Gradually, more and more, much of the business life and social life of our larger communities is beginning to centre around clubs. More and more Jews, and here and there Catholics, are being excluded from such clubs. Still, Jews and Catholics form a fairly large and important element of the population. In so far as they have not acquired the education, point of view, and habits of the Protestant Nordic races, it is natural that they would be excluded, but such differences tend to disappear in the course of a few generations. The present tendency, however, is to make the cleavage permanent and to introduce what in time will amount to a caste system in its way as rigid as any devised in the East. Whether this will make for a more unified nation and whether this is in accord with the doctrines of the founders of the country I leave my readers to judge.
The difference between the system of social organization in this country and that of Europe is much the same as that underlying the organization of the student body in those institutions of higher learning where there are fraternities and sororities and those where these do not exist. In the former the students are forced early into rigid and unchanging groups; in the latter there is constant flux, and even a Jewish boy or girl has an opportunity, if found desirable and agreeable, to make friends outside of his or her coreligionists. So in the cafés of Europe men meet and intermingle; those who find each other congenial will congregate together regardless of race or religion. In practice it is true that some social groups will not care for Jews, others may be composed largely of Jews, but in practically all instances the determining factors will not be race or religion, but a community of interest, taste, education, and culture, and those indefinable qualities which attract men to one another. My objection to our system is that these qualities are not allowed free play, but that purely artificial distinctions have been built up. In many clubs which refuse membership to Jews, probably few members have individually any objection to Jews, many of them probably have Jewish friends, but as a club—Heaven forbid that Jews be ever admitted! It would make the club less exclusive in comparison with other clubs, and therefore less desirable. The fact is always emphasized that so many Jews have qualities which are undesirable and disagreeable, that even if there be a Jew who is personally agreeable, he cannot be admitted because he would immediately bring others. This has always seemed to me a lame argument. Clubs discriminate between Gentile and Gentile. No membership committee feels bound to admit all Presbyterians because some members of the club attend the services of the Presbyterian Church, nor to admit all people with dark hair and short noses because a majority of the members in the club have dark hair and short noses. A Jew should not be admitted to a club because he is a Jew any more than he should be excluded because he is a Jew.
Undoubtedly, it will be felt that I am making a mountain out of a molehill and that in the everyday life of our people, Jews and others, all this plays no role. It may be felt that what I say concerns only a small class of the wealthy who have not been accorded the social recognition which they believe to be their due. But this is not the whole story. I have dwelt at length upon clubs, because the facts there are less easily denied; there they have become generally recognized. For as I stated at the outset, the trouble with so much of it all is that it is hidden and not admitted, and so cannot be fought in the open. The Jewish controversy at Harvard is well known. It was at least open and above board, though it made the lot of Harvard men of Jewish extraction more difficult. However, at Harvard the question was settled in such fashion that the Jew is not discriminated against officially, at any rate. At many other universities, however, the same problem has appeared and open discussion has been carefully avoided for fear of giving offense to possible donors with Jewish antecedents. It is well known, however, that Jewish boys and girls have much difficulty in gaining admission to these institutions, and conditions similar to those in Romania, Poland, and various Balkan states have developed.