What today gets called "identity politics" was, in the early twentieth century, called "hyphen politics" or "hyphenism
," which was supposedly as grave a threat to our democratic order as identity politics supposedly is today.
He was not alone in doing so; after the United States entered the war the majority of Irish-Americans, more conscious than ever of their American identity and under pressure from the growing rejection of 'hyphenism
', put the needs of that country before Irish claims for independence.
As historian Nell Irvin Painter explains, "The scope of permissible thought narrowed....Disloyalty and hyphenism
came to be seen as opposites of 100 percent Americanism..." (8) The changes in northern cities wrought by the war, including the Great Migration of African Americans, the wartime economic boom and labor's concessions to the government, and contested nationalist loyalties among immigrants, had the potential to shatter the delicate peace President Woodrow Wilson negotiated at Versailles.