2. According to Cooley, every faculty member that met Sapir was impressed and enthusiastic. Cooley believed there was “something fresh and ardent about [Sapir] that is quite appealing. He is a man of notable literary and philosophic culture, as well as scientific” (Cooley to Burton, October 13, 1923). Burton responded to Cooley three days later, writing that, “I think it is highly important for us to provide for foregoing scientific work in the field of anthropology.” Extra money was set aside for Sapir, but he was never hired. Cooley’s glowing letter about Sapir noted that he was “of Jewish origin and there is supposed to be some prejudice in this direction.” Burton also noted Sapir’s “Jewish origins” in a letter to John Effinger. In response, Effinger and later Burton wrote that there were several “questions” that needed to be resolved—the obvious illusion here was to the fact Sapir was Jewish. Burton wrote, “I assume that you will proceed to make further inquiries if you desire to do so. I also feel strongly inclined to call your attention to the fact that Professor Cooley has alluded to one aspect of this situation which it seems to me, in view of the total situation here, deserves consideration” (Burton to Effinger, October 16, 1923). Anti-Semitism in academics circa 1923 was hardly unusual. The University of Michigan was more inclusive than many other universities but hardly free of prejudice. Jewish faculty members chaired the Departments of English (Louis Strauss), Romance Languages (Mordecai Levy), and Economics (Leo Sharfman). This did not mean anti-Semitism was absent. For instance, the Michigan Law School accepted 15 million dollars from William W. Cook, a blatant anti-Semite and avowed white supremacist. According to David Hollinger, Cook’s extreme views were marginalized on campus. Hollinger notes that U of M Dean William Haber was convinced that anti-Semitism was not as prevalent as anti-communism and anti-radicalism.
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