An Inventory and Appraisal of Research on American Anti-Semitism

An Inventory and Appraisal of Research on American Anti-Semitism

An Inventory and Appraisal of Research on American Anti-Semitism

An Inventory and Appraisal of Research on American Anti-Semitism

Excerpt

The primary purpose of this volume is to present a series of digests of researches, theories, and hypotheses about anti-Semitism in America. The secondary purpose is to try, in the statements that precede each section of digests, to state the major issues at stake and some of the implications that can be drawn from the material that is digested.

Even a superficial examination of the literature reveals that anti- Semitism, though basically similar wherever it appears, nevertheless differs substantially from epoch to epoch and from nation to nation. For reasons of special interest, this present volume confines itself primarily to the American version of anti-Semitism.

Still another limitation is observed. This is that our examination of the literature has been confined to materials published since 1930. The selection of this date is justified principally by the fact that literally nothing resembling modern empirical research appears in the literature before this date. Surely this can be said with some confidence, without implying that nothing was known about anti-Semitism before 1930. There are many ways of knowing. But we ought to distinguish them from each other and assess their separate reliability and usefulness. The selection of empirical, or experimental, research materials as a major focus of interest of this volume implies the author's own view that the knowledge gained by this kind of research has a value and trustworthiness substantially different from that claimed for other forms of knowing.

We are aware that the research materials are themselves not very conclusive. As the reader goes through the volume, he will see evidence of direct contradiction in the findings of various empirical researches into the same aspect of anti-Semitism. And even where direct contradiction is absent, there will be no scarcity of tangential contradiction.

Some may react to the indecisiveness of the research by congratulating themselves on the apparent correctness of their prior bias against empirical research. Others who are more concerned with the development of systematic knowledge will, it is hoped, take away from this volume a somewhat greater realization that if we are ever to settle some crucial issues that are now mooted, we are in sore need of extensive empirical research. This statement applies even to questions of the incidence or frequency of anti-Semitic discrimination. Gentiles usually insist . . .

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