"But of all playues, good Heaven thy wrath can send, Save, save, oh! save me from the candid friend."
THE OLD PROVERB, "God preserve me from my friends; from my enemies I will preserve myself," comes again to mind on reading a recent article in the "Christian Century" under tht title "Jewish Soliderity in America." the author, Joseph Ernest Mcafee, Las for the past ten years been director of community services for the Community Church of New York, of which Dr. John Haynes Holmes is the minister.
Mr. McAfee is, of course, no anti-Semite. Though at one time secretary of the Presbyterian Board of Home Minister and of the American Missionary Association, he claims not to belong to the excessively zealous religionists who suffer from chronic convertitis. It may safely be assumed tht be is oppesed toall forms of Jewish persecution and discrimination. He refers to his many friends and acquaintances among Jews. All of which takes his article the more amazing and-the more dangerous.
"I have many friends and acquaintances among Jews," he writes…"Yet not once have I found one of these ready to agree that the Jew bears a share of the responsibility for unfortunate social clashes and misunderstadings which have prevailed all down our own society has not been fre…It (the anti-Semitic disease)will not diappear until veritably the Jew ceases to be a Jew. He need notcease to be a Jew exercising the right of every American citizen to entertain such personal religious views as he may choose…He must cease to be a member of a self-contained and umpervious social group, the Jew making up an hereditary both entrance and exit… The Jewish community is enormously self-consious. Its elfconsciousness is socially baneful gencarlly almost universally, and especially where the Jew forms a considerable group in a particular population center…There have emerged in American history and still perists in our commonwealth, numerous selfcontained social groups, many of them claiming religious sanction, members of which have surrounded themselves with barriers against egress and imgress, comparabe to those of the Jewish community, but those which have added the effective barriers fo geograpghy…But the social woes which tehe American community has suffered through thees groups have constantly tended to dissolve of their own nature…The Jew stands alone in this particular. The Jew is "different" with a type of difference which is sicially baneful,and which cannot ever be aught but that, so long as it is persisted in…The Jew is inviting woes in American soiety as he has many lands…It cannot be pointed out to the Jew too frequently that the he is attempting the socially impossible. He, in his loftiest aspiration, is seeking to contribute to the cultural enrichment of American society…But #Jew does not apparently see how banefully he is himself frustrating the very aspiration which he voices. He is holding back. He is not giving himself…He is unwilling to lose his Jewish life tht he may find it in the larger American life. He rebuffs all who would share his spiritual aspirations and persecutes those wholly and unreservedly to give themselves into the common American lige…" (The talies throughout are ours.)
Space does not permit a seriatim refutation of the doctrines of this friendly churchman who asks nothing of the Jewish people but to get off the earth. They are very reminiscent of the opinions of another Christian friend of the Jews, Mr. Alfred William Anthony, whose interests also lay in the field of Chiristian missions. Suffice it to indicate at the outset that Mr. McAfee’s contact with Jewish life and thought must be very circumscribed if he could not find any Jews to agree tht the Jew himself bears a share of the responsibility for the unfortunate social clashe which have existed and do now exist. He need not peruse our voluminus literature of the past for abundant evidence of national self-re-proach and castigation. He need only scan present-day Jewish literature and periodicals to discover how mercilessly and almost morbidly the Jew analyzes himself and shoulders reponsibility for private and natioal delinquencies, even when these do not actually exist. Our share of the guilt, however, is not where Mr. McAfee locates it-in our strong group consciousness. Rather it is to be found in our frequent apostast from the high ethical ideals of our faith, and from acts of disloyalty to the soul and destiny of our people.
Mr. McAfee is clearly opposed to the existence of varied social groups in American society. He takes it for granted that the American society (which he never defines) has suffered "social woes" because of it. But how? He makes no attempt to explain or to specify, nor does he indicate on what basis of history or theory of American democracy he posits his dogma that there must be only one social group in America nor does he enlighten us on what he understands by "one social group."
Nor does Mr. McAfee take the trouble to prove his contention that the self-consciousness of the Jewish community in this country has been "socially baneful". Wherein? Have the Jews failed in their political or civic duties? Have they refused to participate in the political life of this nation as citizens in the same measure as all other citizens? Have they refused to send their children to the public schools of the higher learning, preferring to isolate denominational colleges? Are they not represented largely in all the cultural activities of American life, in literature, the arts, the sciences and the progessions? Are not Jewish business men #ger to join all the "characteristic" American business groups, the lodges and fraternal organizations wherever they are admitted? Have Jews ever refused to join non-Jewish social clubs, or progessional associations, when invited? Have Jewish workingmen not jouned in the labor movement in this country? Have not Jewish communities pooled their philanthropic efforts in many of our large cities in common community chests? Have Jews not shared in all the national movements making "for the enrichment of our common life?"
Wherein has the group consciousness of the Jews in America been "socially baneful"? What socially desirable activities in American life have Jews refused to share in? Wherein is the Jew holding back?
In what way does the decirec of the Jew to care for his own dependents because he understands them best, or to organize in defense of his persecuted bretren throughout the world, or to teach his children the language, history, and literature of his race along with those of the country, or to assist in the upbuilding in Palestine of a homecland for his people where the homeless of his race and the culture of his race may find a haven, or to preserve the beautiful customs of his people which are at one and the same time both religious and social in character (for no distinction between the purely religious and the socail ever existed in Judaism)-in what way are these "focal centers of rebellion against common and wholesome social tendencies", and in what way do they interfer in "the common life of the community"? Why has not the Jew or any other individual or group of individual in a free democrecy the right to live his own life in his own way, so long as, to quote John Stuart Mill, "he does not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it."
Mr. McAfee thinks of the Jews only as a religious community, and alows them only the right of religious freedom. If the Jew would surrender verything except his "personal religious views"-all would be well with him. The anti-Semitic disease would then disappear. The German Jew for decades pradi#d the very theory of assimilation which Mr. McAfee now prescribes for the American Jew. They tried in #ll wa# not to be diferent. Their group consciousness had dwindled to a vanishing poinnt. Inter-marriage was wide-spread among them. There was very easy egress from the group and no ingress to speak of…Many joined the Christian church or because "konfessionslos". And yet-such is the patent bankruptcy of the whole thesis of Mr. McAfee-the most virulent anti-Semitism developed in Germany, and in place of a self-w#d "difference"-a legal, prescriptive and discriminating "difference" was forced upon them as a mark of shame. Even non-Aryan Christian elergymen who certainly never suffered from excessive Jewish group-consciousness have been "differentiated" and stigmatized in the land of classic Jewish assimilation.
One wonders whether Mr. McAfee is not unconsciously hankering after an American social and cultural gleichschaltung after the model of Nazi Deutschtum, an American speies of "national concentration" of the variety which is devastating the free life of Europe today?
"Social unity" or "cultural unity" is just as dangerous a slogan to raise in modern society as "racial unity". In fact the one inevitably_1-ads to the wther. In Nazi Germany they have quite naturally , been "coordinated" into one German-Nordic-Aryan dogma of infallibility.
Too many noble edeals of mankind are being broken on the wheel of totalitarian obsessions in the word today for liberal churchmen who value individualism and exalt personality to permit themselves to become champions of "unificationl" crusades in American life. Some do it in the name of theology. Others in the name of anthropology Still others, like Mr. McAfee, in the name of sociolgy, Their inspiration and their objective are, however, the same "Juda Verrecke"!