Social Psychology: An Analysis of Social Behavior

Chapter 19: Prejudice (continued)

Kimball Young

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A. White-Oriental Prejudices.

In this country, extreme prejudice against Orientals is largely confined to the Pacific Coast, where White-Oriental problems are most acute. Of the milder sort of prejudice which is diffused over the country, perhaps the best illustration is to be found in our college towns. In most of our larger universities there is a sprinkling of Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Filipino students, with here and there a Hindoo. These students, who are usually from the aristocratic and upper commercial classes of the Orient, commonly experience real difficulty in securing housing facilities on a basis of equality with the white students. They are frequently denied admission to college dormitories. The typical rooming-house keeper, even if not prejudiced, refuses to take them because it will ruin her trade with white student clientele.

G., a professor in a Philippine university, brought his family to the states while he completed his doctorate. He speaks excellent English; he is educated and cultivated in every sense of the word. He was refused houses and apartments in the better neighborhoods because the native Americans thought him negroid. He was embarrassed, and his cultured wife, who comes from a well-considered family in her own country, was distinctly shocked. The family was finally forced to rent a house in an undesirable section of the city. G. was extremely popular among the students who knew him. In the university community he felt little or no social pressure. But the town population was nearer the traditional American stereotypes about colored races and as usual substituted abstract labels for discrimination among individuals.

Chinese and Japanese students report similar experiences in almost every college or university community.

The prejudice against Orientals has both a color basis and an economic basis. The Anglo-American distaste for colored races came into play at the time when the Chinese appeared among us. However, the intense prejudice

(479) grew up only when the Chinese began to compete with white labor on the Pacific Coast. So long as the Chinaman was an occasional cook, or a laundryman not in competition with white labor, he was tolerated. When in the 70's and 80's he appeared in large numbers as cheap labor, he promptly came into conflict with the white groups. Legislation barred his further immigration into this country, and since that time the Chinese have not been the victims of any marked prejudices in the Far West.

With the Japanese much the same process has taken place. Prejudice is largely a matter of economic competition rationalized in terms of a Yellow Peril and a fear of giving way to strange and more ambitious people. The Japanese have been accorded much more intelligence than the negro, hence the fear of them is that much stronger in the minds of the white inhabitants of California, Oregon, and Washington. As one man said, "They are sly and dangerous." The typical attitude was expressed at an American Legion convention at Redmond, Oregon, in February, 1922:

Five American Legion posts in central Oregon took action last night emphatically to oppose the colonization of Japanese on irrigated farmlands in the Deschutes valley. Opposition is to be exerted through a central organization, consisting of two representatives from each local organization . . . .

"Education is a good idea, but it is a fact that some of the most notable reforms were made possible only by the use of means other than peaceful," said Mayor Hosch.

"We know the result of Japanese colonization in California and the trouble that state is having with Asiatics," said W. T. McNulty, Sisters post commander, "We do not want a duplication of that situation in central Oregon or any part of Oregon. Our answer must be emphatic."[1]

It is interesting to note that contemporary Japanese opinion is even more distinctly fearful of American aggression in the Orient. The United States is thought to hover over the Pacific in an attempt to stop the natural expansion of the Oriental peoples. The fears of both Americans and Japanese are those of an in-group facing an out-group.

A general color prejudice against Orientals is revealed in an incident told by an American woman who was very sympathetic to Oriental students:

A young Hindu of the Brahman caste was an honored member of my family for seven months. Late one evening, when it was necessary to go into the city,

(480) he kindly offered to take me in his automobile. When we reached the city and he tried to stop his car, the brake did not hold perfectly and we struck the car directly in front of us slightly. The Hindu student was the essence of courtesy and immediately sprang out of the car, inquiring anxiously of the American from the car in front about the extent of the damage done, and expressing his desire to make reparation. His inquiries were met with curses and an immediate demand for ten dollars. It was obvious that the damage was very slight, and the student refused to pay the ten dollars, but said that he would go with the owner of the car to the garage and pay whatever charges were necessary to have the slightly bent fender repaired. Another tirade of words came from the man, and he very rudely and brutally said, "You will come with me to the police court."

At that moment I stepped out of the car. It was dark and the man had not seen me. I said to him, "There is no cause for you to be excited. We will take care of the damage." He replied, "I beg your pardon. I did not know that 'there was a white woman in the car. I am sorry I spoke as I did."

I then gave him my address and told him to have the car repaired and send the bill to me. He got into his car and we heard nothing more from him, and no bill was presented.

B. Nationality Prejudices.

1. International Antagonisms in Europe.— Racial prejudice and national prejudice have much in common. In Europe nationality prejudice has had a distinct growth, especially since the war. These antagonistic Patterns are rooted deeply in nationalistic rivalries. Through myths and legends the children of various countries acquire prejudices about their own superiority and the inferiority of the other national groups. Differences in language and culture content enhance these chauvinistic beliefs. Antagonistic attitudes between Germany and France, restimulated by the war, can hardly disappear for generations. After more than ten years of peace, decided prepossessions still color the international policies of both countries. In the first years after the war the feeling of hostility toward and fear of Germany was peculiarly strong in France. In Germany, not only did the populace chafe under the terms of the treaty, but the French occupation of the Ruhr and the Rhineland enhanced prejudices anti misunderstanding. We may also note that the quartering of French colonial troops in the occupied areas produced a type of color prejudice formerly unknown there. A double basis for this antagonism was probably the enforced contact with negroes as military policemen and the fact that the French were deliber-

(481) -ately fostering resistance in order to make political capital. The following news item reveals how social pressure mobilizes itself to enforce prejudices:

Bremerhaven, June 2.— Woe be to the German girl seen in Bremerhaven with a Frenchman or Belgian, or in the company of any man whose skin is racially colored.

The "Lower Weser Branch of the Scissors Club" has been formed here for the purpose of snipping off the hair of any "Fräulein" who associates with such foreigners, among whom it includes natives of India, negroes, Chinese and Japanese. All tresses thus obtained are sold and proceeds devoted to Ruhr relief.[2]

An increase in the intensity and extent of prejudices in Europe naturally followed the international conflict of 1914-1918 and subsequent political and economic measures. [3] Behind these, however, lie older patterns to which the newer stereotypes fasten themselves. Thus prejudices, when they concern the more serious problems of group survival, always tend to organize themselves into larger patterns connected with nationalistic myths and legends. They constitute the new definitions of situations and consequently determine the social interaction of the various nationals who come into contact with one another [4]

2. Anti-Foreigner Prejudice in America.— In our own country the nationality prejudice is directed very largely against newly arrived immigrants. The "Native American" and "One Hundred Per Cent Americanism" movements are an expression of the desire of those already in power to maintain their superiority against the newcomers. Antagonistic attitudes and their attendant behavior patterns have existed almost from the first generation of our national life. Uninformed people sometimes imagine that One Hundred Percentism is a reaction against the flood of peoples from eastern and southern Europe which marked our immigration from 1880

( 482) to 1914. As a matter of fact, the same treatment of foreigners, the same attitudes, have been prevalent since 1817, when the Irish first began to appear in considerable numbers in this country. In 1817 the American Daily Advertiser commented on the coming of the Irish:

Let us not forget, before it is too late, what motive brings these people to our shores. Let us remember that it is cheap lands, high wages, food in plenty, and freedom from military service; not a love of our institutions, or a belief that our form of government is better than they have. Let us remember that they come with all the prejudices which are the result of race and early training, and that in welcoming what seem to be the oppressed of other lands, we may really be taking an adder into our bosom:[5]

The prejudices of the old population against the new have continued throughout our history. Only the objects of the prejudice have changed. When the Irish had established themselves in our political, economic, and social life, the Germans came in for adverse treatment. Afterwards, when the German-American was assimilated, prejudice was directed against the still newer arrivals— Italians, Jews, and Slavic peoples. In the 1830's a number of patriotic bodies were organized. In 1835 "The Democratic Association of Native Americans" pledged its support to Harrison in the presidential campaign. In July, 1837, "The Native American Association of the United States" was founded in Washington, D. C. Riots and disturbances of various sorts ensued between the foreigners and the Native Americans. The causes of friction were basically economic, but rationalized in political and religious terms. Religion was a common excuse for opposing immigration. Out of it we have the rise of the still-current legend of a Papal plot to undo the American democracy. As early as 1838 the Citizens of Sutton and Millbury, Massachusetts petitioned Congress to inform them, among other things:

Whether there are not designs against the liberties of our country by means of this great influx of foreign emigration? Whether the character of many of the emigrants does not augur a vast increase of pauperism and of crime in our land? Whether there is nut a foreign conspiracy existing against the government of this great republic and measures adopted and plans now in operation for its execution?[6]


The agitation continued down to the Civil War. Various associations were organized for the defense of Native American Labor. The Know Nothing Party founded in the 50's was distinctly a Nativist movement. It adopted the technique of a secret society to gain its ends. The organizes' prejudice of this group incited fear and antagonism in the foreign-born and in some instances led to open conflict. Abraham Lincoln is worth quoting to obtain a calm and rational criticism of the whole prejudice. In 1855 he wrote to his friend Speed:

I am not a Know Nothing, that is certain . . . . How can any one who abhors the oppression of negroes be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me pretty rapid. As a nation we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except negroes." When the Know Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal except negroes, and foreigners and Catholics." When it comes to this, I shall prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty— to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.[7]

Recent One Hundred Percentism has become entangled with the ideology of the Nordic race thesis— thus coupling another myth with a current conflict. This myth began its career with the publication in 1853 Of Comte de Gobineau's The Inequality of the Human Races. This hypothesis, somewhat modified, caught on to the rising Germanic tradition of greatness which had such growth in the Bismarckian period. In turn, a new type of mythical anthropology and history arose in Houston Stewart Chamberlain's monumental Foundations of the Nineteenth Century. The whole doctrine formed one of the rationalizations for the rising power of the newly formed German Empire and helped to perpetuate the myth of Germany's place in the sun. The doctrine, modified again to suit our own American English and Puritan tradition, took vogue with us with the publication in 1916 of Madison Grant's The Passing of the Great Race. This Nordic myth has been spread far and wide through the writings of such men as Lothrop Stoddard and Charles J. Could. Since it fitted into, their scheme, the Ku Klux Klan took up the battle cry. So did the Daughters of the American Revolution and other patriotic associations bent on bolstering up the superiority thesis of the older population against the inroads

(484) of divergent peoples and cultures. The popular literature of the period from 1917 to 1925, particularly, is filled with this ideology. It has been so common and so frequently commented on that we need not describe here its psychological and cultural roots. The following brief editorials from an Hundred Per Cent American newspaper are illustrative of the attitudes. The first deals with the matter of white supremacy:

Do you believe in. "White Supremacy"? Of course you do, if you are a white man. Then why in a country that is so preponderantly of the Nordic race should the right of "White Supremacy" be questioned? Not because of the Jap on the west coast. Not because of the few of every race under the sun which are within our borders.

The Mongolian, the Semite, the Ethiopian, the Malay each have a "pride of race" as they have a perfect right to have. What is the answer? Miscegenation. The half-breed, the quarter blood-the taint.

The real black man does not want to be white. The Chinaman is proud of his nationality. But each Being with white blood in his veins aspires to the place of a white man and tries to put himself on a plane of equality with a white man in a white man's country. He will use every means that he can find in order to attain his ends. Even will he call upon the colored race from which he sprang to assist him in accomplishing his designs.

Anyone who has lived in the South will tell you that the dangerous element is the "mulatto." But you say I know many white people who advocate social equality of the races. SO? Can you prove that statement? May it not be that there is a taint?

Think it over.[8]

The second is especially directed against the foreigners within our gates who do not appreciate our kindness in permitting them to stay here:

You certainly have the right to forbid that neighbor in the next block from coming upon your premises, digging up your lawn, sitting in your hammock or playing with your croquet set. When you want your relatives to live with you, they are invited to come and if you don't invite them you would think that they had their "nerve" if they insisted on coming, and would probably give them the "boot."

If your cousin lived with you and tried to bring his brothers and sisters to live with you also you would undoubtedly order him to leave.

You are the master of your own home and the king of your castle and the white people of the Nordic races are the rightful and righteous inhabitants of the North American continent. They conquered the wilderness, they builded

(485) this nation, they have perpetuated the ideals of freedom and are to continue to do so in spite of cousins, aunts, uncles or any other human being or agency. The European has been invited to live with us, the Oriental we have told to stay at home.

We still invite the white man to our shores but we are going to tell him when to come and how to come and in what numbers. Until he has proven his right to remain he is just an invited guest. If he proves unworthy he must leave and Americans are not to be dictated to by him or any of his relatives across the pond.[9]

The typical in-group superiority is expressed throughout. The substance of rationalizations may differ, but the fundamental attitudes remain the same.

Like all other attitudes, prejudices against foreigners and their children are constructed through early conditioning. The home, the neighborhood, the school, and the church all play a part in the process. Lasker recently published an analysis of the factors which contribute to the development of prejudices. His Race Attitudes in Children (1929) is a mine of valuable information. He shows how in the younger children avoidance and antagonism are built up out of fear, cruelty, combativeness, and ridicule, and how in adolescence condescension, rivalry, and class consciousness are added. As we have already noted, prejudice is not purely personal-social in origin but is an outgrowth of culture patterns built around in-group— out-group relations. Parents forbid their children to play with Italian children whom they meet on the street or in the public parks, and thus induce negative reactions toward the foreigners. The principal of a public school in an American city of 60,000 with a large Italian population reports:

Many of our best American-born women are intensely interested in the Americanization of the foreigners. Yet they refuse to send their own children to schools where Italian or Portuguese children attend. If they happen to live in districts where these groups are large, they have their own children transferred to schools where the children are all of "their own kind." Others send their children to the State Teachers College Training School in order to keep them from contact with foreign youngsters.

In spite of their intellectual interest in the external mechanics of Americanization, such mothers are certain to transmit their attitudes to their children.


The neighborhood response to the foreigner is seen in the following comment of a man of French-Swiss background who had lived for over thirty years on the margin of an Italian district:

I don't like them. The "Wops" steal you blind. They steal everything they can lay their hands on that is loose. They do not want to be Americanized. They are dirty and have no neighborhood pride. They work their children instead of sending them to school. I believe the American capitalists are trying to reduce the laboring Americans to the same level of life as the "Dagoes" and the Japs.

Most of the older American families avoid, if they can, intimate contact with foreigners, and tend to move out of sections where the latter come to live. They keep their children from relations with the children of the foreigners, and out of these actions the children themselves rapidly acquire the parental ideas and attitudes.

While the school may break down some of the antagonism developed in the home and the neighborhood, it often accentuates it. Schools reflect the attitudes of the home and the neighborhood. Teachers are often of the older American stock, and they naturally share the attitudes and ideas of the parents of the American children. If the foreign child is backward in learning he is certain to be singled out for attention and even ridicule by the teachers and pupils. If an Italian or Polish lad appears in school with unclean hands and face, he is often reprimanded in the presence of the other children. Not infrequently the reprimand enhances nationality prejudices. "Nice American children do not have dirty hands and faces." The playground contacts of the children often foster antagonism. A teacher wrote:

Recently two girls had a fight on the playground. One called the other "a Wop." "I'll have you know I'm no Wop, you," the other retorted. Then they made for each other.

Aside from these extra-curricular contacts of children with each other, the school subjects often give direction to nationality prejudices. The anti-British tone of many American histories is notorious. Stories told of German atrocities during the World War period have definitely biased individuals who declare that even now they have difficulty in shaking off their prejudices. Many adult organizations interfere with the school cur-

(487) -riculum by their insistence on the teaching of those patriotic attitudes which create or stimulate prejudices against other nations.

Certainly Christian churches are not free from prejudice-building. In Sunday School classes and in sermons, pictures of the benighted heathen peoples are added to other images and stereotypes about other nations and races. Our missions are supported by a combination of piety and a sense of superiority over the non-Christian peoples.

3. European-American Prejudices.— It should be noted that, like the Japanese, the European has developed certain definite images of us which color his picture of America and give the basis for prejudices. Due to the motion pictures of Western life, to newspaper and periodical literature, and to conversational legends, one common image of America is that of an untamed country, peopled by gun-carrying cowboys and desperadoes, or filled with mobs that lynch negroes as their principal sport if not their major occupation. Then, too, the reputed greed of the American, and his curious spendthrift ways while he is in Europe, make two mutually contradictory pictures for the European. Contemporary European cartoons depict Uncle Sam, the stereotype for Americans in general, as a money-grabbing fellow chronically intent on picking other nations' pockets; and, on the other hand, as a foolish spendthrift on a holiday, the easy prey of exploitation. Political prejudice against us is usually added to this image. The political prejudice is the result of the European concept of our international policies, especially those toward Latin America. Political cartoons show perfidious Uncle Sam with one hand offering to all nations the olive branch of perpetual peace, and with the other hand reaching toward all the territory south of the United States. Of course there are corresponding American stereotypes of Europe which provide the ideational content for our attitudes of antagonism and avoidance. For many Americans, the French are immoral both in personal and international relations. Besides refusing to pay their national debts to us, they gouge American tourists at every turn. The Italians are ignorant and ridden by superstitions. The Germans, to many of us, are still the horrible people pictured for us by war-time propaganda. The Russian communists are uniformly a bad lot, out to wreck our pleasant capitalistic and political order. The British are not only dull in humor, but insatiably ambitious and inclined to hoodwink us in our disarmament proposals. The anti-British sentiment so prevalent in large numbers of people in the United States is fostered by the traditional history

(488) teaching of the schools, by propaganda of anti-British newspapers, by cartoons, and by other means. Since the British are so near to us in culture, in some ways the nationality prejudices are easily fed. Attempts on the part of Britishers and Americans to promote a genuine Anglo-American rapprochement are often viewed as another effort of perfidious Albion to regain control of this country.

In all of these cases political, economic, and even religious factors enter into the social attitudes built upon either side of the Atlantic. Out of these popular images are formed the prejudices which flare up in crises and furnish the drive toward war when relationships become too strained.

C. Religious Prejudices.

1. Jewish-Gentile Antagonisms: Prejudices for and against the Jew are economic as well as religious. Yet because of the popular Gentile conception of the Hebrew people as a distinct religious if not racial group, we shall discuss the Jewish-Gentile prejudice in this section.

The antagonistic attitudes toward the Jew are caused largely by the following factors-divergence in religious views, economic competition, political attitudes, and intellectual interests.

So long as the Jews came to our country in small numbers and served us as tailors or pawnbrokers, there was little prejudice of any kind against them. It was when their numbers increased and the divergences of their culture thereby became more noticeable, that the prejudice became serious. There is a long-standing religious antagonism between Christian and Jew. The Jew has definite myths and legends which have produced stereotypes of superiority. He is one of the "Chosen People." He is part of a community with long historical antecedents of which he may well be proud. But for the Christian the Jew is an inferior person— dirty, ill-smelling, and offensive if he is from the lower economic classes, or arrogant and ostentatious if he is from the middle classes. For the more orthodox Christian he is damned of God because he rejected the teaching of Jesus. He is even one of those who crucified Christ. Christian children are told the stories of the Jewish crucifixion of Christ. In Europe, particularly, even stranger stories are circulated of the horrible Jewish customs of sacrificing Christian children as a part of their religious rituals. In the autumn of 1928 this story spread about New York in connection with the disappearance of a child

(489) just before one of the important Jewish festivals. The myth that the child had been kidnapped to be sacrificed by the Jews was quickly formed. For a time the anti-Jewish feeling of the Christians and the immediate attitudes of defense among the Jews created a situation which seemed really menacing. Like other prejudices and myths, these stories do not circulate only where there is direct contact with their objects. One of the most interesting qualities of myths, legends, and prejudices is the fact that they thrive, sometimes even more luxuriously, where there is little or no direct contact with the people who are their objects.

Jewish religious practices, of course, diverge from those of Christianity; and whatever is different in social custom always arouses attention and tends to set up antagonisms. Hebraic dietary regulations, the unusual dates of Jewish religious holidays, and the strange dress of the older Jewish generation are simply wrong. At the very least, they are ridiculed by all good Christians.

A teacher in a large Middle Western city had the following experience with Hebrew children:

A real problem arises where school lunches are served to Jewish children, especially if they come from the poorer classes. I faced the difficulty of dealing with various food taboos. The question of meat was a constant bug-bear. Beef was permissible for them only if purchased from "the Jewish butcher." (It had to be blessed by their rabbi.) Because of the general educational red tape, it was difficult to make exceptions and to buy meat from the Hebrew shops. Pork about the place created a panic. Milk, in part, solved the problem. The dealer left three-quarters of a quart per child per day. The school nurse and dietician agreed that the children needed much butter, and since this was not to be had at their homes because of the expense, orders for a liberal supply were given. But on no account, according to Jewish diet taboos, could milk and butter be mixed, either at the table or in cooking. Oleomargarine might be used as a fat if it had the proper origin, but the head dietician prohibited its use in the schools. Various vegetable fats, such as Crisco and Snowdrift, were not acceptable to the Jews because they looked like lard. Mazola oil saved the day. It was comparatively easy to convince the children that it was made of corn, although they always wanted to think it was chicken grease, so cherished by a Jewish housewife.

The effort to be clean about the school kitchen was almost tragic in consequences. The mere mention of soap created an uprising, marked by emphatic choruses of "Honest to God, we dassent do it." Vegetable soaps were no more acceptable than .those made from animal fats. In desperation I sent for a box of

(489) Gold Dust powder. It didn't say on the box what its constituents were. I didn't know, nor did I want to. Its reaction upon the city water there created no suds, and it did cleanse. I had no desire to deceive the children, but it was my salvation.

Various holidays— of which there seemed to be no end— brought further difficulties. I always encouraged the Jewish children to observe these days with their families. During these periods the Hebrew children were restless. And the Scandinavian children, who were about equal in number, resented what they considered the special privileges of the Jews . . . .

Although I repeatedly tried to ascertain why the Jewish pupils were afraid to eat Gentile dishes, all one would ever say was, "Honest to God-I dassent do it." They seemed to fear some unseen, indescribable force that must do them harm did they not comply with the rituals. Some unmentionable terrible calamity would surely overcome them if they failed to abide by these dietary laws.

The Jews naturally resent the Christian's image of them. While today religious prejudice is hardly aggressive enough in America to provoke outbursts of violence, like the pogroms of Russia and Poland, Jewish feeling against Gentile notions sometimes runs high, as it did at the time of the alleged kidnapping mentioned above. Naturally the Jews wish to create a more favorable image of themselves in the minds of Christians. Hence they react against novels, legends, and artistic productions which they think unfair. The type of thing which sets up resentment is illustrated in the following dispatch from Boston under the headline:

Famous Painting, "The Synagogue," Spattered

Boston, February 22.— Chemical analysis of a black, ink-like material, spattered on John Singer Sargent's famous painting, "The Synagogue" on the walls of the Boston Public Library, has been ordered by the librarian. The police have been asked to trace the vandal.

The painting had been a storm center for more than two years. Objections to its presence in the public library are made by Jews who maintain that in its symbolic presentation of religion of old it is an insult to the Jewish race.

The legislature two years ago passed an act directing the state department of education to take the painting by right of eminent domain for use in the teaching of art in university extension work, but the department says it is impossible to do so. Hearings are again in progress on the question of removing "The Synagogue" from the library.[10]


The Jews feel that such misrepresentation of their religion is detrimental to their position in American life. It sets up negative responses in both groups and thus fosters a marked feeling of social distance.

Equally powerful in building up prejudices against the Jews are the stereotypes and myths about their economic practices. In a study of prejudice a number of Gentile students reported that in early childhood they acquired the notion that typically the Jew was a pawnbroker, pedler, or junk man. Thus one of their most powerful stereotypes was that Jews were "money-grabbers." Popular parlance has a verb "to Jew down," which is clearly an evidence of the power among us of this stereotype of sharp trading. This is another illustration of the fact that the stereotype intrudes itself into the more spontaneous personal-social interaction of individuals. That is to say, the Jew as a money-maker is the pattern into which every Jew is fitted, willy nilly. The ordinary Gentile, for example, knows little or nothing of the rich variety of types of Jews recognized by their own group. The individual differences among Jewish persons who have shaken off the rigidity of their former ritualism, quite escapes the usual Christian. For instance, in Elmer Rice's drama, Street Scene, Rose, a Gentile, is amazed to discover that her Jewish friend, Sam, knows nothing about Hebraic religious practices. It is a discovery for her to learn that not all Jews go to the synagogue.

It is just this interposition of an image or idea which constitutes the main problem of prejudice in social contacts. A man is first a negro, a Jew, a Catholic, a dago, and only subsequently Mr. Johnson, Mr. Aaronson, Mr. Murphy, or Mr. Giolotti. Extended into unique verbalisms or elaborate myths, these pictures form the apperceptive mass on which social intercourse is built.

The economic life of the Hebrew in our midst has its historical roots in the ghetto. The medieval Christians of continental Europe definitely restricted Jewish activities. The Jew as a business man served a definite social-economic purpose. For example, he was accorded certain rights to buy and sell on holy days, something the faithful Christian could not do. Thus the Jew served the community end increased his u\\ n wealth at the same time. So, too, in the Middle Ages he was permitted to take interest on loans, a practice denied to the Christians. On the other hand, in many countries he was forbidden to hold real property. This fact encouraged the growth of an ethos of a different character from that of the military land-

(492) -holding aristocracy and the peasantry. This ethos produced in the Jew a mobility not common among those deeply attached to the land, such as the age-long peasant peoples of Europe or Asia.

In the development of the modern capitalistic system the Jew has played a distinct role. Yet his business interests and methods are not essentially different from those of other people who attempt to make profits in their work. Accusing the Jew of being a money-grabber is most probably a defense reaction of the Gentile in the presence of competition. We tend to find in others what we find in ourselves. When we blame others for practicing what we ourselves practice, we may fairly suppose that our resentment is an ambivalent reaction to our own manners and morals.

The Hebrew is often accused of being anti-nationalistic. Some patriots accuse him of being an international, radical laborite; others, an international banker. In this connection it is interesting to note one aspect of the propaganda carried on against the Jew by the Ku Klux Klan. Much was made of the fact that some of the prominent Communists in Russia, Germany, and America were Jews. Good citizens of the country could want no better proof than this, that the Jews are attempting to control the world by spreading disaffection among the laboring classes, by making them class conscious, restless, full of subversive ideas, and skilled in the technique of revolution. But this was not all. The wily Jew is also fast obtaining control of the great international banks. Hence, unsuspecting Gentiles arc caught between two attacks, and with his usual craftiness, the Hebrew wins in either case. If the world becomes communistic, the Jews will be in control; if it continues to expand along capitalistic lines, the Jews will retain and increase their power over the rest of us. There is no escape from this deep Jewish plot to rule the world. Thus ran the arguments for the need to curb the expansion of Jewish activities.

The Jew is said to be a poor citizen, and his very internationalism is cited as evidence of it. Since he lacked citizenship in many European countries he has no background for cultivating political consciousness in our country. No doubt there is some correlation between current democratic political ideology and the ownership of land, the freedom of opportunity, and the feeling of responsibility for the maintenance of the state. In many countries, as we have noted, the Jew was denied ownership in land and political rights. Out of his strictly business life he developed a much more cosmopolitan point of view than his contemporary Gentiles. He has long

( 493) been a city-dweller, which means sophistication, mobility, and restlessness unknown to the more stolid rural population. This traditional background makes for some political restlessness, as shown by Jewish participation in radical movements or by his sympathy for international peace plans. In any case, his citizenship is thought to have a quality different from that of the Nordic Christian. As a matter of fact, any such divergence is due not to innate tendencies, but to circumstances of personal-social and cultural environment. The Jews vary in their radicalism or conservatism as do members of other groups. A label like "radical" or "conservative" applied to Jews as a group is as faulty as any such label applied to any other nationality, religious or political unit. But in out-group— in-group relations, generalization based on selected cases is always common.

Due to the great influence of their rabbinical learning, the intellectual tradition among the Hebrews has been strong. In Europe the intellectual professions offered the Jews a considerable outlet for their ability, though only within socially-accepted limits. Veblen pointed out the distinctive contributions which a long line of eminent Jewish scholars have made to European-American culture. Nevertheless, until quite recently, there has always been considerable pressure from the religious and political groups against the professional advancement of the Jews.

About the middle of the seventeenth century, when the city council of Halle in Würtemburg gave some privileges to a Jewish physician on account of his admirable experience and skill, "the clergy of the city joined in a protest, declaring that `it were better to die with Christ than to be cured by a Jew doctor aided by the devil.' " [11]

Except in certain special instances, the Jews did not play any great part in the early intellectual life of our country. [12] There were few Hebrews in the country prior to 1850. Since then their number has been increasing, and a great influx has occurred since 1890 The professional ambition of the Jew has made itself felt in the pressure which their increasing numbers have put upon the colleges. Apparently American colleges and universities first became aware of this social crisis about 1921. The Gentile Brahmin class which until then had held the gates of learning sacred for its own sons, began to discover that more and more Jews were crowding through

( 494) the college entrance examinations to seek higher education. The anti-Semitic feeling had earlier developed among Gentile college students themselves. For example, in 1907 a graduate student at an Eastern university had this experience:

As he came out of a class in government, J. noticed on the bulletin board an announcement of a debate between his college team and that of a neighboring institution. He mentioned the approaching debate to his friends and asked two or three of them if they intended to hear it. "Oh, no," one of them replied for the others, "in these days nobody goes out to those things. You see, the Jews have taken over the whole business, so that no one cares about it any more."

In increasing numbers the Jews were filtering into law, medicine, and teaching, and it was not long before the pressure of this competition began to be felt in these professions. This pressure had its repercussions on the colleges and universities. Students were limited in number, psychological tests and other devices were introduced at just this time; and though it is hard to prove it, many feel fairly sure that in these ways the college administrations very gracefully reduced the number of Jewish students in the larger and more aristocratic institutions.

The social pressure in the colleges continues. Where there is no limitation of numbers, as in publicly supported schools, discrimination by fraternities and various club activities is the principal form which the prejudice takes. Jewish young men and women are not admitted to Christian fraternities and sororities. They have their own, but they do not generally mingle with those of the Gentiles. Again this inevitably develops an antagonistic attitude among many Jewish students. The daughter of a New York City family of unusual social prestige expressed intense disgust and disappointment at the manner in which she and other Jewish women at a Middle Western university were treated socially. Gentile college men hesitate to be seen with Jewish girls because they fear the ridicule of their fraternity brothers or friends. A Gentile fraternity man recently remarked: "Yes, I went out with Z. F. once or twice. I didn't realize that she was Jewish." When he discovered this, he stopped seeing her. The social pat= terns are set by the Gentiles. The Jews are considered outside the pale of the most exclusive college sets. At one college the "Ginger Club" is an exclusive dancing club supported by Gentile fraternity groups. No Jews are

(495) admitted. While many Jews may and often do win academic prizes, the social life of the campus is divided by class lines. As one sorority girl put it, "the Jews are noisy, impolite, and smelly." She admitted that she knew but few Jews and none well. She had simply acquired the current stereotypes of her group and applied them to all Jews. Many Gentile students recognize the irrationality of this attitude, but they are afraid of the ridicule which would be heaped on them should they cut across social convention.

In the professions the competition is keen. The college world can furnish numerous examples of brilliant Jews who have been forced out of teaching and research work by social pressure. The Jew is felt to be forward, overcritical, and non-coöperative; and there is, of course, sometimes a factual basis for this feeling. The writer recently learned of this incident: A young Jewish instructor in a large university complained bitterly to an older professor, also a Jew, of the inferiority of the men in his own and another department where he had intended to pursue graduate work. The instructor had been on the campus only a few days and had hardly met the men of whom he complained. Even with tolerant Gentile faculty members this sort of thing tends to set up a stereotype against the Jew in general. It often happens that the possession of a Hebraic name will serve as a barrier in securing fellowships or teaching positions. Not infrequently Jews take over Christian family names in order to cover up their origin.

L. P., who had begun his scientific work about the time this country entered the World War, changed his name from one definitely Hebraic to one distinctly British. He then moved to another part of the country. Later he finished his graduate work, married a Gentile woman, and succeeded in his profession. Without doubt changing his name greatly aided him to make successful social adjustments.

This case may be contrasted with the one, cited in Chapter XIV, of the Jew who finally gave up teaching because of prejudice against him in college and university circles.

Although there are many Jews in the intellectual professions, the persistence of anti-Semitic prejudice shows the power of stereotypes in determining human relations even in the fields, like science, where men are supposed to be free of bias. One may be a great scientist in a special field

(496) and still be full of traditional conceptions about race, religion, and politics. The transfer of objectivity is very slight. [13]

In literature and the fine arts the Jew has contributed abundantly to our culture. Some of this creative productivity has centered around Hebrew culture itself, but much of it has the universal appeal of all great art. So too, the Jew has contributed much to our philosophy.

Continued anti-Semitic prejudice keeps many Jews from close contact with the Gentile world. In many instances Jewish artists have tried to assimilate themselves with Gentile culture, and in the end have given up the attempt. Meeting with harsh criticism and obvious avoidance, the Jew, like others labeled as "outsiders," has found his emotional balance once more by identifying himself with some Jewish group or movement. Such experiences keep up in-group— out-group attitudes and habits among Gentiles and Jews, and prevent the disappearance of unreasoned prejudice.

The degree of prejudice against the Jew in these four fields differs in various localities and situations. Its continuation is largely further evidence of the hangover of irrational attitudes and their continual rebuilding in terms of contemporary crises. In spite of propaganda, the bitterness again the Jew is not so intense in America as it is in Europe. Neither is the prejudice so serious as in negro-white relations. Nevertheless, its persistence indicates the inertia and conservatism of social habits and the ease with which we fall into stereotyped methods in retaining our social status.

2. Protestant-Catholic Prejudice. —  While Protestant-Catholic conflicts have not the violence they once had, they still persist in milder forms. Protestant children are brought up in a series of stereotypes, myths, and legends about the Catholics which markedly affect their attitudes and reactions to them. They hear stories of papal plots against the government of the United States. A writer in the Atlantic Monthly, told how these myths were kept alive in his youth. Pood Wamsley watched a Roman Catholic procession and later heard his father and other men discussing its whole meaning. Later Pood gave his playmates. a whispered harangue on the matter:

"Didja see them Cath'lic kids p'radin' yestiddy? Lissen!

"Ja know what they're doin'? Lissen! Ever' one of them is bein' trained to be soldiers when they grows up. That's what. them Cath'lics — is doin'. Soon's they

(497) git 'em all trained and they're growed up, they're goin' to seize the whole country and take charge of it an' ever'thing!"

"Howja know?" one of his aghast hearers inquired.

"I know," returned Pood, mysteriously. "There's certain people watchin' ever'thing they do, and when the time comes-" He broke off with a far-away, portentous look.

"How kin they do it?" some one asked.

"How kin they do it? Don't ja know that ever' time a baby boy is born III a Cath'lic family, they take and bury a gun under the church for him to use "hen he grows up? And they bury enough am'nition fer him to kill fifty people with!"

"Well, why's the marshall let 'em, then?"

"Huh! The marshall! Bob Mounts don't know nothin' that's goin' on!"

"Why n't somebody tell him?"

"The time ain't come yet. It's a comet' tho! Trouble is— the govinment. Can't expect to do nothin' while Cleveland's president. They say that, sekurtly, he's mebee a Cath'lic himself." [14]

Common Protestant stereotypes about Catholics are that they are "idol worshipers," that they "have no Bibles," that they are "inherently dishonest." Many otherwise tolerant and well-informed Jews and Protestants alike misunderstand the attitude of the Catholic Church toward modern science, and refuse to listen to Catholic expositions of the attitude of the Church.

These stereotypes do not necessarily arise among Protestants only in strongly Catholic neighborhoods. Nothing could be more intense than the anti-Catholic prejudices of many rural communities in the South, where there is hardly a single Catholic family in a whole county. The writer found this distressing conflict in a family which lives in an almost exclusively Protestant village. The father is Protestant, the wife and her mother are Catholic. The father persists in openly telling his children shocking stories about Catholics, and not less openly he points to their maternal grandmother as a member of the church which promotes these shocking practices. He of course is, not too indirectly, striking at his wife also for being a Catholic. He is producing disastrous inner conflicts in his children by causing them to side with him against their mother, and at the same time he is, of course, creating in them distinct attitudes toward Catholics as a group. In another instance, a father of liberal views who has given his family no formal sectarian training, and who prides himself on keeping his

( 498) children free of religious prepossession, was quite chagrined to find that his ten-year-old daughter had acquired certain notions that the Catholics were "bad," that "they worshiped idols," and had various other evil practices. The youngster had spent a summer with a Protestant aunt who had piously told her weird anti-Catholic tales. Though the child had earlier played with Catholic children, she had never particularly singled them out as being at all different. Now she had definitely antagonistic images which disturbed her relations with all Catholics.

In sections of the country where political and economic competition operates between groups having Protestant or Catholic affiliations, there are prejudices on both sides. The Ku Klux Klan spread a great deal of propaganda among Protestants about Catholic plots to control the government. "The Catholics control the army because most of the officers are Catholics"; "The Pope plots to seat a Catholic in the Presidency," and so on. Historical legends serve as a background in these contemporary feelings and attitudes. The whole tradition of the Protestant revolt against the papacy has been carried down to the present time. It has become a part of the mental-emotional freight of the average Protestant.

Quite naturally, Catholics have many stereotyped prejudices about the Protestants: They have fallen away from the true faith; they will not be saved hereafter; they possess no true church or true priesthood armed with divine authority; born in heresy, they develop worse heresies as they go; some of them actually tolerate divorce and even the conscious limitation of the number of children born in their families. Just as Gentiles frequently talk as if a Jew of today had personally assisted at the crucifixion of Jesus, so Catholics talk as if Protestants today had personally conspired with Luther and Calvin against the unity of the Mother Church. A child born in a Protestant family finds Protestantism quite as "natural" as a Jew finds his Judaism or a Catholic finds his Catholicism; but it is a Catholic stereotype to refuse to recognize this simple fact. Mr. F. P. O'Malley gives amusing examples of Irish Catholic stereotypes directed against Protestants in "American Sons of th' Ould Sod," in the American Mercury for September, 1929. Many perfectly honest Catholics, who probably have well-behaved liberal Protestants as neighbors, seem heartily convinced that the liberal wing of Protestantism menaces civilization itself. The attachment of liberal Protestants to modern science is notorious; the occasional change in scientific theories is also notorious. Apparently it is a Catholic stereotype

( 499) to point to these shifts as an evidence of the complete unreliability of scientific theory in comparison with the assumed unchanging character of dogma. Obviously the fact that the first chapter in Genesis does not change is small proof that it is a better account of the origin of man than a modification of any particular theory of evolution.

In both Catholic and Protestant stereotypes we should note the tacit implication of the superiority of the in-group over the out-group. Each group has stereotypes attributing to itself the socially essential virtue of loyalty; the attitude is identical, but its object is the Church for the Catholic and the Bible for the Protestant. The notion of Christian suffering for the truth is the same for both; but the Catholic remembers English persecution of Irish Catholics and the Protestant remembers St. Bartholomew's Day. Thus the ego of the individual Catholic expands in its association with a historic social group of such obviously unique virtue and thus also does the ego of the individual Protestant expand and receive sanction.

The presidential campaign of 1928 is an excellent example of how religious prejudices may be revived and exaggerated when occasion demands. The propaganda carried on against Governor Smith during the summer and autumn of that year stirred up old prejudices and added new details to the tradition of a "Catholic menace." Adherents of Governor Smith, in turn, responded quite in the manner of their opponents. Old prejudices were phrased in new terms. We have no technique to discover how much the campaign actually altered the fundamentals of the prejudices. Possibly it merely made them more explicit in action. Without the development of critical attitudes only with difficulty can adults be greatly changed in their basic prejudices. At best, these changes seem always confined to minorities, no matter what the country or the creed of the individuals.

D. Prejudice among Economic Groups.

In discussing the interplay of economic groups in Chapter XIV we pointed out the development of antagonistic attitudes in the various groups. The prejudices which the laboring man feels fur the rich employer arc determined for him by historical legends and by the in-group— out-group conflict. The prejudices, myths, and legends among organized union men have a long history growing out of the intermittent controversy with their employers. The prejudices of the unorganized, common, and semi-

(500) -skilled laborers have their roots in more general myths of the hard-fisted rich man, and in vague and inarticulate resentment at low pay, poor working conditions, and irregular employment. The capitalist-employer is blamed for every kind of economic hardship. A student reports a conversation with a transient laborer who was hitch-hiking from place to place in search of work:

We passed a large railroad gang and the man called my attention to the fact that all the laborers were Mexicans. He said he couldn't even get a job at that kind of work because the railroad company had found "white men" dissatisfied with the low wages which the Mexicans accepted. The company had ruled "to hire no more whites." He blamed our laws and the millionaires for importation of the Mexicans. His prejudice seemed to have an almost purely economic basis. He thought that the white employers in agriculture in California who a few years ago had been proud of the faithful service which they had received at low wage rates from "the little brown brother" were "getting what was coming to them" now that the Japanese were giving them sharp competition themselves.

The employers, in turn, have their biases against the laboring classes. We saw in our previous discussion how frequently they blamed all sorts of industrial difficulties on the daily worker. These prejudices have certain historical patterns created in the relations of capital and labor since the rise of the modern industrial system. Aside from the conflict between employers and employees, economic factors play a decided role in all forms of contemporary prejudice. Much of what passes for race or color prejudice is basically economic. The fear of losing economic position is often rationalized in terms of racial, nationality, or religious prejudices. This fact confirms Park's definition of prejudice as a form of defense reaction against loss of status.

In the history of Catholic-Protestant prejudices, economic factors have played a part. In the sixteenth century people of northern-Europe grew restless under the monetary drain put upon them in the selling of indulgences, and in the paying of tithes and dues demanded by the Church at Rome. Myths and legends were current in Luther's day describing the extravagance and luxurv of the papal court bought at the cost of the hardships of faithful Catholics in northern Europe. The intimate relation of the Protestant Revolt and the rise of modern capitalism is another evidence of the close alliance of certain theological views and, economic practices. It is only natural that some phases of this alliance should find their way into

(501) the common prejudices of members of the two groups. To many thrifty hard-working Protestants the leisurely, easy-going life of the South European or Latin American Catholics furnishes a basis for both religious and economic prejudice. The Catholic not only worships false gods in a too highly ritualistic manner, but he is also immoral because he lacks our thriftiness, our steady industrial habits, and our faith in the capitalistic order.

In brief, myths, legends, and prejudices all together constitute certain aspects of our internal stimuli, or our subjective, anticipatory patterns which determine the nature of our social reality. As we have indicated, this reality is largely symbolic, and largely composed of language and visual images. The names that we apply to the groups against which we are prejudiced are the counters which we use in dealing with the individual members of the groups. They stabilize and define our social reactions.

Our prejudices are distinctly related to our techniques of maintaining social status. In times of severe conflict we may retain our status by force. But ordinarily we retain it by those words and legends which indicate our superiority. These words and legends give us as individuals a place in the social world secure from the inroads of members of other racial, political, religious, or economic groups.


A. Further Reading: Source Book for Social Psychology, Chapter XIX, Section B, pp. 528-38.

B. Questions and Exercises.

1. Discuss questions and exercises for assignment in Source Book, Chapter XIX, nos. 10, 13-15, p. 539.

2. What are the principal factors which produce White-Oriental prejudice?

3. What is the psychology of One Hundred Percent Americanism? Why does each succeeding group of immigrants provoke prejudice in the older American Population?

4. What conditions in American life tend to allay Gentile-Jewish prejudices? What conditions foster it? Illustrate by citing cases.

5. What conditions are favorable to the continuation of Protestant-Catholic prejudices in our country? What conditions are decreasing it? Illustrate by citing cases.


6. What conditions are exaggerating anti-American sentiment in Europe? What conditions are cutting it down?

C. Topics for Class Reports and Longer Written Papers.

1. See appropriate assignments for reports and longer papers in Source Book, Chapter XIX, p. 539

2. Report on G. B. Watson, "The Measurement of Fair-Mindedness," Teachers College Contribution to Education, 1925, no. 176.

3. The Development of anti-American Prejudice in the Orient.

4. Report on Young, "Psychology of Oriental-Occidental Prejudice," publications of Institute of Pacific Relations, 1929.

5. Trace the development of techniques for restricting Jewish enrollment in our privately-endowed colleges and universities.

6. Report Lasker, Race Attitudes in Children (appropriate sections).

7. Report Veblen, "Intellectual Pre-eminence of Jews in Modern Europe," Political Science Quarterly, 1919, vol. XXXIV, pp. 33-42.

8. Report L. Wirth, The Ghetto as a social-psychological study of Jewish backgrounds.



  1. From Portland Oregonian, February 5, 1922.
  2. Dispatch in New York Evening Post, June 23, 1923.
  3. In Chapter XXVII we shall deal with the effects of deliberate propaganda in fostering prejudices during the World War.
  4. The Hindoo nationalism fostered by Ghandi and his followers in India is an interesting case of a non-resistant expression of antagonism. In the Euro-American culture, passive non-violent coercion k not common. Prejudices and violent reactions mark in-groups—out-group relations, at least in crises. With the Hindoo nationalist group led by Ghandi the whole technique is different. In fact, it is so divergent from the Occidental pattern that the British are at a loss to know how to deal with it. If only the Ghandi followers would fight back, then the resistance could be attacked by military force. Non-violence is a method of opposition with which the West is unfamiliar. Cf. however, C. M. Case, Non-violent Coercion, 1923.
  5. Quoted by K. Young, "Baiting the Alien: An Old Habit," Nation, 1925, Vol. CXX, p. 710.
  6. Ibid., p. 710
  7. Ibid., p. 710
  8. Editorial, Western American, Feb. 28, 1924.
  9. Editorial, Ibid., April 11, 1924.
  10. From Eugene Register (Oregon), February 24, 1924.
  11. Morse, "Psychology of Prejudice," International Journal of Ethics, 1907, vol. XVII, p. 500.
  12. They had some place in early political activities, however.
  13. Cf. K. Young, "The Need of Integration of Attitudes among Scientists," Scientific Monthly, 1924, vol. XVIII, pp. 291-305, for a discussion of the wider reaches of this matter.
  14. L. Mellett, "Klan and Church," Atlantic Monthly, 1923, vol. CXXXII, p. 587.

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