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March 02, 1990 - Image 7

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-03-02

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

CONTENTS

Anti-Semitism And A
Mayoral Election

GARY A. TOBIN

Special to The Jewish News

T

he recent election of
New York's first black
mayor may tell us a
great deal about anti-
Semitism. Most post-election
attention in the Jewish com-
munity has been centered on
the election's implications for
the strained black-Jewish
political alliance. Other
analysts have focused upon
the accuracy of both pre-
election and exit polls. The
polls missed something, and
the "something" is linked to
understanding co _ ntemporary
anti-Semitism.
It is indisputable that more
whites said that they were go-
ing to vote for Dinkins than
actually did. The proportion
of whites who said at the exit
polls that they had voted for
Dinkins was substantially
less than the actual tally.
The inaccuracy of these
election polls does not cast

It is indisputable
that more whites
said that they
were going to vote
for Dinkins than
actually did.

doubt on polling as either an
art or a science. The accuracy
of polls has been demonstrat-
ed over and over again in a
multitude of elections over
the past decade. The infre-
quency of wrong predictions is
such that when these kinds of
results are recorded the issue
should be not how accurate
are polls, but why wasn't this
particular poll accurate? The
predictive value of polls has
been demonstrated countless
times. Inaccuracies are an
aberration and reveal
something.
Since the 1960s, the expres-
sion of blatant racial and
religious prejudice has
become less acceptable, either
socially or politically. Overt
racism or anti-Semitism is
now taboo in the political
arena. People like Lewis Far-
rakhan or David Duke can
get away with it. But Jesse
Jackson, if he is not to be seen
as a Farrakhan or Duke, has
to soft pedal or back pedal
from overt anti-Semitism.

Gary A. Tobin is director of
the Cohen Center for Modern
Jewish Studies at Brandeis
University.

People use code words and
phrases like "the wrong ele-
ment" when they're talking
about poor blacks moving in-
to a neighborhood, or children
who need "remedial educa-
tion" to denote black
students, or "New York
liberal" to describe a Jew. Use
of the words "nigger" and
"kike" are no longer accep-
table in any but the most
private settings. The public
persona is one of equality,
fairness, and giving lip ser-
vice to such statements as: "I
would vote for somebody no
matter what his race or
religion; I do not care who my
children marry," and other
traditional attitudinal
measures that gauge levels of
prejudice. That these norms
have changed is, of course, a
positive trend.
These are the tools of
survey research and polls us-
ed to measure levels of racism
and anti-Semitism. It should
come as no surprise that peo-
ple will tend not to be for-
thright when answering poll
questions about race and
religion and their attitudes
toward other racial and
ethnic groups. They are not
unlikely to give an expected
response or what they believe
is the desired response to the
questions asked. They are
supposed to vote for a
Democrat if they are a
Democrat, regardless of his
race. Therefore they say they
will or did, even when it was
not so.
This tendency casts serious
doubts upon the polls that are
used to measure racism and
anti-Semitism. Many organ-
izations rely on these polls to
demonstrate that levels of
racism and anti-Semitism
have decreased over the past
thirty years. But it is obvious
that some people answer
these questions the way they
think they are supposed to.
They will not say that Jews
are too pushy or that Jews
have too much power in the
business world, or other tradi-
tional anti-Jewish stereo-
types because they know they
are not supposed to. They may
also hide their feelings about
other groups as well.
The gut feeling of many
Jews that there are more non-
Jews who hold anti-Semitic
attitudes than the polls show
is strengthened by the
Dinkins election experience.
More non-Jews may say that
they accept Jews in particular
ways than is actually the
case. Of course, there is other
Continued on Page14

22

NOTEBOOK

.

The Laundromat

GARY ROSENBLATT
A high-powered club
has a unique Israeli location

24

CLOSE-UP

Dividing Lines

KIMBERLY LIFTON
Township votes raise
questions in West Bloomfield.

36

BEHIND THE HEADLINES

Economizing

ARTHUR J. MAGIDA

24

AJCommittee's money woes
spell demise for Present Tense.

center

Our family section looks
at Purim . . . and alcohol abuse.

ENTERTAINMENT

Alla's Allegiance

ADRIEN CHANDLER
Last November, music teacher
Alla Begun began a new life.

76

THE ARTS

76 Maxie's
Marvelous Mail

ELIZABETH APPLEBAUM
An Oak Park artist exhibits
"peaceful" mail art.

85

TEENS

Real Twinning

KAREN A. KATZ
A bar mitzvah tomorrow
pairs two new friends.

DEPARTMENTS

30
44
47
48
52

Inside Washington
Business
Community
Synagogues
Sports

88
92
94
98
122

Engagements
Births
Single Life
Classified Ads
Obituaries

CANDLELIGHTING

85

6:06 p.m.
Friday, March 2, 1990
Sabbath ends March 3 7:08 p.m.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

7

ONTEN T

OPINION

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