The Rev. Dr. J. F. X. Murphy delivered a speech at the convention of the Jesuit Philosophical Association, in which he praised and attacked the Jews. Several months ago a distinguished Catholic layman also praised the Jews and exaggerated their power and influence to such an extent that his praise produced the effect of condemnation. The Rev. Dr. Murphy resorted to different tactics. He listed some of the good qualities of the Jews, and then assailed them viciously for what he regards as their faults. He attributed the anti-Jewish hostility today to envy of their “superior tenacity, perserverance and determination” and then attacked them for their “unbridled lust for gain.”
Dr. Murphy declared that this lust was “inducing them to prostitute agencies in themselves capable of a vast amount of good in mankind into instruments for debasing the taste, if not the morals, of the multitude,” and he accused the Jews of abetting anti-Catholic movements in “practically every Christian land” and of adopting all foolish theories of Christian modernists and their worst blasphemies and giving them additional currency.
Afterwards he explained that he had no intention of joining any anti-Semitic movement, and referred to the fact that he had also praised the Jews in his address, in which he said, in part, as follows:
“Along with the Jew’s tremendous capacity for spiritual insight and growth is a fierceness and intensity of character which is perhaps the reason why God chose this race to bear His revelation through pagan times. And God wouldn’t have chosen this race to produce the Mother of Our Lord unless there is much in them. In the intense clannishness of the Jewâ€”clannishness not meant in an invidious sense â€”is the root element in his character that makes the Jew a problem today as he was to the Romans of old.”
He stated that generally the opposition to the Jew in Christian lands is more economic than racial or religious. He praised the Jews for their earnestness, persistence and capacity for hard work and said that as a result “professional life is frequently surcharged with Jews,” adding, “I do not find fault with them for this, but with the Christian apathy which lets them get the positions and then wants to swat them.”
He paid a strange compliment to the Jews by pointing out that St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, has urged the members of his organization to work among the Jews “because they make good Jesuits.”
Dr. Murphy summed his views on the Jewish problem by saying that the “Jewish problem arises because of the different intellectual and moral ideals of the Hebrew as opposed to the Christian ideal, which, of course, not all Christians live up to. The Jew’s ideal is that of the Talmud, not that of Christ, and is expressed in the statement of a rabbi who referred to ‘the sane selfishness of the Jew.’”
And he also charged that the Jews who have lost connection with their own religion “do harm by their lack of morals in their influence on the stage, the motion pictures and above all the daily press.”
The trouble with Dr. Murphy, who is head of the department of history at Boston College, is that he lives in the past. He is rehashing all the old and outworn accusations against the Jews throughout the ages, during the early stages of the Christian era, during the Middle Ages, up to the present time. That Dr. Murphy, as a disciple of Loyola, should now denounce the Jews for their “fierceness and intensity of character” is quite amazing. He is exhuming the ancient phrases and pretexts for anti-Jewish hate and persecution, which recall the cruelties and horrors of the Inquisition, in the name of the Prince of Peace who preached love and the brotherhood of man.
During the past nineteen hundred years there were periodic waves of anti-Jewish hate. The Jews were first attacked for the Old Testament. Then they were attacked for the Talmud. They were forced into Ghettoes and restricted in their occupations. Then they were attacked for their clannishness. They were deprived of the right to own land or to till the soil and were limited to commerce and money lending. Then they were attacked as money lenders and their possessions were confiscated. When they produced great religious scholars and philosophers who left their imprint upon the development of culture, the Jews were attacked by the Church for undermining the foundation of the prevailing religion.
When they remained steadfast in their faith, in their loyalty to Judaism, they were burnt at the stake, or driven from land to land. When some of them drifted away from their faith, without adhering to another religious belief, all the Jews were attacked as agnostics and enemies of the dominant religion. When the “religious” pretext for persecuting the Jews ceased to be effective for a time, a new pretext was contrived. The masses were led to believe by the authorities and by so-called spiritual leaders that the Jews were responsible for their economic distress. The Jews were attacked as exploiters and parasites. When the people after awhile discovered that the Jews were not at all to blame for their sad economic state, that the pretext had been invented for the purpose of diverting the people’s attention from the real causes of their sufferings, new excuses were devised to make the Jew the scapegoat.
Then came the political and the national excuses. The Jews were accused of being disloyal to the countries in which they lived, of creating a state within a state, of plotting against the nations in order to dominate and control the world. “The Protocols of the Wise Men of Zion,” a Russian and Prussian forgery, containing a combination of all these formulas for world domination, were sprung upon the world in the war’s aftermath. These “Protocols” have become the Nazis’ bible.
It is astonishing that Dr. Murphy, at the Jesuit convention, should repeat, even in sugar-coated form, some of the absurd and false charges against the Jews made by the Nazis who are so cruelly also persecuting the Catholics in Naziland. It would seem that religious scholars and leaders at this time, when religion is losing its grip on the people, would do well to devote more attention to those elements in all faiths that could unite people instead of stirring up anew old animosities and prejudices which intensify strife and division, and which only serve to discredit and weaken the prestige of their religion.