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June 10, 1983 - Image 14

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Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-06-10

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14 Friday, June 10, 1983

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Classic 1940s AJCommittee Study of Prejudice is Re-Printed

By BORIS SMOLAR

its executive vice president
emeritus, initiated a
pioneering project to inves-
tigate scientifically the
roots and causes of racial,
religious and ethnic in-
tolerance, and to analyze
the effects of these prej-

munity in the United
States and Europe — as
one of "the 62 social sci-
NEW YORK — Some 40
ence research contribu-
years ago, Dr. John Slaw-
tions that have made the
son, then executive vice
greatest advances in the
president of the American
20th Century."
Jewish Committee and now
It still holds this position
today in the sphere of
human relations. After its
first edition, published by
Harper and Row in 1950,
BORIS SMOLAR
the study has seen several
udices on those who hold editions. This week — more
than 30 years since its first
them.
With millions of Jews printing — it re-appeared in
being annihilated by Hitler an abridged paperback edi-
in Europe at that time and tion of about 500 pages. The
with Nazi anti-Semitic hard-cover edition has been
propaganda finding follow- reprinted during the last 30
ers in the United States, Dr. years by three different
Slawson felt it was high publishers in the U.S. and
time for Jewish leadership Canada. The present
to get to the bottom of this abridged edition is pub-
"anti-Semitism" horror lished by W.W. Norton &
which has existed off and on Co. Four scientists are
for 2,500 years in practi- given as its authors. They
cally all parts of the world. are T.W. Adorno, Else
As top executive of the AJ- Frenkel-Brunswik, Daniel
Committee, he engaged Levinson and K. Nevitt
Prof. Max Horkheimer, the Sanford --- all prominent
academicians.
world-renowned
The enduring quality of
philosopher and social sci-
entist who was forced to flee "The Authoritarian Per-
Hitler's Germany with his sonality" testifies best to
Institute for Social Re- the value of this monumen-
search situated in tal study. The book has been
Frankfurt. A Department translated in every major
for Scientific Research was language. It has had — and
then established by the AJ- still does — an enormous
Committee to develop fun- impact. It is to the credit of
damental studies in the Dr. Slawson for initiating
phenomenon of prejudice the project and to. the
with the aim of helping its American Jewish Commit-
tee for sponsoring it.
eradication.
Horkheimer, who became
WM**W.EX, Wk
director of this department,
worked in cooperation with
leading universities'and
colleges throughout the
U.S., incorporating the re-
search of anthropologists,
historians, sociologists,
psychologists and other so-
cial scientists. A monumen-
tal study of the origins of
prejudice titled "The
Authoritarian Personality"
was the result. The volume
JOHN SLAWSON
was fifth in a series of five
Dr. Slawson believes that
volumes titled "Studies in
Prejudice" sponsored by the we will never totally elimi-
nate prejudice, or the kind
AJCommittee.
It was characterized by of people who promote or ac-
the New York Times — on cept prejudice, until we
the basis of an evaluation come to understand its deep,
by three prominent social underlying psychological
scientists representing causes: Today, the Ameri-
the social science corn- can public is being alerted
to the dangers of to-
talitarianism not only in
the Soviet Union but also in
other countries, including
Libya and other Moslem
lands as well as Latin
American countries. "The
Authoritarian Personality"
is therefore as pertinent
now as it was decades ago
when Dr. Slawson con-
ceived the idea of making a
highly specialized and most
extensive study on the sub-
ject of prejudice and anti-
Semitism.
The four academicians
who authored "The
Authoritari4n Personal-
ity" sought to discover
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why in • a democratic
country like the United
States broad sections of
the population still har-
bor and even
hatred for human beings
All
who happened to be
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different in race, religion
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and national origin. They
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looked for basic common
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denominators, in person-

(Editor-in-chief emeritus, JTA)
(Copyright 1983, JTA, Inc.)

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ality traits that would ex- decline notably.
plain why some people
There were never any
were willing to surrender anti-Jewish persecutions in
their social and political this country of the kind we
freedoms to those who now see in the Soviet Union.
preached hatred and Nor were there any pog-
practiced ruthlessness.
roms, or anti-Jewish legis-
The challenge they faced lation as was the case in
was not merely to describe
Czarist Russia, Romania,
prejudice but to explain it in
Poland and other countries
order to help in its eradica- before the war.
tion by means of scientifi-
Political anti-Semitism
cally planned re-education.
was not known in the U.S.
They found that the bigot until after World War I
was likely to be a meek, con- when Henry Ford started
forming individual, given to his anti-Semitic "Dear-
hasty generalizations, born Independent" and
stifled in his emotions, his dissemination of the
anti-social, low in moral notorious forgery "Pro-
values and of questionable tocols of the Elders of
ethical context. He placed Zion" — a product of the
great value on power, and Czarist regime in Russia.
by aligning himself — if He later regretted his
only in fantasy — with the acts, discontinued his
powerful, he added to his anti-Jewish efforts and
own sense of power. He publicly apologized in a
feared persons outside of his letter addressed to Louis
own group.
Marshall, then president
In seeking the roots of of the American Jewish
these traits, the four scien- Committee.
tists came to the conclusion
However, since that time
that, with a few exceptions, anti-Semitic groups like the
the reason for development Ku Klux Klan grew in the
of authoritarian char- country. They were fortified
acteristics is in most per- later in their anti-Jewish
sons to be found in their propaganda by Nazi agents
childhood and in the rela- and pro-Nazi elements in
tionship between them and the United States. Today,
their parents. They estab- the worst form of anti-
_ lished that evidence showed Jewish propaganda is the
overwhelmingly that chil- United Nations headquar-
dren who were subjected to ters in New York. Anti-
harsh discipline and lack- Jewish and anti-Israel
ing deep affection and speeches are delivered from
understanding grew up the platforms of the United
with a feeling of a world Nations General Assembly
dominated by brute force, as and inciting resolutions —
represented in their par- sponsored by the Com-
ents. Having grown up, they munist and Arab delega-
continued in adult life to tions — are adopted at ses-
seek symbols of authority in sions of the various UN
the society around them.
councils and agencies. The
Anti-Semitism has var- U.S. delegation at the UN
ious forms of expression. faces a very hard job in
There is what many in fighting the nefarious at-
this country consider as tempts of the Soviet-Arab
anti-Jewish snobbism blocs.
which expresses itself in
Political anti-Semitism is
rejecting Jews as practically non-existent
neighbors, in preventing today in this country. Jews
the renting of dwellings are being elected or ap-
to them in certain areas, pointed to high political
in not admitting them to positions on their merits.
certain hotels and resort We have today more Jewish
places, and in not accept- members in the U.S. Senate
ing them into member- and in the House of Repre-
ship of certain clubs.
sentatives than ever before.
This form of prejudice has We have Jewish mayors in a
been in existence since the number of cities, including
years of Jewish immigra- New York. We have Jewish
tion into this country from members in the Reagan
Germany, Bohemia- Administration. There are
Moravia and other central U.S. Ambassadors. People
European countries. It was who play a role in political
intensified during the years life are careful not to ex-
of mass immigration of press opinions offensive to
Jews from Czarist Russia Jews even though some of
and other East European them may carry anti-
countries. It declined sub- Jewish feelings.
stantially after World War
Notwithstanding all this,
II, when about three- there is still enough anti-
quarters of all the Jews in Jewish prejudice prevailing
the country were in this country — mostly
American-born, most of among ignorant people ---
them highly-educated and making books like "The
greatly contributing to the Authoritarian Personality"
development of the U.S. in pertinent in helping to up-
various spheres.
root anti-Semitic trends
Then there is the form of through
scientifically
anti-Jewish prejudice planned re-education.
which expresses itself in the
The AJCommittee activi-
economic field — in dis- ties in this direction which
criminating against Jews Dr. Slawson initiated more
when it comes to promoting than 40 years ago is an out-
employees to higher posi- standing contribution to
tions in banks, insurance this field. They are espe-
companies, utilities and cially important now when
various large industrial terror against Jews is grow-
enterprizes. This form of ing in various European
bigotry is also beginning to countries. , -

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