For American minds the German-Jewish tragedy was at first a far-off, incredible phenomenon. But slowly it is acquiring familiar lineaments. I find men of sober mental habit beginning to visualize the vague but disturbing possibility of an American version.
The fear of organized and effective anti-Semitism is beginning to permeate Jewish lives heretofore untouched by that emotion. For the first time they are becoming alarmed over the prominence of Jews â€” sometimes over their own prominenceâ€”in American lives.
Facts which formerly were a matter of indifference to them, and sometimes even a matter of pride, now touch off their instinct of self-preservation. A Jewish Governor of New York. Baruch and Morgenthau and Frankfurter in the New Deal. Two Jewish members of the United States Supreme Court. Jewish heads of some of the foremost American corporations. Wherever they turnâ€”Jews! If only there were fewer of us in conspicuous places! they complain.
ONE JEW’S ATTITUDE
I know of a prominent Jew, himself conspicuously located in the social line-up, who believes Jews should steer clear of the professions, in which they already have a disproportionate share.
He has no intention, of course, of giving up his own place of distinction or of prevailing upon his Jewish friends and relatives to retire from business and politics into the modest walks of shoe-making and ladies-tailoring. What he meansâ€”though it is not so clearly formulated in his own mindâ€” is that the youth of the poor Jews, now filling the State colleges, struggling and striving for escape ###m poverty and clamoring for tasks in line with their native abilities, might somehow be induced to follow the economic ways of their fathers and remain in sweatshops and at pushcarts. . . . Life would then, perhaps, be more tolerable for the Jews who have already “arrived” and for their sons and daughters.
FIND THEIR OWN LEVEL
“I have three sons,” a successful Jewish business man told me recently. “They have the mentality and the urge to enter professions, whether as lawyers or editors or engineers. But some of my friends tell me that we Jews have more than our ‘proportionate share’ of the professions already. Am I therefore to send my boys to dig ditches or make shoes?”
There was no need to answer. Regardless of their own father, if need be, those boys will seek an economic level and cultural pursuits suited to their ambitions and capacities. If they have it in them, they will attain prominence that will bring renewed glory and renewed apprehensions to the Jews.
That has been the history of our race and such it will remain, despite the penalties involved.
It will avail American Jews exactly nothing to act, or even to think, along the lines of retreat from eminence. Human ability and agility and will-power will succeed, despite all obstacles and “keep out” signs, in reaching their natural levels. It is well that it should be so. Every attempt to thwart this natural movement