Readers may remind me that a good many prominent non-Jewish religionists have spoken out against various manifestations of anti-Jewish sentiment, and that the bodies they represent have supported them with official resolutions, declarations, and so on, quite in the regular way. That is so. Moreover there exists an organization called the Council Against Intolerance in America, formed within the last decade, in which clergymen, professors, civic leaders, and a few publicists, notably my old friend William Allen White, play a leading part. There is also the National Conference of Christians and Jews, likewise engineered chiefly by religionists, as its name implies. The work of these last two groups is in large part educational, spreading the gospel of tolerance in our schools and colleges.
All this is very good, very commendable, but even so one sees at once that it is far from filling the bill. If no emergency were impending, if we were assured of a couple of centuries free for the quiet maturing of a modus vivendi, one might say more for such efforts than can be said now, things being as they are. It is one thing to design a structure proof against ordinary action of the elements, but another thing to design one proof against earthquake.
Speaking only for myself, I am quite persuaded that the well-intentioned people behind these movements either do not know what the basic terms of their problem are, or for some reason are reluctant about putting them frankly before the more thoughtful element in our public. They appear not to approach the matter with the spirit of order and method appropriate to the contemplation of any project in social engineering. The first question is, What exactly do you want to do? The second is, What exactly are the difficulties and complications which have to be overcome? Until these questions are answered satisfactorily and in full, you have simply nothing for your social engineers to go on with; and while the first question is easily answered presumably there is complete general agreement on that—all I know of the work of these conciliatory movements testifies that their spokesmen are merely fumbling with the second.
My own rather anxious view of the consequences of ignoring the terms of this problem may be thought extreme, so I shall state it frankly; not at all wishing to convert anyone to it – never that—but because by so doing I can show more clearly my reasons for writing in this unfamiliar vein. For many years now I have been watching economic theory in this country shift from style to style, as fantastic as the styles in women's hats. Does anyone recall, for instance, the 'new' economics which swept the country in Coolidge's day, whereby it was most learnedly demonstrated not only that we could eat our cake and have it too, but that; the cake might go on and on forever, automatically producing itself, and all free, gratis and for nothing? Looking ahead with a short-time view, I should expect credit inflation, currency inflation, repudiation, and perhaps great civil disturbances.