Rachel Maddow would like for the Republicans who want to use the stimulus bill to make political hay to get out of the way of the ones who are actually trying to save our economy. She notes the importance of quick action if the stimulus is going to have any chance working.
Her use of the term Know Nothings reminded me of an article I read back in November at Alternet titled Thanks to Sarah Palin, We Get to See the Cruelness of the GOP as It Really Is which described the Know Nothing party of the 1840's.
But there is another strand that runs through their history.
Back in the 1840s, there was a group called the Know Nothings. They were against immigrants and for real Americans. ("Real American" did not then, as it does not now, refer to Indians; it refers to descendants of English immigrants.) The movement was based on fear. Irish and German Catholics were going to take over. They would take orders from the Pope-in-Rome (one word). Their values were not "our values." They drank. Their nunneries were virtual brothels and when the nuns had babies they practiced infanticide.
The Know Nothings started with secret societies like the Order of the Star Spangled Banner, associated with William Poole, better known as Bill the Butcher, depicted by Daniel Day Lewis in Gangs of New York. Their public political face was the American Republican Party, which became the Native American Party, and finally the American Party.
Their platform was:
- Severe limits on immigration, especially from Catholic countries.
- Restricting political office to "native-born" Americans.
- Mandating a wait of 21 years before an immigrant could gain citizenship.
- Restricting public school teaching to Protestants.Mandating daily Bible readings in public schools (from the Protestant version of the Bible).
- Restricting the sale of liquor.
Rachel's Know Nothing obstructionists and the Know Nothings of old do seem to be cut from the same cloth don't they?