-American Activities Committee; and he applied the South's Jim Crow principles, targeting African Americans, to the new territory of Hawaii, championing the segregation of white and all nonwhite races on a global scale. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he proved an influential adversary of Hawaiian statehood, and he went on to argue early and often for Japanese American incarceration during World War II.

Keywords: John Rankin; political discourse; racism; white lynch mobs; Jim Crow; Hawaii; segregation; Japanese American incarceration

Chapter.  8233 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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