Madison Grant’s “The Passing of the Great Race” is considered by some to be the foundational work of racialist ideology in American history.
It purely disgusted me.
Not only is Grant a rabid anti-Christian (the book is filled with antagonistic remarks) he advocates a draconian plan of sterilization and promotes mass-abortions. On top of all that, he takes a strong stand against Irish independence, calling their desire for freedom a “longing after ancient and ill-perceived greatness.”
Grant wrote his book in 1916 (with subsequent revisions) and as a result, was able to help enact immigration and anti-miscegenation laws. According to George McDaniel of American Renaissance, Grant:
“…joined, chaired, and often founded [racialist] organizations. He counted among his closest associates U.S. Presidents, top industrialists, best-selling writers, and some of the greatest scientists of the time. And he wrote two of the seminal works of American racialism: The Passing of the Great Race (1916) and The Conquest of a Continent (1933).”
As disturbing as this book is (or should be) to racially self-conscious Christians, there are a few beneficial elements I think must be taken from it and if not accepted whole-sale, at least carefully considered.
Grant sees the human race as divided into three main types: The Caucasians, the Negroids, and the Mongoloids. Different anthropologists divide up the types differently. I believe Kant argues for twelve (in his book “Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View”) while Carleton S. Coon, in “The Races of Europe”, says five.
It seems plausible to me that Coons’ five, and Kant’s twelve, are sub-races of Grant’s three. As a young-Earth Creationist, I lean towards Grant’s position with the caveat that the three main family groups (types) correspond to Noah’s three sons.
Grant calls the Europeans a “subdivision of one of the primary groups or species of the genus Homo, which, taken together, we may call the Caucasian for lack of a better name.” pg. 32 Though, later, in chapter five, he argues that there is no real “Caucasian” race and to be precise, the term should be dropped.
What Grant means by a sub-division of one of the primary species of the genus Homo, is what, in my opinion, comes closest to describing the term “race” that is most often used on the colloquial level in today’s culture. (For a practical application of this: when we Christians say that races should not mix, we mean that Caucasians should not marry Negroids or Mongoloids. But we do not mean that the sub-Caucasian races cannot intermarry, ie: a Nordic can marry an Alpine.)
The Caucasian type is divided into three sub-races according to Grant: the Nordics, the Alpines and the Mediterraneans. His book is an attempt to describe the history of Europe in terms of the movement and interaction of these three racial groups.
His thesis is based on the idea of the immutability of somatological characteristics, which basically means, these three races, no matter the environment or socio-political context they are placed in, retain similar physical traits. This is based on the Mendelian Laws of Inheritance which say groups of characteristics (like skin tone, the bridge of the nose, shape of the feet, length of the body, and hair and eye color) called “unit characters” are transmitted from generation to generation in accordance with fixed laws.
However, he allows for “disharmonic combinations” after long periods of inter-mixing between similar races. Intermixing does not create hybrid races, however, it spawns a motley society of mixed character traits, for instance: a brunette with Nordic stature.
Mixing between highly contrasted races, however, when prolonged, will produce a hybrid race, (such as the “Mexicans” which are a combination of the European settlers and native Indian population). Grant, using Mexicans has his example, argues that the dominate traits are always lost in mixed relationships. If a white and an African marry, the child is African. If an Asian and African marry, the child is African. If a white and jew marry, the child is a jew and so on, prompting statements of this sort:
“Thus the view that the Negro slave was an unfortunate cousin of the white man, deeply tanned by the tropic sun and denied the blessings of Christianity and civilization, played no small part with the sentimentalists of the Civil War period and it has taken us fifty years to learn that speaking English, wearing good clothes and going to school and to church do not transform a Negro into a white man.” – pg. 16
“When it becomes thoroughly understood that the children of mixed marriages between contrasted races belong to the lower type, the importance of transmitting in unimpaired purity the blood inheritance of ages will be appreciated at its full value and to bring half breeds into the world will be regarded as a social and racial crime of the first magnitude. The laws against miscegenation must be greatly extended if the higher races are to be maintained.” pg. 60
While these sorts of statements seem intuitive (at least to a racially-self conscious Christian) we must cringe at the reasoning and worldview that gave birth to them in Grant’s mind.
The whole of chapter 4 is an argument for Eugenics: the forced sterilization of the “worthless classes” in society. (The lower 10 percent of whom, offer nothing but a financial strain on the rest and among whom abortion would wreak a controlling influence according to Grant).
By way of critique, it may be helpful to think in terms of the three sub-species of the genus “homo” as being Negroids, Caucasians, and Mongoloids, with various sub-races in each. Furthermore, Grant’s discussion of physical traits and their immutability through generations is helpful and interesting.
However, his ideals about how to deal with racial issues are most unhelpful.
While I do hope for a collective respect of God-ordained distinctions among men, we cannot deny the Imago Dei in other races. ALL men were created to serve the Glory of God, and His glory is reflected through the diversity inherent in us.
It is to maintain this diversity (instituted by God through the family and extended family-group) that we must advocate for separation of the races. Contrary to Grant, the Christian cannot advocate separation because he wants to see a particular race dominate the Earth nor should he advocate it in order to to “breed out” traits he finds unappealing.
That sort of attitude works for the destruction of God-ordained diversity every bit as much as that attitude of the neo-Marxist egalitarians; only, the non-Christian racialists (like Grant) want a white unanimity where the neo-Marxist egalitarians want a multi-racial or blended unanimity.
Both ideals are to be shunned in favor of a Christian view of human destiny where people from every race stand around the throne (respecting their distinctions) and praising God. The ultimate choir.