The Social Disability of the Jew

"You cannot do the Jews and the community at large a greater service than by excluding the undesirable members of their race."

It is easy enough to see why this charge is defensible. Our Jewish immigrants have come to America to earn their bread. The majority, when landing, are poor, without the advantages of an education. They mend their worldly condition, but not their minds. The result is obvious. Their possession of material wealth and of the comforts of life gives them a false sense of social values. Secure in the conviction that they possess the great desideratum, they become self-assertive. They forget that the money which buys them a box at the opera or an apartment at a fashionable hotel has not bought for them culture. They take the shadow for the substance. The defense that they are merely copying the American parvenu is no justification.

Do my Jewish readers wonder that the doors of summer hotels, where our parvenus sprawl in shameless familiarity, are closed to them and their people? I have not a single word of defense of the vulgar exhibitions of Jewish people in public places. These upstarts bring the blush of shame to the face of every decent Jew, who would show more loyalty to his race by open condemnation than by halfhearted defense or pouting resentment.

The exclusion of Jews from college fraternities is another case in point, in many frank interviews with fraternity men we have received the impression that they do, not want Jewish boys because of their bad manners. This is a sane and commendable stand. On the other hand, we know of instances where Jewish boys were "rushed" for a fraternity, and dropped just in time, with rather undignified alacrity, when they announced their racial "disability." These boys were young fellows of culture, and apart from their origin, desirable associates in every respect. Their exclusion was an expression hidebound prejudice, rearing its head in the institution which more than all others should be liberal in thought.

Now we wish to say to the young men of American colleges that from them will spring the representative men of the future of this Republic. The university stands for education and culture, for liberal thought and decent action, for justice, and for all the qualities which combine to make a gentleman. It stands for a type of man, unfortunately rare, of the stamp of the man Roosevelt. Do you represent that type? Are you loyal to the spirit of the Constitution of your country when you debase your manhood in blind intolerance? Are you good Christians? Does your faculty, which supplies you with Jewish teachers, connive at your actions? Do you honor Jesus when you spurn the race from which he is sprung? Do you remember Emerson's "the education at college of fools?" You cannot do the Jews and the community at large a greater service than by excluding the undesirable members of their race. But you cannot afford to stultify yourselves by a sweeping generalization.

Not only bad manners, but other faults which may be charged against the Jewish people, are fostered by the close family affiliation of the Jews. That this condition has arisen from necessity rather than choice does not alter the fact, or invalidate the statement that it is the Jew himself who must remedy the situation. For remedied it must be. This close family affiliation has, through its very excess, ceased to be an unmixed virtue. It serves to perpetuate objectionable idiosyncrasies, and narrows the sympathies. Not all the lavishness with which the Jew contributes to charities can give him the true spirit of altruism, so long as his interest is so strongly centred in his family. The projection of self into the next of kin savors strongly of selfishness masquerading as love. And the deadly monotony of family reunions is the thief of individual development. "Why," says Emerson, "should we assume the faults of our friend, or wife, or father, or child, because they sit around our hearth or are said to have the same blood? All men have my blood, and I have all men's." Men should not be able to say of us, "If I know your sect, I anticipate your argument." Rather we should be able to say, "I shun father and mother, and wife and brother, when my genius calls me."

We believe that the Jewish home is the nursery for the perpetuation of idiosyncrasies which tend to aggravate, instead of to relax, the social disabilities of the Jew.

Another of the most intense Jewish characteristics is the adoration of the child. The physical well-being of our offspring is made to assume undue priority over the spiritual life. Physical privation for the child, even within the limits of hygienic restraint, wrings the tender heart of the Jewish parent. Hence the fear of disease obtains to a degree little short of monomania. It is not difficult to perceive the softening influence of this domestic management. The child, become an object of anxious solicitude, is usually restrained from the more hardy play of his young neighbors, and a retarded physical development is the result. In the mean time, he becomes excessively self-conscious. Excluded from physical competition, he attempts to assert himself mentally—too frequently to the ill-concealed delight of doting parents who find compensation in the precociousness of their stunted children. The product of this bad training is a high-strung child, lacking in physical courage and over-impressed with its importance in the community. Its egotism, extending into the years of adult life, is bound to receive some very painful shocks. In the interest of fairness, this is the place to state that the children of Christian Americans, although usually not permitted to suffer in physical development, are likewise shamefully pampered. They share with Jewish children a distorted view of the relation of things, —enormously enlarged and distorted images of their tastes, their clothes, their likes, their aversions, and their talents,— and they have in addition a large bump of irreverence.

The suppression of physical development in Jewish children makes them a tempting butt for their neighbor. The bully is usually safe in hurling a race insult against the Jewish boy. The Irish, who also seem possessed of a comical inclination to class themselves among the oppressed nations, would give short shrift to any one venturing aspersions against their race. The Jew would make a better man and a fitter protagonist for his people if he possessed the qualifications to resent a race insult, not by "dignified" silence, but by the more direct manual argumentum ad hominem.

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