I don't much care for the novel The Great Gatsby (the lyricism of the writing gets tiresome, the characters are annoying, and somebody ought to take out that damned green light with a sniper rifle), but one passage has long fascinated me:
“Civilization’s going to pieces,” broke out Tom violently. “I’ve gotten to be a terrible pessimist about things. Have you read The Rise of the Colored Empires by this man Goddard?”At its most obvious level, this presents Tom as a racist and elitist, somebody obsessed with power and inheritance. He's a self-satisfied bully. It also hints at the idea that the inherited wealth and power of the "old money" oligarchs may be based on false pretenses — at least for readers now, the reference to eugenics (Tom's words evoke the work and names of Lothrop Stoddard and Henry Goddard) signals that Tom has found a particularly nasty way to justify his wealth and power to himself. A paragraph later, he says, "This idea is that we’re Nordics. I am, and you are, and you are, and— [...] And we’ve produced all the things that go to make civilization — oh, science and art, and all that. Do you see?"
“Why, no,” I answered, rather surprised by his tone.
“Well, it’s a fine book, and everybody ought to read it. The idea is if we don’t look out the white race will be — will be utterly submerged. It’s all scientific stuff; it’s been proved.”
“Tom’s getting very profound,” said Daisy, with an expression of unthoughtful sadness. “He reads deep books with long words in them. What was that word we—”
“Well, these books are all scientific,” insisted Tom, glancing at her impatiently. “This fellow has worked out the whole thing. It’s up to us, who are the dominant race, to watch out or these other races will have control of things.”
“We’ve got to beat them down,” whispered Daisy, winking ferociously toward the fervent sun.
Nordics. Fitzgerald didn't know it when he wrote Gatsby, but Tom was talking the language of proto-Nazism, and the "science" he referred to was the science that would in the next decade pave the way for the Final Solution.