A Nation Turns Its Lonely Eyes to You

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This is a bit besides the main point of Robert L. Fleeger's essay on ""Theodore G. Bilbo and the Decline of Public Racism, 1938-1947", but it's a pretty striking example of the past being a foreign country:

Furthermore, elites often expressed or ignored other forms of bigotry. Anti-Italian sentiment, while less acceptable than anti-black sentiment, could still be seen in major news publications before the war. Indeed, this rhetoric appeared in descriptions of the most popular Italian-American of the day, New York Yankees star Joe DiMaggio. In May 1939, Life wrote, “Although he learned Italian first, Joe, now twenty-four, speaks English without an accent and is otherwise well-adapted to most U.S. mores. Instead of olive oil or smelly bear grease he keeps his hair slick with water. He never reeks of garlic and prefers chicken chow mein to spaghetti.” The article also included a picture of DiMaggio with Joe Louis, captioned “Like Heavyweight Champion Louis, DiMaggio is lazy, shy, and inarticulate.”

Speaking personally, I would be a bit frightened to call a championship boxer "lazy."

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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