NEW YORK (May. 9)
Recalling that the first organized anti-Semitic movement in America followed the first World War, Dr. Everett R. Clinchy, president of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, warned today that “American leaders must build a dike against a possible new wave of fear, prejudice and intolerance such as that which has followed all modern wars.”
Reviewing the work of his organization in building better relationships among Protestants, Catholics and Jews in America during the last year in his annual report to the trustees of the National Conference, Dr. Clinchy classed as an “illusion” the belief of many Americans that “the tide of intolerance” will ebb as a result of “the united effort forced upon us by the war.”
“War exacerbates prejudice and multiplies occasions of misunderstanding,” the report said. “To the diffusion of suspicion and hatred by agents of totalitarian government are added disagreements as to national policy and differences of sympathy as to the course of events of the war arising from differences of national origin among our people.
“War periods are usually periods of unloosed passions, hysteria and suppression which may be directed at any group at any time. It would be a tragic error if American leaders relaxed their vigilance with respect to the tensions created by a war psychology and their efforts to alley the causes of dissension. There has never been a greater need to arouse men and women from their complacency and induce them to face the facts.”
Appealing to American leaders to exert their fullest influence against prejudice, hate and mistrust among American citizens, Dr. Clinchy explained that no group among the population must be permitted to be made the “scapegoat” for the difficulties bound to follow the war period if this country is to hope for the establishment of a peaceful, post-war order.
“The last war gave birth to revitalized Ku Klux Klan which revived the anti-Catholicism of the late nineteenth century, and brought into being the first organized anti-Semitic movement in American history,” he declared. “The Ku Klux Klan attempted to provide a popular scapegoat for the hardships of the war. After this war, there may be new attempts to find a scapegoat. We must see to it now that this shall not happen later. A hopeful post-war order will have no meaning for Americans unless we can build our own sound peace at home. But we cannot hope for peace if a wave of intolerance is allowed to sweep us asunder and divide our country into hostile camps.”
The efforts of the N.C.C.J. during the past year to promote good fellowship among Americans of all faiths have been a major contribution to national defense, Dr. Clinchy declared.