A fellow by the name of Ben Schrago writes a piece in the December issue of the American Spectator in which, with the subtlety and finesse of a Nazi truncheon descending full force on the head of a Jew, he derides the professional Jewish habit of laying indiscriminate claim to men of eminence as Jews. He makes the point that in the technique of badgering and labelling men of distinction as Jews the gentlemen of the Anglo – Jewish press (the chief culprits) are very much like the Nazis who are unwilling to take No for an answer and insist that a teeny drop of Jewish blood in the stream makes the whole man Jew. I myself have been guilty in this connectionâ€”I pause a second to bow my head in shameâ€”but guilty with a playful accent, chiefly in an editorial in which I conducted an intellectual exercise on the eventualities that might be expected to arise should the supposition that Hitler is a Jew be proved fact. But on the whole I believe that my instinct has been sound. Every now and then I have had whispered in my ear “information”, in strict confidence, that such and such a person is a Jew, and the unspoken response is: What of it? I recall one ranting professional Jew especially â€” he writes rather good prose and conducts Palestinian toursâ€”who wished me to discover the full original Jewish name of F.P.A. and communicate the information in nothing less than New York Evening Journal headline type.
People who are Jews and wish to escape the racial, or communal, responsibilities involved in being Jewish, and Jews who put tags on unwilling members of their race are equally in enjoyment of unhealthy states of mind. The first does not wish to be pulled down, even by inference, to the level of the unpleasant notions implicit in the word Jew, and the otherâ€”the Jew-labeller â€”wishes to compensate for a sense of inferiority by compelling the eminent and unwilling Jew to pool his eminence into the common fund. In neither case is there self-assurance.
It seems to me as plain as the nose on any Jewish face that when a man denies that he is a Jew, however unworthy may be the motive for the denial, then you just cross his name off the list of Jews. You may continue to believe that he is a Jew, but for the purposes of the record he is no Jew. Charlie Chaplin, for example, has distinct Jewish lineaments, and I know that some of his best gag-men are Jews, but if he does not wish to be labelled Jew that should end the matter. I know a famous American poet who, when bored by the constant labelling of himself as Jew, begs you to bear in mind that one of his parents was Catholic. He does happen to be rather two-faced about it, deriving what publicity he can out of Jewish sources, as a Jew, and out of non-Jewish sourcesâ€”as a poet, one of whose parents is a Catholic.
Mr. Schrago’s article leads me to a suggestion which I am sure is going to fall on barren soil. Which, I assure you, will make it no less precious to me. Start the business of un-claiming Jews. Say that Walter Winchell is not a Jewâ€”contrary to popular belief and contrary, probably, to fact. Insist that Hitler can not possibly be a Jew. Say that you’ve heard that “Waxey” Gordon
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.