Mark Twain explained anti-Semitism as "the swollen envy of pygmy minds." Apparently, he was right.
"Sign and Sight" provides the first English excerpt from historian Götz Aly's new book "Why the Germans? Why the Jews? Equality, Envy and Racial Hatred 1800 - 1933".
"In other words, the extent to which the latecomers were catching up reflected their own shortcomings in education and dexterity. These shortcomings were becoming embarrassing and could easily be concealed behind racial theory. A good example stems from the Leipzig student Curt Müller who in 1890 wrote a pamphlet on "Judaism among German students." There were two things he didn't like about his fellow students: they would do anything "to the point of self-sacrifice" for their fellow believers and that in terms of percentages there were "not nearly as many failed Jewish students as there were Germanic." And why? Müller of course had the answer. The Jews are "more hard working and assiduous – you have to give them that”, they "swot like mad at home": "like all money-loving tribes (…) the Jews eat modestly. Over a glass of beer the Jewish law student speaks about his studies far more than is necessary! He doesn't stop chattering and that impresses people. He understands rapidly but with no depth. Why should he? Like this he gets through his exams in the prescribed time, and Germany is blessed with another Jewish referendarius." Later on they earn fast money as doctors, lawyers and chemists! This is the sort of language that informs every second sentence in Müller's pamphlet, until he finally chimes in: "Stand up to the Jewish students with superiority and pride!" German racial pride fed exclusively on feelings of inferiority.
In 1922 Wilhelm Stapel published his book "Anti-Semitism" for the cultivated, middle-class Jew adversary. If it is determined, he wrote, that our own kind "is being confused to the point of discomfort by another intellectual being, then – the devil take me – I have the right to defend myself in my way, regardless how brilliant and illustrious this other mind may be." Ten years later Stapel spoke out in response to the question of why Jewish quick-wittedness was so bothersome: "There would be no anti-Semitism if the Jews were capable of keeping their mouths shut. They can do everything except keep their mouths shut." In his day this widely read popular philosopher ascribed marvellous qualities to the most inhibited German silences: "grace", "aristocratic nature", "refinement" and "depth"."
"Civilization is not self-supporting. It is artificial. If you are not prepared to concern yourself with the upholding of civilization -- you are done." (Ortega y Gasset)
Tuesday, November 22, 2011