I enjoyed the section in Takakai where he talked about the assimilation of the Jews from Russia into America. Clearly they were a determined hard working people who scraped, struggled and fought for a better life from the moment they stepped onto American soil. What is interesting to me is the animosity that came their way from other Americans way once they “made it”. It seemed that their meteoric success and quick assimilation into the culture and lifestyle was threatening to many. On page 289 it says,
Ironically, the very success of Jews in America seemed to fuel anti-Semitism. The Jews “reaped more and more dislike as they bettered themselves,” noted historian John Higham. “The more avidly they reached out for acceptance and participation in American life, the more their reputation seemed to suffer.” It is not the failure of Jews to be assimilated into undergraduate society which trouble them (President Lowell and the supporters of quotas),” observed Harace Kallen in 1923. “They do not want Jews to be assimilated into undergraduate society. What troubles them is the completeness with which Jews want to and have been assimilated.”
Henry Ford led an anti-Semitic campaign against “international Jews” whose loyalties were “allegedly not to America but on to their greedy interests.” Really? This is coming from Henry Ford, capitalist extraordinaire! How ironic for him to say this. How dare the Jewish people should seek to better their lives through a capitalistic system that had most certainly rewarded Henry Ford also! Were not Henry Ford’s interests greedy also, or was he simply building cars to “donate” to American people.
The theme that keeps repeating in the readings is one of greed, envy and consequently fear of others who are “different.” It’s almost like once people finally made it to the (member’s only) upper class society in an emerging America they didn’t want their dominance to be questioned or...