Anti-semitism Seen “tangible As a Heavy Fog” in United States

Growth of anti-Semitism in the United States, until it has become “as tangible as a heavy fog,” is noted in an editorial in the current issue of The Nation, liberal weekly.

The editorial, captioned “Anti-Semitism Is Here,” traces the rise of prejudice against the Jews in this country, declaring there has been a subtle change from the “considerable contempt” with which “the excesses of the Old World” were until recently regarded, and cites major indications of the new trend. It finds race feeling on the increase, but declares “it has not emerged in overt acts or new restrictions nor is it discussed in the press.” Jews are asserted to be seemingly “less aware” of the growing anti-Semitism than Gentiles.

“Anti-Semitism,” the editorial begins, “is growing in the United States. As tangible as a heavy fog, it is spreading through new areas of our social life and carrying with it the threat of unspeakable future ills. We say these words with reluctance, but without any question of their truth. Nor will they be disputed by any person sensitive to currents of popular feeling. Like a fog, too, this prejudice is hard to fight, hard even to get hold of and analyze. You know it is there, but you are at a loss to describe its exact shape or substance and dimensions.”

After comparing anti-Semitism in Europe with the mild “upper-class” form of prejudice that prevailed in this country, The Nation continues:

“Today the situation has definitely changed. Yet the change is subtle. Race feeling is on the increase, but it has not emerged in overt acts or new restrictions nor is it discussed in the press. Jews seem to be less aware of it than Gentiles; a fact that may explain how, in Germany, so many Jews were able to remain relatively unsuspecting until the blow fell. In lieu of real standards of measurement-for no one can measure what’s still a subjective attitude–we can only cite random indications of the change. One major sign is the tendency among Gentile opponents of the Administration to damn the Jews for Roosevelt’s alleged sins. The name of Felix Frankfurter has come to symbolize Jewish radicalism in the New Deal–with no regard to the fact that Frankfurter is an uncompromising constitutionalist and a moderate liberal in his political views. The influence of Benjamin V. Cohen is chalked up against the Jews; but as far as we have heard, the parallel influence of Thomas Corcoran is held against Corcoran alone. The admirable freedom from race discrim nation which characterizes the whole Roosevelt regime is itself held as a reproach to the Administration. Those scurrilous appeals to prejudice that provided ammunition for the embattled reactionaries of the 1936 campaign have been the accepted attitude of the same group ever since.”

The editorial finds among the most serious repercussions of the “new” anti-Semitism here its “effect upon the Jews themselves.” In their attitude toward the Roosevelt administration and the C.I.O., The Nation asserts, Jewish business men share with their Gentile counterparts “everything but the Gentiles’ anti-Semitism.” This, the editorial declares, has forced them into a defensive position “hardly less dangerous” which has produced” a sort of inverted anti-Semitism.”

In support of this view the editorial cites a Jewish broker’s opinion that “Morris Ernst (noted liberal attorney), by his fight against Hague (Jersey City’s mayor), has done more to hurt the Jews than anyone else in the United States.” Ernst, the broker argued, was taking the side of the Communists and the C.I.O., thus identifying a Jew–by implication, all Jews–”with subversive and disreputable ideas.”

“The future of the Jew in America,” the editorial concludes, “is tied tight to the future of democracy, and that in turn depends upon a successful resistance to reaction, whether it appears in the guise of Wall Street Republicanism or the primitive, fascism of Frank Hague. Both are riddled with anti-Semitic feeling. Both must be overcome if the American ideal of tolerance and the equality of races is to survive.”

The Nation also publishes an article by Dr. William E. Dodd, former Ambassador to Germany, entitled “Germany Shocked Me.” Dr. Dodd reviews the persecution of the Jews in the Nazi Reich, declaring: “Unless one has been an eyewitness of the atrocities inflicted upon the Jewish population of Germany and Austria it is almost impossible to realize the extent and violence of Nazi persecution. An entire race is being broken by methodical torture, perpetrated not by isolated individuals but by the state itself. Never in modern times has a sovereign power bent itself so savagely upon the extinction of its own inhabitants, or so deliberately transgressed every tradition of culture and humanity.”

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