Thursday, July 31, 2014

Jews Accused of "Negrophobia" in an Op-Ed from 1882

The Christian Recorder was an African American Newspaper. The following was published in an Op-Ed, on June 1, 1882. It's a fascinating glimpse into the mindset of African Americans and their first cautious steps in a volatile post-slavery America. It is especially interesting how the tiny Jewish community was perceived by the African American intellegensia of the time. 


We have no desire to put a straw in the way of the most cordial reception to the Jewish exiles immigrating to our country. On the contrary, they command the sincerest sympathy of our nature, as do any outraged peoples. Having felt the fire ourselves, we know somewhat of the hurt. And yet we cannot refrain from criticising the spirit that actuates, possibly, a majority of the Jews in our country - the spirit that leads them to seek alliance with the very class of men who are the terror of their trans-atlantic brethren. Like the majority of the Irish coming among us, they seem instinctively to take to democracy and the spirit of negrophobia in general. While slavery lasted, they were among the meanest of those who engaged in it. And when the South rebelled in the interest of the peculiar institution, Jewish brain in the purpose of Judah Benjamin, lent its chief force. Nor have they greatly changed since. Chief of those in Congress who railed against the Chinese, were Belmont, of New York, and Jonas of Louisiana, both Jews . Nor are these to be looked upon in the light of exceptions. Read the following, from the Hebrew Leader, of May 19, which though only a straw, still shows which way the current runs: “The press has ventilated the terrible condition of these persecuted people, but the usual generosity of the American in responding to the cry for succor has not followed, and the reason must be traced to a certain stupid prejudice against the class of Jews who came from Russia. But it would be extraordinary if these poor people were cultured and attractive. They are what centuries of oppression have made them. Similar causes produce similar effects on all men of the Caucasian race.” Our first remark on the above is that whatever be the prejudice of the American people to Jews , it is general and not particular, as the Leader says. Americans could have no prejudice to Russian Jews , because these have not come to us in sufficient numbers to make themselves specially known. Indeed the average American does not know whether the Jew he meets is Spanish, German Polish or Russian. He only knows him as a Jew . And if he be prejudiced at all, it is against the race and not the nation. Our second remark relates to the statement: “Similar causes produce similar effects on all men of the Caucasian race.” The question whether the Jews are to be ranked with the Caucasian race, seems to be clearer to the mind of the Leader than it does to some other people. The “American Cyclopaedia,” for instance, under the head, Caucasian Race, says: --- To it belong all the ancient and modern Europeans, excepting the Finish tribes, the Indians, Persians, Phoenicians, HEBREWS, Arabs and other tribes of West Asia.” But supposing they do belong to the Caucasian race, is not the statement of this Jew an exceedingly narrow one, and does it not indicate a narrowness of soul that does not befit an American citizen, even though he be a member of a race that has been kicked and cuffed through all time; and is today, in more quarters of the globe than one, the subject of this same kicking and cuffing process? Does he not know that similar causes produce similar effects on all races; and not especially on the Caucasian? Take almost any of the African nations of today, at whom the Leader indirectly points its dart. When the Jew was in his prime, were not these also? Did not their great Solomon take to himself a Pharaonic wife? And is it not more than tradition that his descendents today rule Abysinia? Like the Jew in Russia, the peoples of both these once powerful and cultured nations, are what “centuries of oppression have made them.” In conclusion, we say to the American Jew what we say to the American Irish, if you wish American help, you must stop giving aid and sympathy to oppression at home, while pleading to be freed from it abroad. THE editor of the Missouri Republican - republican by name but democratic by profession - asks the following questions, giving them, of course, negative answers: “If the five million colored people in this country were given a fair and ample domain in the extreme South - any Florida, Louisiana, Texas, or a strip along the gulf embracing parts of all these states and of Alabama and Mississippi, as a field to make the experiment of self-government in - what would be the result? Would the black man in that favoring climate and under the most kindly influences that could be extended to him, do what the white man has done with such signal success in the North, in the East, South and the West? Would he found a powerful and enlightened state like Massachusetts, or Michigan, or the equal of Georgia and Mississippi, studded with temples, seminaries, school houses, mills, factories and work-shops, and yielding hundreds of millions in value of varied products as a contribution to the world's commerce? No long array of facts or argument is needed to silence such “quaker guns,” as these questions are. Have the white people in possession of “Florida, Louisiana, Texas, or the strip along the Gulf, embracing parts of all these states and of Alabama and Mississippi” - have these white people, we say, accomplished what he demands the colored people to accomplish? Have they done what has been done in the North? This we say: Let the black men of that region be the upper rail as long as the white men have been, and if they do not make Louisiana, and Mississippi, and all the region alluded to as nearly like the great North and West, as have done the white man, then we will admit that they are no more their equals.


At Monday, August 04, 2014 4:35:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you. Very interesting.


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