Race Prejudice and Discrimination: Readings in Intergroup Relations in the United States

By Arnold M. Rose | Go to book overview

rance which the world by long custom is used to see: the discrimination practiced in the United States is practiced against American Negroes in spite of wealth, training and character. One of the contributors of this statement happens to be a white man but the other three and the editor himself are subject to "jim-crow" laws, to denial of the right to vote, to unequal chance to earn a living; of the right to enter many places of public entertainment supported by their taxes. In other words our complaint is mainly against a discrimination based mainly on color of skin, and it is this that we denounce as not only indefensible but barbaric. . . .


3 Origins of Anti-Semitism in the United States *

Oscar and Mary F. Handlin

[ The history of the Jews in the United States is as different from the history of Negroes as it could be. The early Jews came to the American Colonies as respected and desired members. Their distinctive traditions were admired, and their skills and interests were given full scope for expression. Although few in numbers at first, Jews rose as rapidly on the occupational and social status scales as did non-Jews. It was not until toward the end of the nineteenth century that they were slandered for their beliefs and traditions. Since the end of the First World War, the United States has had a full blown development of anti-Semitism. The Handlins recount the history of this development. ]

The first two centuries of American experience were almost completely free of expressions of hostility to the Jews. This favorable condition grew out of the high place held by them in American society and out of the Christian conception of the mission of Israel, widely accepted in the United States.

As late as 1800 there were only a few thousand Jews scattered through the American cities. Their role as merchants and the general cosmopolitan air of the towns in which they lived brought them into close, friendly contact, on equal terms, with their neighbors. In this social environment there was little room for prejudice.

Furthermore, the Christian idea that a remnant of Israel would bear witness to the truth of the gospels also contributed to that favorable position. In the United States there had always been a

____________________
*
From Danger in Discord ( New York: Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, 1948), pages 9-12, 24-37. Copyright 1948 by Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith. Reprinted by permission of Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith.

-25-

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