Organized Anti-Semitism in America: The Rise of Group Prejudice during the Decade 1930-40

By Donald S. Strong | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
Anti-Semitism in the United States

THE MAJOR purpose of the foregoing analysis is to show that the anti-revolutionary, anti-semitic ideology that has recently appeared in the United States is not a unique phenomenon. Far from being distinctly American, the ideology may appear in any country under certain conditions. The America of 1933-1940 has had several of these conditions: a severe depression and, in the opinion of some persons, a serious growth of revolutionary ideology.

In dealing with the latter aspect, it should be noted that the growth of genuine revolutionary sentiment in the United States has, of course, been slight. True, the revolutionary parties have been attracting somewhat more attention than usual. True, the reformist policies of the New Deal have appeared comparatively "revolutionary". But there has been no sign of any genuine revolutionary movement of significant proportions.1 This, however, may be beside the point. The important fact is that some Americans, believing that a revolutionary movement has been growing, have been alarmed. This fear and, of course, economic privation, are the motivating factors in the appearance of 121 anti-revolutionary, anti-semitic organizations during the years 1933-1940.

When these organizations first began to make their appearance, their ideology was not entirely new. Anti-semitism in the United States may be considered as a phase of the anti-alien sentiment that has periodically manifested itself. The Jew is the perpetual alien. Since he is frequently identified as a member of a separate group, he is invariably a victim of any anti-alien movement.

The first anti-alien movement in the United States occurred during the administration of John Adams and resulted in the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts. Another such movement flourished in the 1850's in the form of the Know-Nothing or American Party, a secret political organization aimed chiefly against the Irish Catholic immigrants who had become supporters of the Democratic Party. A third movement, sponsored by the American Protective Association during the years 1887-1894, was also directed against Catholic immigrants. The great wave of immigration that began in the 1890's brought many

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