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Blaming Jews For The Financial Crisis

Just in time for Jewish-American Heritage Month, here's a bit of disturbing news from the Boston Review (HT: Brainiac):

"In order to assess explicit prejudice toward Jews, we directly asked respondents “How much to blame were the Jews for the financial crisis?” with responses falling under five categories: a great deal, a lot, a moderate amount, a little, not at all. Among non-Jewish respondents, a strikingly high 24.6 percent of Americans blamed “the Jews” a moderate amount or more, and 38.4 percent attributed at least some level of blame to the group."

Most surprisingly given the liberal Jewish tradition in the United States, Democrats were more likely to blame Jews than Republicans:

"...while 32 percent of Democrats accorded at least moderate blame, only 18.4 percent of Republicans did so (a statistically significant difference)."

The Review also points out that antisemitism and financial crises have gone hand-in-hand in the past.

"Famously, the Panama Scandal—often described as the biggest case of monetary corruption of the nineteenth century—led to the downfall of Clemenceau’s government in France and involved bribes to many cabinet members and hundreds of parliament members. Nonetheless, the public’s fury centered on two Jewish men who were in charge of distributing corporate bribe money to the politicians."

Another instance involves the Panic of 1873 in which German politicians and investors blamed Jewish financiers for the market crash.

The survey comes on the heels of one conducted in Europe which found that 31 percent of Europeans across seven countries (Austria, France, Hungary, Poland, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom) believed Jews were behind the financial crisis. 

The nice way of countering this idiotic racism might be to point out the number of Jews in the current administration and elsewhere who are trying to solve the crisis. But that could be futile. Harvard economist Ed Glaeser pointed out in a 2002 paper that one of the most efficient ways to fight racism is by "building hatred against the haters. This mechanism taps into the same emotional mechanisms that hatred itself uses, but turns them against those who hate minorities...If we are to fight hatred, then we must try to change the incentives faced by the suppliers and consumers of hate."

--Zubin Jelveh