This quote sounds like it came from a Donald Trump speech, except the language is more elevated. Or maybe it came from George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, or even Paul Wolfowitz. Its talk of “terrorists” certainly sounds like something out of neocon ideology, like a passage from a Project for the New American Century white paper. At least in tone. The prose is still too eloquent for any of the above.
Actually, it’s a quote from a short story called, “The Street,” by H. P. Lovecraft and it was written in 1919.
Though Mr. Lovecraft is known as the “father” of the modern horror genre, this (one of his earlier works) is light on the macabre and mysterious, other than, perhaps, in its descriptions of the evil intent of the dark, alien, immigrants he describes. The prefacing note to the story, in the compilation volume I have, describes it as a “xenophobic allegory about the overrunning of America by seditious immigrants…”
That’s an apt description for this story that so accurately reflects current attitudes towards immigrants, refugees, and other “swarthy” people.
Now, I have begun reading Mr. Lovecraft’s stories, from his earliest to his latter works, with the intent of seeing how his paranormal and trans-dimensional themes developed. And I was surely seeing that development and enjoying his tales, when I came to “The Street.” I was blown away (appalled, actually) by the story’s modern-sounding theme of racial intolerance.
In a nutshell, “The Street” tells an anthropomorphic story about a particular roadway in North America. The pathway started out as a forest trail followed by the English colonials (and Mr. Lovecraft describes them as the classic “pilgrims”) in fetching water for their settlement. You would think it would have begun as an Indian trail, but if so, Mr. Lovecraft does not finds that fact worth mentioning. Indeed, he is dismissive of Native Americans, dispensing with them in a few words:
There was war, and thereafter no more Indians troubled The Street.
He does not question whether The Street ever troubled the Indians.
Mr. Lovecraft follows The Street’s environs in developing into a blessed place of well-built houses with rose-gardens, and in being lined with mighty oaks and elms—symbols of prosperity and stability. Its surrounding settlement grows into a city that attracts learning and culture (Western). Then the Revolutionary War happens which brings hard times and takes away most of the young me. But The Street remains a good place to live as long as the most of its inhabitants are of English descent (no mention of slaves). As long as this is the case, even nature is happy:
And the trees still sheltered singing birds, and at evening the moon and stars looked down upon dewy blossoms in the walled rose-gardens.
But when strangers from eastern Europe arrive who don’t “know The Street,” things just go to hell:
And those who came were never as those who went away; for their accents were coarse and strident, and their mien and faces unpleasing. Their thoughts, too, fought with the wise, just spirit of The Street…
Mr. Lovecraft goes on to describe the degradation of The Street (and its surrounding city) by the immigrants. They ruin the houses built to last for generations. They are physically ugly, and just totally screw things up:
New kinds of faces appeared in The Street; swarthy, sinister faces with furtive eyes and odd features, whose owners spoke unfamiliar words, and placed signs in known and unknown characters upon most of the musty houses…A sordid, undefinable stench settled over the place, and the ancient spirit slept.
Another section sounds very much like what’s happening today in Syria and the Middle East in general, where war pushes people out of their homes to become refugees fleeing to the West:
War and revolution were raging across the seas; a dynasty had collapsed, and its degenerative subjects were flocking with dubious intent to the Western Land.
And then Mr. Lovecraft offers that opinion, that I’ve heard so much, that the immigrants are just evil crazies, plotting destruction:
…for there was in the eyes of all a weird, unhealthy glitter as of greed, ambition, vindictiveness, or misguided zeal. Unrest and treason were abroad…crumbling houses teemed with alien makers of discord and echoed with the plans and speeches of those who yearned for the appointed day of blood, flame, and crime.
It’s easy to see these attitudes today being set against Middle Eastern immigrants and refugees. Mr. Lovecraft’s criticism and judgment was against eastern European immigrants, and especially communists who he saw as plotting against America and, I suppose, Western values:
In these writings the people were urged to tear down the laws and virtues that our fathers had exalted; to stamp out the soul of the old America…that at their word of command many millions of brainless, besotted beasts would stretch forth their noisome talons from the slums of a thousand cities, burning, slaying, and destroying till the land of our fathers should be no more.
And the Boston police, who went on strike in 1919, Mr. Lovecraft saw as communist sympathizers who had abandoned America. He seems to be referring to them in this passage:
Many times came bands of blue-coated police to search the shaky houses, though at last they ceased to come; for they too had grown tired of law and order, and had abandoned all the city to its fate.
Now I’m not mentioning all this to ding Mr. Lovecraft, though I certainly ding the opinions and the attitude he expresses in “The Street.” But this story is not typical of Mr. Lovecraft’s works, and I believe there is some indication of his attitude mellowing in his later years. The attitude expressed in “The Street,” however, is pretty common today and is prompted by much biased “news coverage” (actually, propaganda) and by the words of our elite “leaders.” It is this facet of the story that struck me so.
For example, a recent political rally for Donald Trump in North Carolina, turned ugly when a Muslim woman (and a few others) quietly protested some parts of Trump’s speech simply by standing. Mr. Trump was averring some evil intent on the part of Syrian refugees, which prompted the woman’s protest. The crowd around her took up some derisive chants and hurled “Islamophobic epithets” at her. Then Security escorted her from the building.
In referring to the protesters in this episode, Mr. Trump was quoted as saying, "It's their hatred, it's not our hatred." That reflects the tone in “The Street” (as well as being hypocritical, since the Muslim woman said nothing and it was the crowd that did all the vocal hate-hurling).
Since this episode, I believe Mr. Trump has let lose with some more tirades against Muslims, immigrants, and brown people in general. This is, I think, his “wild side” talking-without-thinking and revving up the extreme conservative element among his supporters.
Mr. Lovecraft mentioned the flood of refugees coming to America from the ravaging of Europe by the First World War. Today, they are “flooding” in because Western powers (the US and NATO) are bombing their homes to oblivion (in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, etc) in the absence of any provocation.
In an opinion piece on the Global Research website, Robert Bridge indicates this destruction and displacement of people is intentional. He avers it is meant to facilitate the Western oligarch’s desires for world conquest:
While on the surface it may seem that the refugee crisis has taken Western leaders by surprise, in fact it is all part of their plan for global domination, which was outlined in a paper by the now-defunct group of US neoconservatives known as The Project for a New American Century (PNAC).
Mr. Bridge’s article is generally correct, in my opinion, in its depiction of the drive by Western oligarchs for world domination, but it is still tainted with a racist attitude that says some races of people are just bad and crazy (yes, there are “bad and crazy” people out there, but they tend not to be defined by race when you look at the bigger picture).
It is this racist attitude, that the oligarchs use against us. It keeps us divided in the face of their tyranny, and contributes to keeping them in power.
H. P. Lovecraft, who wrote his stories in the early 20th century, was not unique in being a talented author who reflected the darker opinions of his time. Mark Twain was the same way, to an extent. Mr. Twain came around, though, and penned a classic criticism of racial intolerance in Huckleberry Finn.
I was simply struck by the tone of “The Street” and how it sounded so contemporary in its intolerance. It makes me think the idea of “American Exceptionalism” has been around for a while, along with that of white, west European supremacy (fostered by institutionalized slavery). It seems, as a society, we have not progressed so much. Or maybe we’ve just fallen so far.
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You can find the Trump rally story here.
You can find Mr. Bridge’s article here.