Recent news reports about the lifting of censorship of the publication of Mein Kampf in Germany indicate that the events of the early twentieth century cast a long shadow. In this essay I continue my series “The Future in 1916” by exploring the writings of Madison Grant, arguably the most influential American eugenicist to give early shape to Adolph Hitler’s approach to science and race. I argue that this is an important moment to place another nail in the coffin of biological theories of race and their poisonous social policy progeny, the eugenics movement.
Ideological Background: Scientific Racism
The English translation of Arthur de Gobineau’s Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races (originally published in France 1853–55) only appeared on the American scene in 1915, but its pervasive ideology of degeneration had already become diffuse in transatlantic thought by the early twentieth century. De Gobineau’s warnings fit hand in glove with fears of immigrants and the crafting of social policies to restrict the immigration and procreation of those deemed “unfit” by American nativists. He influentially declared:
The word degenerate, when applied to a people, means (as it ought to mean) that the people has no longer the same intrinsic value as it had before, because it has no longer the same blood in its veins, continual adulterations having gradually affected the quality of that blood. In other words, though the nation bears the name given by its founders, the name no longer connotes the same race; in fact, the man of a decadent time, the degenerate man properly so called, is a different being, from the racial point of view, from the heroes of the great ages.
The Great War was often decried for its “dysgenic” effects. The era bespoke intensified nationalistic ideologies and American elites’ fears of the rapid immigration of eastern and southern Europeans of “inferior stock.” The moment was ripe for a narrative designed to tap into those fears and give them sweeping expression. The person for such a moment was Madison Grant.
The Making of Madison Grant
Madison Grant (1865–1937) was an attorney and zoologist with many wide-ranging interests. In 1895 he aided in the establishment of the New York Zoological Society. His interest in flora and fauna led him into relationships with like-minded conservation enthusiasts such as Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Fairfield Osborn. All three men were proponents of the rising eugenics movement. Grant was a major force in the creation of parks in the New York metropolitan area. His geographical reach was vast, as he was instrumental in founding the American Bison Society (1905) and the Save-the-Redwoods League (1919).
Today Grant is better known as a virulent promoter of eugenics and scientific racism. He served as president of the Immigration Restriction League from 1922 to 1937 and used his legal skills to pass sweeping immigration restriction with the landmark 1924 National Origins act, commonly known as the Johnson Immigration Restriction Act. In quasi-Darwinian fashion, Grant believed the rigors of American expansion across the continent exemplified the survival of the fittest and weeded out “weaklings.” Ironically, given the importance in his ideology for elites to have superior progeny, Grant never married or had children.
Grant’s Scientific Racism
The issue of race over the last century has been variously described by social commentators either in terms of biological heredity or in terms of cultural or social construction. Grant embraced at the outset of his book the hereditary definition of race: “We must, first of all, realize that race pure and simple, the physical and psychical structure of man, is something entirely distinct from either nationality or language.” Later scholars would begin to dismantle race as a biological construct by means of anthropological studies as well as theological critiques. A century later, with increasing insight from the Human Genome Project, we are beginning to appreciate afresh just how wrong-headed is a biologically defined category of race, let alone the notion of superior and inferior biological races.
Much of Grant’s book surveyed European history, including its colonial expansions, to ferret out examples of the deleterious effects of the mixing of races. He even reached deep into the misty past with chapters devoted to discerning the racial patterns in Eolithic man, Paleolithic man, and the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. He then explored the differences within Europe between ostensibly distinct Alpine, Mediterranean, and Nordic races, devoting a chapter to each. The last third of the book was designed to sing the praises of “Teutonic Europe” or “the Nordic Fatherland” in an effort to undergird his preconceived dogma of Nordic supremacy. Three chapters (“Arya,” “The Origin of Aryan Languages,” and “The Aryan Language in Asia”) set forth the terminology for the notion of the Aryan Race so notably exploited into prominence in the German context over the ensuing three decades.
Grant’s rhetoric gave voice to strains of white fears over the rising number of immigrants in urban America. For example, he bemoaned the deterioration of Nordic man’s influence in the cities of England, where “the cramped factory and crowded city quickly weeds him out.” This racial representation he set in contrast with “the little brunet [sic] Mediterranean” who “can work a spindle, set type, sell ribbons, or push a clerk’s pen far better than the big clumsy and somewhat heavy Nordic blond.” The northern European individual, needing “exercise, meat, and air,” was for Grant ill-suited to urban life, and he described him as one who “cannot live under Ghetto conditions.” Such candid phrasing should have moved Grant to question, even if momentarily, the putative superiority of the Nordic race for the life required in modern society generally, given the strong demographic trends toward urban life. Instead, his findings raised an alarm similar to the fear-mongering literature popular at the time decrying the specter of “race suicide.”
Grant perceived himself as a scientist and a modernist in contradistinction to benighted souls still laboring under the delusion of religious faith. “In the modern and scientific study of race we have long since discarded the Adamic theory that man is descended from a single pair, created a few thousand years ago in a mythical Garden of Eden somewhere in Asia, to spread later over the earth in successive waves,” he asserted. Nineteenth-century theologians and scientists had long debated polygenism (multiple origins of the races) versus monogenism (a single origin of the races). Grant’s polygenic position, by 1916, was quite out of favor both theologically and scientifically. Nonetheless, it was a necessary adjunct to his ideological division of humanity into superior and inferior races.
Grant sneered at environmental explanations for inequities among the races regarding ability or achievement: “There exists today a widespread and fatuous belief in the power of environment, as well as of education and opportunity to alter heredity, which arises from the dogma of the brotherhood of man, derived in its turn from the loose thinkers of the French Revolution and their American mimics.” Not a very astute historian, Grant failed to recognize the ancient roots of the “brotherhood of man” concept in the Judeo-Christian scriptures. Like many eugenics enthusiasts of his day, he held that “such beliefs have done much damage in the past and if allowed to go uncontradicted, may do even more serious damage in the future.” He took his opposition to charity work even further by disparaging efforts to clothe, educate, and church African Americans, dismissing such efforts as impotent to “transform a Negro into a white man.” In the ominous conclusion to The Passing of the Great Race, Grant criticized the “maudlin sentimentalism” that had rendered America “an asylum for the oppressed.” This melting-pot mentality for Grant was disastrous, and he declaimed that such a mindset was “sweeping the nation toward a racial abyss.”
To state that Grant was strongly against racial mixing would be grossly to understate his visceral detestation of racial impurity. Grant declared: “Whether we like to admit it or not, the result of the mixture of two races, in the long run, gives us a race reverting to the more ancient, generalized, and lower type.” In a phrase influential on the racialist policies of the Third Reich, he added “the cross between any of the three European races and a Jew is a Jew.” A year later, prominent eugenicist Charles B. Davenport, director of the American Eugenics Society, would similarly criticize “miscegenation.” In a paternalistic turn, Davenport tried to make his views seem benevolent by insisting: “A hybridized people are a badly put-together people and a dissatisfied, restless, ineffective people.”
Many of Grant’s racialist notions were built on phrenology, or the sorting of human races by the shapes of their skulls. He also tried to co-opt Mendelian genetic insights into a phrenological outlook: “We now know, since the elaboration of the Mendelian Laws of Inheritance, that certain bodily characters, such as skull shape, stature, eye color, hair color and nose form, some of which are so-called unit characters, are transmitted in accordance with fixed laws. . . .” He added that mixing of races led to impure strains yielding “disharmonic combinations.” Phrenologists and craniologists believed they could discern intellectual acumen from the contours of human skulls, sorted by greater and lesser intellectual capacities as inferred by the size of the brain cavity. By Grant’s day this theory was well on its way to the ash heap of pseudoscience, but he remained convinced of its scientific probity.
In a fashion akin to the stratification of the human race by numerous nineteenth-century ethnographers, Grant continued to contrast “Negroids” and “Mongoloids” against the three European races (Nordic, Alpine, and Mediterranean). Yet from a biological standpoint, the potential for interbreeding among all these categories of persons was one of many factors necessitating a deconstruction of scientific racism, even nearly a century before the Human Genome Project. The malleability of the term “race” was also a problem. “Race” was then a protean term that could refer to the totality of the human race or to various cultures or ethnicities. As Donal E. Muir states: “Any who would persist in presenting race as physiological would appear obligated to indicate which genes or phenotypic markers they have employed. For some of these, the resultant visit to the biology section of the library or a chat with a geneticist might be enlightening.” In the second decade of the twentieth century there were geneticists who were enthused about eugenics to be sure, but that support would erode significantly in the 1920s and 1930s as eugenics enthusiasts made too many exaggerated claims in the name of genetics. Tragically for the West, the die had been cast for the worst human rights abuses in history in the name of scientific progress.
Flaws in Grant’s Argument
Problematic for Grant’s preference of heredity over environment was his chapter on climate. One exasperating development he cited involved the struggle to adapt, as experienced by the allegedly superior northern European peoples, when they were transplanted to a more temperate climate. Grant lamented that “continuous sunlight affects adversely the delicate nervous organization of the Nordics.” The crippling blow such an admission delivered to his overall argument for Nordic superiority seemed to have escaped his grasp.
More problematic still for the doctrine of white supremacy so cherished by Madison Grant was the case of “the poor whites of the Cumberland Mountains in Kentucky and Tennessee.” The altitude of their mountain residency “though moderate, should modify the effects of latitude” and thus favor those of Nordic stock. Yet it was not producing this expected outcome. This problem for his theory Grant summarily dismissed with the hand waving faith that “there are probably other hereditary forces at work there as yet little understood.” Forced back on environmental factors (earlier denigrated by Grant’s hardcore and doctrinaire hereditarianism), Grant had to concede that “bad food and economic conditions, prolonged inbreeding, and the loss through emigration of the best elements have played a large part in the degeneration of these poor whites.” The serious blow such a concession had delivered to his hereditarian dogma, however, remained unnoticed in Madison Grant’s fervor to promote Nordic supremacy.
Another damning development for Grant’s theory of hereditary Nordic supremacy was the susceptibility of the “Nordic race” to alcoholism and consumption. “Both these dread scourges unfortunately attack those members of the race that are otherwise most desirable . . .” Yet the manifestation of both these maladies required environmental conditions and not mere heredity. The inability of the Nordic physiological constitution to thrive in such conditions should already have called into question the veracity of the superiority ostensibly possessed.
A chapter tellingly titled “The Competition of Races” set the stage for the full expression of Grant’s Nordic supremacism. The topic also raised the ideology of eugenics to the fore. Herbert Spencer’s “survival of the fittest” played a role in statements such as the following: “Where altruism, philanthropy or sentimentalism intervene with the noblest purpose and forbid nature to penalize the unfortunate victims of reckless breeding, the multiplication of inferior types is encouraged and fostered.” Legalization of birth control, regulation of the number of offspring, elimination of “defective infants,” and sterilization of adults “of no value to the community” rounded out Grant’s public policy prescriptions for race purification. Grant launched a frontal assault on notions of Christian charity in the name of modern eugenics. Such “indiscriminate” charity, to Madison Grant, did “more injury to the race than black death or smallpox.”
Chilling indeed is the perspective of history. We know the German translation of The Passing of the Great Race was so dear to Adolph Hitler the he called it his “Bible.” The following passage by Grant projected the ideological groundwork for atrocities to come: “A rigid system of selection through the elimination of those who are weak or unfit—in other words, social failures—would solve the whole question in a century, as well as enable us to get rid of the undesirables who crowd our jails, hospitals, and insane asylums.” Grant proceeded to stretch the projected program beyond its original scope, i.e., “extending gradually to types which may be called weaklings rather than defectives and perhaps ultimately to worthless race types.” Within the next quarter century the notion of the “survival of the fittest” would be carried out with ruthless and devastating efficiency on the European continent by the Third Reich. In a landmark study of the connections between American eugenics and the German race hygiene movement, Stefan Kühl writes: “The group of eugenicists who voiced the strongest support for Nazi Germany was clustered around racial anthropologists Madison Grant, Lothrop Stoddard, and Clarence G. Campbell.” Some Germans were disappointed that Grant was more pro-Nordic than enthused about “German blood” and criticized his downplaying of German contributions to American society. Yet on the inferiority of non-European races, and particularly Jews, there was broad agreement between Grant and Third Reich scientists. The Nazis would use the term Untermenschen, or “subhuman,” to designate a long list of persons deemed eugenically unfit. Yet this idea’s alleged scientific grounding, voiced more fully and stridently in Mein Kampf, was, in the words of historian Charles Bracelen Flood “a false and meaningless racial ‘science.’”
Any citizenry ought to be concerned about its nation’s immigration policy and ought to insist that immigration policy operate on a rational basis. Scientific racism, however, is not a rational basis for an immigration policy, and we must take pains to distance ourselves from any taint of such earlier diabolical mentalities. Other factors, such as the skills needed for an effective and competitive workforce, a humane, orderly, predictable and workable plan for entrance to our fair land, would provide far more useful criteria for the establishment of a sane public policy.
The fears evoked by the renewed publication and availability of Mein Kampf in Germany may be understood better by attending to the context of the rise of neo-Nazi activity in that land. Incited by the influx of Middle Eastern refugees in 2015, extremist groups have reacted with widely condemned acts of violence. It was a century ago when Madison Grant took pen to paper to set forth the ideology of biologized racism that would animate Hitler’s pursuit of a final solution. The shadows of that ideology remain and call forth our continuing vigilance in an effort to expose toxic propaganda and distortive uses of science in the West to buttress genetic prejudices. In this way, we can reaffirm the plea of Holocaust survivors to “never forget.”
Dennis L. Durst is Associate Professor of Theology at Kentucky Christian University.
 See Madeline Chambers, “Re-print of Hitler’s Mein Kampf Unleashes Row in Germany,” Reuters, December 23, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-germany-hitler-idUSKBN0U61AB20151223. I agree with the educators in this debate that, despite the risks, censorship is a worse approach to this work than shining a bright light of scrutiny on its abysmal contents.
 Arthur de Gobineau, The Inequality of Human Races, trans. Adrian Collins (1915; repr. New York: Howard Fertig, 1967), 25.
 The best intellectual biography of Grant is Jonathan Peter Spiro, Defending the Master Race: Conservation, Eugenics, and the Legacy of Madison Grant (Burlington: University of Vermont Press, 2008).
 “In Mein Kampf, Hitler wrote of the Immigration Restriction Act with the greatest enthusiasm, saying that it would serve as a model for his program of racial purification” (Ashley Montagu, The Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race, 6th ed. [London: Altamira Press, 1997], 282).
 Kathy J. Cooke, “Grant, Madison,” in American National Biography (Oxford University Press, 1999), 9:411–12. Woodrow Wilson is also known for prejudicial views of race relations. See W. R. Keylor, “The Long-Forgotten Racial Attitudes and Policies of Woodrow Wilson,” Professor Voices (blog), Boston University, March 4, 2013, http://www.bu.edu/professorvoices/2013/03/04/the-long-forgotten-racial-attitudes-and-policies-of-woodrow-wilson/.
 Madison Grant, The Passing of the Great Race or The Racial Basis of European History (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1916), xiv.
 Franz Boas, Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University, was the key critic of scientific racism in the Progressive Era. He stood up again and again against discrimination toward Jews, blacks, and various disfavored immigrant groups by racist elites. His books The Mind of Primitive Man (1911) and Anthropology and Modern Life (1928), as well as his editorship of the Journal of American Folklore (1908–1925), contributed greatly to his influence in the academic world. On Boas’s influence as an antieugenicist, see Daniel J. Kevles, In the Name of Eugenics (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995), 134–37; Hamilton Cravens, “Scientific Racism in the U.S., 1870–1920,” Prospects 91 (1996): 480–82; and Carl Degler, In Search of Human Nature: The Decline and Revival of Darwinism in American Social Thought (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 61–104. For a theological critique of scientific racism in the 1920s, during intense US immigration restriction debates, see missiologist Robert E. Speer, Race and Race Relations: A Christian View of Human Contacts (New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1924).
 See Charmaine D. M. Royal and Georgia M. Dunston, “Changing the Paradigm from ‘Race’ to Human Genome Variation,” supplement, Nature Genetics 36, no. S11 (2004): S5–S7, http://www.nature.com/ng/journal/v36/n11s/full/ng1454.html.
 Grant, Passing of the Great Race, 186.
 For a recent treatment of the benefits of urban life, see Edward Glaeser, Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier (New York: Penguin, 2011).
 Grant used this term (pp. 43, 46) and “class suicide” (pp. 178, 200). See also articles by eugenicist John Harvey Kellogg in his popular magazine Good Health, e.g., “Deterioration in Great Britain,” Good Health 39 (1904): 332; “The Race Growing Old,” Good Health 41 (1906): 668; “Recent Facts Regarding the Growing Prevalence of Race Degeneracy,” Good Health 48 (1913): 123; “Mendel’s Law of Heredity and Race Degeneration,” Good Health 45 (1910): 737.
 Grant, Passing of the Great Race, 11.
 See David N. Livingstone, “The Origin and Unity of the Human Race,” in The History of Science and Religion in the Western Tradition: An Encyclopedia, ed. Gary B. Ferngren (New York: Garland, 2000), 452–57. Theologian Robert Speer defended the unity of the origins of the human race (Speer, Race and Race Relations, 11). Primary resource readings from scientific racists Samuel G. Morton, Louis Agassiz, and Josiah Nott may be found in Louis Ruchames, ed., Racial Thought in America, vol. 1, From the Puritans to Abraham Lincoln: A Documentary History (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1969), 441–500.
 Grant, Passing of the Great Race, 14.
 Ibid., 228.
 Ibid., 16.
 Cited in Garland E. Allen, “The Misuse of Biological Hierarchies: The American Eugenics Movement, 1900–1940,” History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 5 (1983): 113.
 Grant, Passing of the Great Race, 11–12.
 On the rise of phrenology and its influence among eugenicists, see Victor L. Hilts, “Obeying the Laws of Hereditary Descent: Phrenological Views on Inheritance and Eugenics,” Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 18 (1982): 62–77; and Ann Fabian, The Skull Collectors: Race, Science, and America’s Unburied Dead (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010). Hilts observes of the phrenologists: “They shared with eugenicists the conviction that the key to human progress lies in the improvement of man’s biological endowment by attention to breeding, and they feared, as did the eugenicists, the possibility of racial degeneration” (73). See also the classic rebuttal of phrenology, Stephen Jay Gould’s Mismeasure of Man, rev. ed. (New York: W. W. Norton, 1996), 19–175; 351–64. More recent research on the topic is sketched in the article “Skulls in Print: Scientific Racism in the Transatlantic World,” University of Cambridge Research News, accessed January 4, 2016, http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/skulls-in-print-scientific-racism-in-the-transatlantic-world. Historian of science Frank N. Egerton avers that “The last serious attempt to defend phrenology was W. Mathieu Williams’s A Vindication of Phrenology (1894)” (Frank N. Egerton, “Phrenology and Physiognomy,” in The Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science, ed. J. L. Heilbron [New York: Oxford University Press, 2003], 640).
 Grant, Passing of the Great Race, 29–30.
 Donal E. Muir, “Race: The Mythic Root of Racism,” Sociological Inquiry 63 (1993): 348.
 Allen, “Misuse of Biological Hierarchies,” 118–19, 125.
 Grant, Passing of the Great Race, 34.
 Ibid., 35.
 Ibid., 51.
 Ibid., 44.
 Ibid., 46.
 Edwin Black, War against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race (New York: Four Walls, Eight Windows, 2003), 259, 273–76; cf. Stefan Kühl, The Nazi Connection: Eugenics, American Racism, and German National Socialism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 85.
 Grant, Passing of the Great Race, 46–47.
 See Holocaust Encyclopedia, s.v. “Victims of the Nazi Era: Nazi Racial Ideology,” http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007457. See also the role of Darwinian language in Hitler’s ideology in Richard Weikart, Hitler’s Ethic: The Nazi Pursuit of Evolutionary Progress (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 31–84.
 Kühl, Nazi Connection, 73, 131. For a British critique of the “German soul,” published the same year as Grant’s book, see Baron Friederich von Hügel, The German Soul in Its Attitude towards Ethics and Christianity the State and War (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1916), 125–88. Such rhetoric in the period cut both ways in the “civilization” struggle.
 Annie Jacobsen, Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America (New York: Little, Brown, 2014), 122. This book is an excellent overview of the postwar absorption of Nazi scientists, many of whom were war criminals, into the United States.
 Charles Bracelen Flood, Hitler: The Path to Power (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1989), 596. For a helpful and succinct account of the circumstances of the composition of Mein Kampf, see pp. 586–96.
 Anthony Faiola and Stephanie Kirchner, “Merkel Condemns Rash of Neo-Nazi Attacks in Germany,” The Washington Post, August 26, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/merkel-condemns-rash-of-neo-nazi-attacks/2015/08/26/8b485a28-bf16-4391-8214-597ec626d815_story.html.