The Jewish Cold War: Anxiety and Identity in the Aftermath of the Holocaust
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Each year the David W. Belin Lectureship in American Jewish Affairs provides an academic forum for discussion of contemporary Jewish life in the United States. It was established in 1991 through a generous gift from the late David W. Belin of Des Moines and New York. Mr. Belin, a three-time graduate of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts; the Business School; and the Law School of the University of Michigan; had a distinguished career in law and public service. An exemplary public servant, he served as counsel to the Warren Commission, which investigated President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, and was executive director to the Rockefeller Commission, which investigated CIA activities within the United States. In both of these positions he contributed significantly to the pursuit of justice. David Belin did not confine his activities to American law and politics. In addition, he served the American Jewish community in numerous leadership roles. Most importantly, he initiated, helped to establish, and was founding Chairman of Reform Judaism’s Outreach Commission, which deals with intermarriage and conversion. He also participated as a founding member of the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, which recognizes the actions of Christians and others in saving Jews during the Holocaust and provides financial support for them. This multifaceted service reflected his concern for the future of American Jewry and stimulated him to endow this annual lectureship to provide an enduring forum for discussion of key issues confronting Jews in the United States since the end of World War II. Each annual David W. Belin Lecture in American Jewish Affairs has consistently enhanced understanding of American Jewish culture and society.
Susan A. Glenn continues this well-established tradition and joins a distinguished roster of eminent Belin lecturers. She is professor of history and faculty affiliate in the Jewish Studies program in the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. Professor Glenn earned her PhD in history at the University of California in Berkeley, and received her MA from the University of California in San Diego. Her scholarship and teaching have focused on twentieth century US cultural, intellectual, and social history, with a particular emphasis on Jewish identity. In all of her work, she has taken topics and uncovered their unexpected dimensions through her original research. Thus, for example, her first book, which appeared in 1991, looked at Jewish immigrant women. But Susan Glenn’s investigation focused on a very specific subset of those women, namely young unmarried “girls” as they were then called, who came to the United States with their own dreams of freedom and ended up working in the garment industry. Her book, the award-winning Daughters of the Shtetl: Life and Labor in the Immigrant Generation, radically changed our understanding of the culture and politics of young Jewish immigrant women in the early twentieth century. It allowed us to see these women as activists and dreamers, as pragmatic organizers and as committed family members. Glenn illuminated the politics of union organizing and socialist activism through her gendered focus. She also told a transnational story at a time when many historians of immigration paid scant attention to the history of life in the old country.
Susan Glenn continued this special ability to elucidate complex historical questions in her second book, Female Spectacle: The Theatrical Roots of Modern Feminism, published in 2000. Here she focused on women in the theater, including several Jewish performers, and revealed how these figures through their lives on stage actually influenced the emerging character of modern feminism in the first decades of the twentieth century. These bold performers created alluring images of themselves that ignored conventional portraits of women in favor of a new vision emphasizing personal independence and sexual expression. In this case, the roles of Jewish women—including such actresses as Sarah Bernhardt—while significant, did not occupy center stage. Yet if all the world’s a stage, Glenn demonstrated persuasively how the stage itself could shape the world, as the historian Lizabeth Cohen observed.
This rich body of scholarship has been recognized in many ways. Professor Glenn’s research has received support through fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Royalty Research Fund, and the Simpson Center for the Humanities. She has twice been appointed as Distinguished Lecturer by the Organization of Historians and served a three-year term as the Howard and Frances Keller Endowed Professor in the Department of History at the University of Washington. Since 2000, she has served as a member of the Academic Council of the American Jewish Historical Society.
Most recently, Susan Glenn has collaborated with Naomi B. Sokoloff in co-editing a provocative interdisciplinary collection, Boundaries of Jewish Identity, that explores debates about who or what is Jewish. In this volume, which appeared in 2010, the authors of the articles probe how Jewishness is defined and contextualized, made and unmade, enforced and challenged. Articles examine intermarriage in the twentieth century, the burgeoning fascination with genetics and their relationship to Jewish identity, questions of citizenship and legal status of Jews and others in Israel, as well as Jewish literary types in fiction, hidden Jews in the American Southwest, and conversion in contemporary Russia. Her own contribution, “Funny, You Don’t Look Jewish,” analyzes visual stereotypes and the making of modern Jewish identity. Thus Susan Glenn brings to consciousness questions of public perceptions of Jewishness, especially in the mid-twentieth century.
Glenn’s Belin lecture extends this research project on modern Jewish identity, especially in the postwar period. Her interest in unearthing often caustic debates among intellectuals helps us comprehend just how fraught were the stakes in defining Jewish identity. Even as those early postwar years acquire a patina of nostalgia from the perspective of the twenty-first century, Glenn’s invigorating scholarship reminds us of not easily resolved issues facing American Jews. Her work helps us to comprehend and contextualize current, equally bitter debates among Jews, by limning the contours of a struggle that has yet to end over who gets to decide what is Jewish in the modern world.
Deborah Dash Moore
Frederick G. L. Huetwell Professor of History
Director, Jean & Samuel Frankel Center for Judaic Studies
In a 1953 article published in the journal Phylon, the famous sociologist David Riesman, author of The Lonely Crowd, a best-selling book on the problem of American conformity, described what he called “a very savage fight” taking place at a Jewish hospital then under construction on Long Island. At that time, the standard for many Jewish hospitals was to have a small kosher kitchen and a larger non-kosher kitchen for the general Jewish and non-Jewish patient populations. In this case, a group of rabbis and Orthodox Jewish businessmen were demanding that the new hospital serve kosher food exclusively.
For Riesman, son of a prominent Philadelphia physician, the principle at stake in this “savage fight” was not what kind of food patients should be served, but rather what he saw as the pernicious politics of identity enforcement. In Riesman’s view, Jewish doctors were not only being forced to take sides; they were being forced, in his words, to decide “whether they are physicians and efficient hospital administrators or policemen for a kind of ‘Israeli’ extraterritoriality.” He argued that if doctors acceded to Orthodox demands for a single kosher kitchen, they would be consenting to define their careers “in terms of an ethnic label.” But if they asserted their moral independence by refusing to side with the Orthodox, they would be “vulnerable to Jewish propaganda” that would play on their ethnic “guilt” over “betrayal” of their group. In Riesman’s view, the Holocaust had created the preconditions for this kind of emotional blackmail. “If Hitler had not attacked and exterminated Jews, the physicians in the Long Island hospital would find it easier to resist fanatic politicians; they could seek their own individual identities among the plurality of possibilities available to them.”
What are we to make of David Riesman’s hyperbolic attack on allegedly “fanatic” Jewish “politicians”—his derisive reference to Orthodox community leaders who used the lever of the Holocaust to engineer cultural conformity? Although some writers have described the period after 1945 as a “time for healing” and a “golden decade” for Jews characterized by “the emergence of a collective self-confidence and sense of well-being,” the anxious—and frequently rancorous—Jewish public discourse of this period points to a more complicated way of understanding the postwar era. It is true that, if one looks at the growth of religious institutions that sprang up on the new suburban frontier of Jewish postwar life, the fact that overt forms of antisemitism became less socially respectable than in any previous period of American history, and the general trend of upward economic mobility among Jews and other Americans, the postwar era looked relatively more golden than what came before. But in other respects the late 1940s and 1950s were a contentious time for Jews. The “Jewish Cold War” is the term I use to rethink the question of what this period meant for American Jewish life. The term emphasizes the larger point I want to make in this essay: that the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union had both global and domestic manifestations that disrupted the internal politics of American Jewish life. It did so in two ways. First, it led to the censure and isolation of Jewish Communists. Second, the rejection of Stalinism and totalitarianism by liberal Jewish intellectuals triggered a complex debate about postwar pressures for Jewish group loyalty and conformity.
In what follows, I will argue that the postwar decade constitutes an important and distinctive period in the long history of disputation among Jews. Clearly, disputation remains alive and well in Jewish communal life. Today’s disputes revolve about the boundaries of Jewish identity—who and what is Jewish—and fierce debates about Israeli policies. Yet what American Jews argue about and the terms in which those arguments are mounted is an ever-changing product of historical forces. In other words, disputation may be a Jewish cultural habit, but it is a habit that responds to, mobilizes, and refracts the pressing social, intellectual, and political developments of a given time period.
The episode of Jewish disputation that I will focus on is a case in point. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, three key historical contingencies shaped Jewish public debate. The first was the difficulty in coming to terms with the shocking revelations of the Holocaust. The second was Zionist agitation for and the establishment of the state of Israel. Both of these changed the stakes for American Jews by placing renewed focus on Jewish identity, Jewish “survival,” and the Jewish future. The third was the Cold War—the fear of Communist domination and the accompanying rise of the US national security state—which changed the political stakes for all Americans. As we will see, these three contingencies profoundly affected the terms of Jewish disputation.
I begin with what is perhaps the more familiar source of tension among Jews in the Cold War era: the question of whether there was any place for Communists in American Jewish life. This was the era of the Federal Loyalty Review Board, the House Committee on Un-American Activities, the Senate Internal Security Sub-Committee, Senator Joseph McCarthy’s Permanent Sub-Committee on Government Operations, and various state and local initiatives all aiming to rid American life of Communist influences. Outside of government, the presidents of universities and school boards, and movie and television studios, unions and professional guilds, and many other figures, including the heads of the major Jewish organizations, all tried to prove that they were not “soft” on Communism by firing and/or blacklisting both Communists and Communist sympathizers, known in the parlance of the day as “fellow travelers.”
By the early 1950s, mainstream Jewish defense organizations had defined opposition to Communism as a requirement of Jewish communal membership. Thus, precisely at the time when Jewish organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, and the American Jewish Congress were deeply engaged in efforts to combat anti-Jewish discrimination in housing, employment, and education, they found it equally necessary to combat the “Jew-as-Communist” stereotype by “demonstrating the anti-Communist credentials of American Jewry.” Although only a small minority of Jews in the United States actually belonged to the Communist Party, historically Jews were well represented in left-wing organizations. In addition, the most spectacular atomic spy case of this period—the 1951 trial and 1953 execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for passing atomic secrets to the Soviet Union—placed Jewish organizations on the defensive. As a consequence, the major Jewish organizations not only gave their full cooperation to the FBI and other agencies of the domestic security apparatus, they purged known Jewish Communists from their own membership rolls.
A second source of Cold War upheaval among Jews grew out of internal battles over Jewish identity. Paralleling and drawing rhetorical ammunition from the anti-Communist and anti-totalitarian politics of the era, these intra-Jewish identity debates produced a contentious and divisive war of words about questions of Jewish group loyalty, Jewish group “survival,” and Jewish nationalism, reflecting and mobilizing deep ideological disagreements about what could and could not be said by and about Jews, who had a right to speak for and as Jews, and above all, whether individual definitions of Jewish identity, including expressions of ambivalence or uncertainty, could be tolerated in the Jewish community.
What had produced this Jewish war of words? Simply put: the Holocaust. The war of words was driven by post-Holocaust anxiety about the loss of six million European Jews and the future survival of a distinctive Jewish community in the United States. Although concern about the Jewish future antedated the Holocaust, observed Trude Weiss-Rosmarin, editor of the Orthodox and pro-Zionist publication, The Jewish Spectator, the physical loss of almost 40 percent of the world’s Jews made the terms Jewish “survival” and “Jewish survivalism” into common “household words.” A key issue in the immediate postwar era was what she and other Jewish leaders perceived as the fragile psychological state of American Jewry. “To be a Jew in a non-Jewish world has always been and will continue to be a handicap in more ways than one,” wrote Weiss-Rosmarin. “The positive side and worthwhileness of being a Jew will therefore have to be stressed and bolstered by props beyond the sullying reach of the Jew hater.”
In the postwar era, Jewish community experts of all kinds were convinced that the antisemitic environment of the 1930s and 1940s had produced in many American Jews ambivalent or highly negative feelings about being Jewish, and they insisted that something needed to be done to keep Jews within the fold. As political scientist Nathan A. Pelcovitz put it in 1947, “judging from the common testimony of rabbis and novelists, of sociological surveys and table talk,” Jewish self-contempt was “the neurosis” of the wartime generation. “That many Jews who reached intellectual maturity in the age of Hitler reject and despise the fact of their Jewishness is a family secret we can no longer keep either from the children or the neighbors.” The experts all agreed that the problem had reached “epidemic proportions.”
A key symbol of this so-called “neurosis” about Jewish identity was the haunting image of the German Jew with his misplaced faith in assimilation. Writer and political analyst David Bernstein wrote in a 1948 article in Commentary magazine that “overly emotional” Jewish leaders in the United States tended to distort the “realities” of American Jewish life by making constant reference to the fate of Germany’s assimilated Jews. Although “the history, the culture, the mythology, the ideals of America and Germany are so different as to be almost beyond comparison,” wrote Bernstein, “the Jewish failure in Germany” had become the new measure for the dangers of assimilation in postwar America. “In the minds of most American Jews,” he observed, “the term ‘assimilation’ had come to symbolize a hypocritical flight from Jewishness, generally including conversion to Christianity, changing one’s name, denying or at least hiding the fact that one is Jewish. And the Jews of Germany are recalled as the most shameful example of this kind of ‘assimilation’ with the ironic recollection of what happened to them when Hitler achieved power.”
The idea that the fate of Germany’s Jews provided an object lesson for the Jews of the United States owed much to the influential writings of German Jewish émigré social psychologist Kurt Lewin. A former faculty member of the Psychological Institute at the University of Berlin, Lewin had fled to the United States in 1935 and reestablished himself as a leader in the postwar liberal intergroup relations movement. His essays on Jewish identity conflict became the cornerstone of a movement for what he called “positive Jewishness”—a movement that dominated programs of American Jewish secular community and religious institutions in the aftermath of World War II.
By the time of his death in 1947, Lewin was widely recognized as one of the leading theorists of minority group self-esteem in the United States and was responsible for helping to bring the notion of “Jewish self-hatred” into the mainstream of American postwar social science and social thought. The canonical text was his much-cited and frequently quoted essay “Self-Hatred Among Jews.” Originally published in 1941 and reprinted in 1948 in a posthumous collection of his social scientific writings, “Self-Hatred Among Jews” turned what Lewin called the personal “shame” that antisemitism had instilled in “the lives of whole generations of Jews” in Germany into a cautionary tale for American Jews. Lewin believed that like the Jews of prewar Germany, American Jews suffered from “negative chauvinism”—an aversion to Jewish group membership—that bred many “varieties” of Jewish self-hatred. This self-hatred was not only internalized, Lewin argued: it “may be directed against Jewish institutions, Jewish mannerisms, Jewish language, or Jewish ideals.”
According to Lewin, the prototypical self-hating Jew was a “marginal man,” a person who stands at the border between two groups, “being neither here nor there.” A Jew of this type, Lewin concluded, “will dislike everything specifically Jewish, for he will see in it that which keeps him away from the [non-Jewish] majority for which he is longing. He will show dislike for those Jews who are outspokenly so and will frequently indulge in self-hatred.” Rather than venting frustration at the rejecting society of non-Jews, Lewin argued, the Jewish marginal man turned the hostility upon himself and other Jews. Perhaps Lewin’s most surprising claim was the idea that some Jewish leaders manifested the most profound psychological symptoms of marginality. Under the “thin cover of loyalty” to the Jewish minority, these “leaders from the periphery,” as he called them, secretly desired to “leave the Jewish group.”
Kurt Lewin supported the Zionist project and believed that a Jewish state would grant all Jews a larger feeling of security and group pride, but his primary concern was helping American Jews find a firmer psychological footing in the United States. And he believed that recent experiences in Germany indicated that if Jews were to become fully equal members of American society, they must first establish a sense of Jewish group “belongingness” based on the concept of interdependency. What he meant was that the status of each individual Jew was tied to the fate of all Jews. And thus each individual had to be willing to “accept active responsibility and sacrifice for the group.” To accomplish this, he argued, Jewish parents and community leaders needed to help build a “clear” and “positive” sense of “Jewishness” that would minimize what he called “the ambiguity” of Jewish identity. According to Lewin, it was not a return to the traditions of religion, but rather the development of group “loyalty” and “belongingness” that must constitute the basis for a “positive” Jewish identity in the United States.
These ideas found a very receptive audience in a post-Holocaust world in which the survival of a unique Jewish culture in the United States seemed to many observers to be imperiled by the problem of Jewish self-consciousness and self-hatred. And Lewin’s theories became the cornerstone of a massive secular educational and religious campaign to build Jewish pride and Jewish self-respect in the United States and to promote what one advocate called “stronger Jewish personalities...that can resist infection by the anti-Semitic virus.” As one Jewish community worker explained in 1949, the goal was to cultivate in young people an “identification” with the “totality” of Jewish values, a goal that required “programming for Jewish living.” However, if Lewin himself had argued for a “balanced” approach to Jewish identity, one that recognized some degree of ambivalence as normal, some Jewish community leaders would extend Lewin’s theories to mean that “if a small dose of [Jewish] identification is good for a person, a larger dose will be still better.”
Although the campaign for positive Jewishness was largely a secular initiative carried out by community professionals, Jewish center workers, and mental health experts, religious leaders also played a part. Rabbi Milton Steinberg, influential head of the Park Avenue Synagogue in New York City and a leader in the Jewish Reconstructionist movement founded by theologian Mordecai Kaplan, argued that without a strong sense of “self-acceptance,” the “survival” of a distinctive Jewish culture in America could not be guaranteed. Reversing Lewin’s claim that religion could not become the basis of group regeneration, Steinberg asserted that the answer to the problem of Jewish “self-contempt” was “not less Judaism but more.” Trude Weiss-Rosmarin made a related claim in her 1947 “Manifesto of Jewish Survivalism.” There, she argued that the only way to create a feeling of “worthwhileness” that offset the feelings of “alienated sons and daughters [who] are even more vociferous than strangers in attacking and defaming” Jewry was through “an all-out campaign of enlightenment about the rationale of Judaism” that entailed “recruiting every Jewish child for attendance at a Jewish school” and teaching adults “the facts of Judaism.”
The secular and religious proponents of total commitment to Jewish values stood on one side of the Jewish Cold War divide. On the other side of the divide were the liberal intellectual defenders of Jewish ambivalence and ambiguity. The reaction of some liberal intellectuals both to the secular and religious movements for positive Jewishness and the growth of Jewish nationalism fueled a Jewish war of words over questions of identity. At the center of this particular storm stood David Riesman and other writers, critics, and scholars often called “The New York Intellectuals.”
This small but extremely influential cohort of secular thinkers—not all of them New Yorkers—approached the entire question of Jewish identity not as a given, but as “an intellectual problem” to be seriously debated and analyzed. These intellectuals were anti-Communist liberals and socialists, some of them former Communists, who denounced all kinds of orthodoxies: religious, ethnic, political, social, intellectual, and artistic. Their concern first and foremost was the principle of critical detachment and the sanctity of individual self-expression. Their stance reflected their staunch opposition to what they called “totalitarian” or totalistic philosophies that required individuals to substitute “blind faith” for “critical reasoning” and independent “judgment.” They drew parallels between fascist and Communist forms of “totalitarianism,” seeing in both a “consuming fear of political and intellectual freedom.” They distinguished between their own brand of allegedly “responsible” anti-Communism and the smear tactics of Joseph McCarthy and his hard-right followers who frequently lumped intellectuals and New Deal liberals together with Communists.
Commentary magazine provided an important outlet for their views. Founded in 1945, and underwritten by the American Jewish Committee, Commentary was known for its opposition to ideological extremism on both the left and the right, and for its willingness to publish controversial material on Jewish issues. As Commentary editor Elliot Cohen put it in 1949, while the Jewish “community” urged “restraint” on the “free and lively exchange of ideas” as well as “self-imposed censorship on honest recording of Jewish experience for fear that the goyim [would] hear and ‘use it against us,’” Commentary championed the right of Jewish intellectuals to engage in “decent” Jewish “self-criticism.”
In Commentary and other outlets of contemporary opinion, the New York Intellectuals openly expressed uncertainty about the meaning of their own Jewish identity and demanded individual rather than collective definitions of Jewishness. For that reason and others, writers for Commentary who were equally suspicious of uncritical and hyperbolic forms of American and Jewish nationalism endured periodic attacks by Jewish nationalists. As one unfriendly critic later characterized it: “Commentary is consistently brilliant, but consistently too, a refuge for Jewish literati who enjoy bleeding in public, in dramatic and ostentatious displays of the wounds joyfully sustained in their well-advertised flight from Jews and Judaism.”
Rabbi Milton Steinberg characterized the magazine as “deficient in that ultimate love of Judaism without which no Jewish enterprise can be other than morally bankrupt,” and criticized it for projecting “an air of condescension and superciliousness toward matters Jewish, including historic Jewish sanctities,” and “of offensiveness toward Jewish sensibilities.” Although Commentary “does not always sneer at Judaism and Jewish life in America,” added Steinberg, “it does so often enough to make the expression fairly typical of its cast of countenance.” He asked rhetorically: “What are non-Jews to think of us, how can they regard us with respect, after the spectacles of Jewish cynicism, irreligion, spiritual vacuity, and self-contempt which this magazine stages from time to time?” Writer Ludwig Lewisohn, who edited the journal New Palestine and lectured tirelessly on behalf of the Zionist Organization of America, went further than most when he described the “hopeless illiterate young men who perform in Commentary,” as harbingers of Jewish “moral suicide” and “ethnic self-liquidation.”
Commentary’s unfortunate status as a promoter of apostasy reflected the view of some critics that while the magazine was not really anti-Zionist, neither did it display what some considered sufficiently “pro-Zionist” sentiments. In the mid-1940s Commentary editor Elliot Cohen had been part of a coterie of Jewish dissident intellectuals—among them Erich Fromm, David Riesman, and Hannah Arendt—who rallied around Reform Rabbi Judah Magnes, founder of the Ikhud—or “Unity” Party—an unsuccessful (and unpopular) movement dedicated to the ideal of Jewish-Arab bi-nationalism in Palestine and opposed to the idea of a sovereign Jewish state.
However, much of the backlash against Commentary in the late 1940s and early 1950s grew out of the magazine’s controversial embrace of fluid concepts of Jewish identity. Contributors to Commentary challenged rigidly drawn “distinctions between what is and is not Jewish and who does and does not belong to the Jewish community.” This was what Elliot Cohen meant when he wrote in 1949 that “we have talked of and hoped for a cultural pluralism in American life. Is it too much to ask for a cultural pluralism in Jewish thinking and culture too?” Cohen accused the official leadership of the Jewish community of promoting an “atmosphere of zealotry,” and of using the techniques of mass culture, mass advertising, and social scientific survey methods to assert “jurisdiction over the whole field of American Jewish culture...on behalf of one or another ideological interest.” By substituting “sloganeering and name-calling for discussion,” charged Cohen, community leaders turned “legitimate and diverse views into a struggle between ‘treason’ and ‘the only truth.’” Yet, as we shall see, Commentary’s contributors were also quite adept at name-calling.
Nonconformist Jewish intellectuals affiliated with Commentary criticized what art critics Clement Greenberg and Harold Rosenberg—both champions of Abstract Expressionism—characterized as the “herd conformity” and “herd warmth” demanded by some Jewish leaders. In a paradigmatic example of the overheated rhetoric of the Jewish war of words, Greenberg aimed his arrows at militant pro-Zionists such as Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver, whom he compared to a totalitarian dictator. As chair of the Zionist Organization of America, Silver had organized mass rallies, lobbied the Washington establishment, and earned a reputation in the years during and after World War II as the most vocal and uncompromising champion of Jewish statehood. Caustically attacking all opponents of political Zionism, Silver, a Reform rabbi who headed a huge congregation in Cleveland, conducted his campaign for Jewish statehood in a manner that his more moderate contemporaries in the Jewish establishment described as autocratic and ruthless. Silver also maintained an “adamant stand” against what he and others called Jewish “Jew haters” who opposed the Zionist vision and displayed an “anti-Israel bias.” Rabbi Silver had condemned Commentary for promoting the views of “uprooted intellectuals,” prompting Greenberg to write: “I should like to remind the Rabbi that the term ‘uprooted intellectual’ has been and is a favorite in the totalitarian (and anti-Semitic) lexicon of abuse, from Mussolini and Hitler to Stalin, and that wherever we hear it we can be sure that we shall also hear demagogy and obscurantism.” The fierceness of Greenberg’s remarks—remarks that drew upon the dominant political images of the Cold War era—typified the responses of liberal intellectuals to perceived pressures for conformity within Jewish life.
Dominant Cold War images also informed their attacks on the proponents of “positive Jewishness.” Elliot Cohen described the “dangerous mood” established by ideologists of “positive Judaism,” “affirmative Jewishness,” and “survivalism,” emphasizing that this was a phenomenon driven largely by “desperation” and “fright.” Clement Greenberg and Harold Rosenberg both condemned the movement for “positive Jewishness” as an effort to enforce a totalistic form of Jewishness. Although the promoters of “positive” Jewishness refused to believe it, Greenberg wrote in 1950, Jewish “self-doubt” was nearly “universal among Jews,” and not “confined on the whole to Jews like myself.” “Feeling oneself 100 percent Jewish” was not an “antidote” for self-hatred, insisted Greenberg. Rather, “such a feeling may even increase self-hatred.” He referred to the “Jewishness” of so many of these “positive Jews” as “truculent,” “aggressive,” and “uncharitable,” and overly “prone to polemical violence and name calling.” “Is not a ‘Jewishness’ defined almost entirely in terms of group loyalty and group conformity...being elevated as the supreme criterion by which everything and every Jew is to be judged?” asked Greenberg. And he warned that a “Jewishness” defined strictly in terms of “group loyalty and group conformity” was no different than what “the Germans made their Germanness.” How, then, should Jews recover from the “trauma” of Auschwitz? asked Greenberg. “We can do so only temporarily and privately and not according to organized Jewish policy either in Israel or outside it.”
Cold War era idioms also peppered Harold Rosenberg’s scathing indictment of proponents of positive Jewishness, whom he described as “ideologist[s] of commitment.” In his 1950 essay, “Jewish Identity in a Free Society,” he asserted that “in the intense preoccupation with Jewish survival prevalent in some quarters...[the] simple statement, acceptable for centuries, ‘I am a Jew’ is no longer felt to be enough; unless one can testify to a ‘total commitment.’” Rosenberg attacked this proposition, insisting that “by establishing a rigid measure of who is a proper Jew and who isn’t, the ideologists of positive Judaism were creating a “moral” system in which “the individual is measured not by his personal character but by the temperature of his allegiance.” Pushing back against these pressures, Rosenberg championed the idea of the Jewish “semi-outsider”—whom he described as the individual who saw his Jewishness not as a predetermined biological fact or a set of agreed-upon precepts, but rather as a “voluntary aspect of modern identity” that yielded the “constant possibility of ceasing to be Jewish to a greater or lesser degree.”
The term “Jewish Cold War” underscores the meanings of these acrimonious rhetorical debates about Jewish identity in the aftermath of the Holocaust. One side worried about Jewish weakness and self-hatred and insisted that group cohesion and loyalty were the keys to the survival of a distinctive Jewish culture. The other side framed its responses to the pressures for Jewish cohesion in terms of fears of totalitarianism and the loss of individual autonomy and freedom.
No participant in the Jewish Cold War had as much to say about the pressures for conformity within Jewish life as sociologist David Riesman. In my introduction to this essay, I recounted Riesman’s attacks on so-called “fanatic Jewish politicians” who used the tactics of ethnic “guilt” and moralism to engineer Jewish consensus and conformity. I want to return to Riesman to situate his remarks in the context of these intra-Jewish identity debates. Riesman’s intellectual stature in postwar America was almost without peer. His famous book, The Lonely Crowd (1950), which taught the postwar generation to examine the psychological underpinnings of American conformity, is still considered one of the most influential works of the 1950s. Time magazine even broke precedent in 1954 when it put Riesman’s portrait on the cover, making him the first social scientist to be so honored.
Yet The Lonely Crowd is not a book typically associated with the intra-Jewish debates I have been discussing. Thus it is worth pausing here to elaborate on Riesman’s own sense of Jewish identity. Like other New York Intellectuals, he was what historian Daniel Horowitz called “an anti-Stalinist liberal, an internationalist, and a pluralist skeptic—leery of fixed ideological positions, commitments to utopian dreams, fervent nationalism, and allegiance to authority.” However, Riesman came from a fundamentally different background than his liberal peers. Most of the other New York Intellectuals were raised in working-class Eastern European Jewish immigrant households in New York City. Riesman was the son of highly assimilated, well-educated, wealthy, socially prominent, and very un-Jewish German Jewish parents who were listed on the Social Register of Philadelphia.
In the early 1950s Riesman described himself as coming from a family that had “severed all or virtually all Jewish ties.” In “Catholic circles,” he remarked, families like his would be referred to as “the leakage.” Although historians have argued that Riesman’s nominal Jewish identity played no role in shaping his perspectives on postwar social issues, nothing could be further from the truth. The environment of his upbringing—not denial of Jewish roots but a studied, self-conscious distancing that was so typical of the German Jewish milieu in the United States and Europe—continued to shape his personal identity, and inflected his writings on Jewish issues, including the ones he published in Commentary, a magazine he admired for what he called the “precarious” stance of its contributors, whose “sharp and acrid curiosity” about Jewish life and “more broadly, about middle class life” offered “a needful preventive against any tendencies to become false and pious about the Jewish past and present.”
Riesman may have been the least “Jewish” of the New York Intellectuals, but he was no less engaged in trying to understand the problems of being a Jew in modern American society. The other New York Intellectuals published very little on antisemitism or Hitlerism during the war; by contrast, Riesman devoted himself to the cause of combating fascism and antisemitism on the home front. The war, and the growing presence of organized antisemitic groups in the United States, prompted Riesman, a law professor at the University of Buffalo, to produce a series of essays (between 1941 and 1942) on “the Politics of Persecution” and how to respond to the growing threat of antisemitic “intimidation” in German and American public life.
During the war years, Riesman had been preoccupied with the twin themes of the persecution and intimidation of Jews by non-Jews. However, in 1946, when Riesman gave up his law career to join the social science faculty at the University of Chicago, his focus shifted to other forms of persecution and intimidation—what he called “the tyranny of the powerless” (including Jews, blacks, intellectuals, liberals, and women) “over each other” and the propensity of leaders of these “beleaguered” groups to “intimidate their own constituencies.” This made him an important voice in the Jewish Cold War.
Intra-Jewish intimidation was the topic of Riesman’s 1951 Commentary article on “The ‘Militant’ Fight Against Antisemitism,” in which he invoked American anxieties about the Communist threat to frame his argument. Here Riesman accused Jewish nationalists of whipping up hysteria over every antisemitic remark and proceeding as if each slur constituted the moral equivalent to the Nazi extermination camps. In Riesman’s words, “every threat or presumed threat to Jews anywhere in the world can be converted into a lever for the ‘militant minority’ of Jewish organizational life, much as Russian threats to American interests anywhere reinforce the power of our self-proclaimed militant anti-Communists to put a blanket of ‘unity’ over American life as a whole.” In using this analogy between the scare tactics of hard-right anti-Communists and those of Jewish nationalists, Riesman reinforced his larger accusation that Jewish community leaders used “pressure group tactics” to enforce “unanimity among Jews.” To drive home the point, Riesman told a story about how, at the April 1949 meeting of the National Community Relations Advisory Council (an umbrella group established to oversee Jewish self-defense against antisemitism and coordinate intergroup relations), a number of Jewish participants told him in private that they agreed with his views, “but were in no position to say so publicly,” for fear the militants would label them as “scared Jews.”
However, Riesman’s overarching concern was whether individual Americans—Jewish or otherwise—could disavow what he called “groupism.” This was the central theme of his magnum opus, The Lonely Crowd, which raised fundamental questions about whether individuals could maintain their personal autonomy vis-à-vis the wider American society. In this book, Riesman invented the term “other-directed” Americans—a label that would circulate in public discourse for a generation. And he argued that “other-directed” Americans—in order to fit in and avoid aloneness—conformed to what their peers, their teachers, and the media expected of them. He used the concept “psychological radar” to describe how a young child learned to detect and gear his tastes and behavior to comport with the “symbolic action of others.”
Toward the end of The Lonely Crowd, Riesman reflected upon the special burdens borne by middle-class members of minority groups such as Jews. Riesman believed that assimilating American Jews were doubly submerged in the deadening ethos of “the group.” He argued that the new postwar tolerance for “cultural pluralism” meant that although Jews were not required to conform to the “whole package” of American defined standards of work, social life, and leisure, they still felt required to bow to the pressures of what he called “small-time [ethnic] culture dictators” who “operate” with the tactics of “peer-group censorship.” Most “subservient,” claimed Riesman, were the “almost but not wholly assimilated” Jews who, out of guilt and anxiety, permitted “the Jewish cultural compartmentalizers” to tell them what their “leisure style and friendship practice should be.” Just as “Negroes may be compelled to take pride in jazz or in Jackie Robinson,” wrote Riesman, so “Jews may be required to take pride in Israel or in Einstein.”
In a series of highly polemical essays published in the early 1950s, Riesman further developed his attack on so-called “ethnic culture dictators.” Note the politicized language. He criticized the aggressive stance of “chauvinistic and normalizing Jews” who attacked the “homeless cosmopolitan” or “margin-hugging Jew,” accusing “some Zionists here” in the United States of “employ[ing] a similar vocabulary to that of the Soviet Union today.” Echoing themes in The Lonely Crowd, Riesman argued that the cause of Jewish self-debasement was not the absence of ethnic pride, but the modern “race for success” in which individuals substituted a “cosmetic self” for the “genuine self.” He cited as evidence the “flourishing state of plastic surgery in Manhattan,” the Jews who “accept the majority’s standards when they criticize the public behavior of fellow Jews,” the Jews who “deny as Jews that there are such things as Jews,” and the Jews who reacted defensively to stereotypes of “the Jew” by downplaying those traits considered most offensive.
The solution, said Riesman, was not Jewish “chauvinism” or “nationalism,” but a stance of “moral independence” on the part of the individual Jew. He called that stance “marginality.” In Riesman’s view, “neither plastic surgery on ‘Jewish’ noses,” nor “psychic efforts” to heal “Jewish souls,” neither the “religiosity of self-Judaizing Jews,” nor the “normalizing” strategies of Zionist nationalism would liberate the Jewish self. What Jews needed, according to Riesman, was “a rational system of conduct” based on “insight” and “the possibility of choice.” That meant the ability to “move in different directions,” to remain “unintegrated to a degree,” and to mentally (even if “secretly”) resist being “organized” according to the categories that others, including members of one’s own minority group, wished to impose. While marginality “can freeze people with anxiety or nostalgia,” wrote Riesman, “the intellect is at its best, and its ethical insights are at their best, when one is in a marginal position that is not too overpowering.”
I have been arguing that the language of American Jewish disputation in the late l940s and early 1950s reflected and mobilized a particular set of concerns: post-Holocaust anxiety about Jewish communal loyalty and survival and Cold War era anxieties about the loss of freedom under totalitarian political systems. Riesman and other nonconformist intellectuals collapsed the distinctions between Nazi- and Soviet-style totalitarianism, seeing both as systems that demanded total conformity in thought and action. They also launched a spirited defense of Jewish nonconformity by pushing back against what some called the ideology of “total commitment” within Jewish life. They defended individual definitions of Jewishness, championed a stance of marginality, and equated ethnic chauvinism with the destructive nationalisms.
But when David Riesman claimed that it was difficult to publicly critique Jewish community leaders for fear of being labeled a “scared” Jew, he was wrong. Jews were scared. Scared that that their own survival as a unique community would be imperiled by the twin foes of total assimilation and antisemitism; scared that in the era of McCarthyism, the long association of Jews with the political left would tar their group as disloyal to the American polity. Americans of all kinds were also scared—scared of the Communist threat, scared that they would be brought before a congressional investigating committee, scared of the blacklist. Nevertheless, in this environment where debate was shutting down in so many realms of public life, it is perhaps remarkable that dissent of any kind remained in play. Contrary to what Riesman and others worried about (and in many respects they are the proof), on this strange little war front of modern Jewish life, disputation and debate—much of it ugly and accusatory—not only persisted among Jews, it thrived. And it continues to thrive.
Philip Roth, who was both participant in and literary heir to these intra-Jewish identity debates of the postwar era, goes so far as to suggest that disputation is what makes Jews “Jewish.” In a marvelously provocative passage in his 1993 novel, Operation Shylock, one character (Smilesburger) asks rhetorically: “Why must Jews be in conflict with one another? Why must they be in conflict with themselves?” And then he answers his own question, saying: “the divisiveness is not just between Jew and Jew—it is within the individual Jew. Is there a more manifold personality in the world? I don’t say divided. Divided is nothing. Even the goyim are divided. But inside every Jew there is a mob of Jews. The good Jew, the bad Jew. . . . The lover of Jews, the hater of Jews. The friend of the goy, the enemy of the goy. . . . The pious Jew, the rascal Jew. . . . The Jewish Jew, the de-Jewed Jew. . . . Is it any wonder that the Jew is always disputing. He is a dispute, incarnate!” But, “take away from the Jews their loshon hora”—their bad-mouthing of one another—he says, “and what do you have left? You have nice goyim.”
Roth goes too far in this humorous passage, playfully turning disputation into ethnic caricature. Instead, we need to understand Jewish disputation as a product of particular historical contingencies. Historians have also gone too far in characterizing the postwar decade as a “golden” period of “optimism,” community-building, and consensus among Jews. In fact, as we have seen, both the symbolism and the fierce language of debate between community leaders and liberal intellectuals in the decade after 1945, and in particular, the deployment of highly polemical and accusatory terms such as “loyalty,” “betrayal,” “self-hatred,” “treason,” “conformity,” and “totalitarian,” reveal a very particular moment of disputation. This language was not timeless; it reflected the irreconcilable perspectives of community leaders promoting post-Holocaust “survival” and “belongingness” and the equally serious preoccupations of intellectuals concerned about “totalitarianism” and the pressures for conformity within and outside of Jewish life. The tense and excessive language of the Jewish Cold War reveals the deep strains of anxiety that permeated the public culture of postwar American Jews.
On the postwar period 1945–1955 as a “golden decade” see for example, Arthur A. Goren, The Politics and Public Culture of American Jews (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999); Lucy Dawidowicz, On Equal Terms: Jews in America, 1881–1981 (New York: Henry Holt, 1982); and Edward S. Shapiro, A Time for Healing: American Jewry Since World War II (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992). The conclusion to Deborah Dash Moore’s GI Jews: How World War II Changed a Generation (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004), 261–63, also reiterates the point, as does Jonathan Sarna, American Judaism: A History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004), 277–84. By contrast, anthropologist Riv-Ellen Prell aptly describes the postwar decade as a time of “conflict” among Jews and a period of “optimism” mixed with “anxiety.” See Prell, “Triumph, Accommodation, and Resistance: American Jewish Life from the End of World War II to the Six Day War,” in Marc Lee Raphael, ed. The Columbia History of Jews and Judaism in America (New York: Columbia University Press, 2008), 116. Hasia Diner contrasts the “golden” era image with some of the more discordant aspects of the 1960s in The Jews of the United States, 1654–2000 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004), 259–60, 303–4.
Deborah Dash Moore, “Reconsidering the Rosenbergs: Symbol and Substance in American Jewish Consciousness,” Journal of American Ethnic History, 8, no. 1 (Fall, 1988), 26; Nancy Sinkoff, “The Polishness of Lucy S. Dawidowicz’s Postwar Jewish Cold War,” in Hasia R. Diner, et al. eds. A Jewish Feminine Mystique: Jewish Women in Postwar America (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2010).
Ibid., 135, 159, 161–72. Marc Dollinger, Quest for Inclusion: Jews and Liberalism in Modern America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000), 129-–136. See also Moore, “Reconsidering the Rosenbergs,” and Aaron Antonovsky, “Like Everyone Else, Only More So: Identity, Anxiety, and the Jew,” in Maurice R. Stein, et al. eds. Identity and Anxiety: Survival of the Person in Mass Society (New York: The Free Press, 1960). The timing of these events was critical to the way the Rosenbergs were depicted in the courtroom: the Soviet Union had exploded a nuclear bomb on August 29, 1949, the United States entered the Korean War on June 30, 1950, Julius Rosenberg was arrested on July 17, and Ethel Rosenberg was arrested on August 11.
For a more extensive discussion of the emergence of minority group self-hatred in American social science, including the parallel discourse on African American self-contempt, see Susan A. Glenn, “The Vogue of Jewish Self-Hatred in Post-World War II America,” Jewish Social Studies n.s., 12 (Spring/Summer 2006), 95–136.
“Everything Within Me Rebels: A letter from Kurt Lewin to Wolfgang Kohler,” 1933, Miriam Lewin and Gabriele Wickert, trans., Journal of Social Issues, 42, l986, 39–47. On specific warnings to American Jews see Lewin, “When Facing Danger,” (l939) and “Bringing up the Jewish Child,” (1940) in Resolving Social Conflicts.
Kurt Lewin, “Self-Hatred Among Jews,” Contemporary Jewish Record, 4, no. 3, June 1941. The essay was reprinted in Lewin, Resolving Social Conflicts (l948), quote on 197. All page references are to the l948 reprint. Lewin borrowed the “marginal man” concept from early twentieth century Chicago sociologist Robert E. Park.
Nathan Hurvitz, “Understanding the Self-Hate of Young Jewish Adults,” The Reconstructionist, November 14, l952, 18–24, quote on 24. See also Bernard Lazerwitz, “Some Factors in Jewish Identification,” Jewish Social Studies, vol. 15, January 1953, 3–18.
Jacqueline Singer, “Programming for Jewish Living,” The Jewish Center Worker, 10, October l949, 61, as quoted in Jack Rothman, Minority Group Identification and Intergroup Relations: An Examination of Kurt Lewin’s Theory of Jewish Group Identity (Chicago: Research Institute for Group Work in Jewish Agencies, 1965), 140. See also Eugene Revitch, The Mental Hygiene Value of Jewish Education (Pamphlet), (New York: United Synagogues of America, l949).
On the themes of individualism, alienation, and critical detachment for liberal Jewish (and non-Jewish) intellectuals see Richard H. Pells, The Liberal Mind in a Conservative Age: American Intellectuals in the 1940s and 1950s (New York: Harper & Row, 1985), 74–75, 135, 186–187. Although Riesman shared these sensibilities, unlike the other intellectuals discussed in this essay, he never flirted with Communism. See David Riesman, “Becoming an Academic Man,” in Bennett M. Berger, ed. Authors of Their Own Lives (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990) 45–46.
The phrase is from Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., The Vital Center (1949). Quoted in Bloom, Prodigal Sons, 218. See also Bloom, Prodigal Sons, 141, 210–18; Gerald Sorin, Irving Howe: A Life of Passionate Dissent (New York: New York University Press, 2003), 106–7.
Alan M. Wald, The New York Intellectuals: The Rise and Decline of the Anti-Stalinist Left from the 1930s to the 1980s (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1987), 268; Bloom, Prodigal Sons, 209–18; Sorin, Irving Howe, 110–13. Irving Howe famously criticized the reluctance of Commentary to take a more forthright stance against Joseph McCarthy. See Howe, “The New York Intellectuals: A Chronicle and a Critique,” Commentary, October 1968, 38.
Stuart E. Rosenberg, “America is Different,” (l964) reprinted in Peter I. Rose, The Ghetto and Beyond: Essays on Jewish Life in America (New York, l969), 85. Rosenberg made this statement in the l960s in response to articles that appeared in the l940s and l950s.
Milton Steinberg, “Commentary Magazine,” (1949) in Steinberg, A Believing Jew: Selected Writings of Milton Steinberg (Freeport, New York: Books for Libraries Press, 1951, reprint, 1971), 139, 140. The essay was written in November l949. See also Trude Weiss-Rosmarin, “Comments and Opinions,” The Jewish Spectator, December 1957, 3–6, which builds on the key points in Steinberg’s essay.
Ibid. Historian Steven Zipperstein, explains that Steinberg’s campaign against Commentary was provoked by the publication of Isaac Rosenfeld’s controversial piece, “Adam and Eve on Delancey Street,” a reflection on the relationship between Jewish sexual and culinary taboos. See Steven Zipperstein, Rosenfeld’s Lives: Fame, Oblivion, and the Furies of Writing (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), 174–5.
Norman Podhoretz, Making It (New York: Harper Collins, l967), 133. See also Alan Wald, The New York Intellectuals, 276. Wald claims that Elliot Cohen’s anti-Zionism grew out of his “universalist perspective,” while the AJC’s anti-Zionism reflected the wariness of its German Jewish leadership toward East European Jewish nationalism.
On “herd warmth” see Clement Greenberg, “Self-Hatred and Jewish Chauvinism: Reflections on ‘Positive Jewishness,’” Commentary, 10, November 1950, 431. See also Harold Rosenberg, “Jewish identity in a Free Society: On Current Efforts to Enforce ‘Total Commitment,’” Commentary 9, June 1950, 509.
Naomi W. Cohen, The Americanization of Zionism (Hanover, NH: Brandeis University Press, 2003), 12, 169, 184–5, 207–8; Marc Lee Raphael, Abba Hillel Silver: A Profile in American Judaism (New York: Holmes and Meier, 1989), 86, 97, 134, 181–183, 216. See also Mark A. Raider, Jonathan D. Sarna, and Ronald W. Zweig, eds. Abba Hillel Silver and American Zionism (London, 1997) and Zvi Ganin, An Uneasy Relationship: American Jewish Leadership and Israel, 1948–1957 (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2005).
Ibid., 426–427, 428, 429–430, 432–433. Six years earlier, Greenberg had criticized American Jews for their “suffocatingly middle class behavior.” See his comments in “Under Forty: A Symposium on American Literature and the Younger Generation of American Jews,” Contemporary Jewish Record, 7, February l944, 33. For further discussion of Greenberg’s Jewish identity and intellectual engagements see Florence Rubenfeld, Clement Greenberg: A Life (New York: Scribner, 1997). For a somewhat different examination of Greenberg’s uses of Lewin see Bloom, Prodigal Sons, 144.
Steven Weiland, “Social Science and Social Criticism: Some Vocations of David Riesman,” The Antioch Review, 44, 1986, 444–457. Wilred McClay’s book, The Masterless, discusses Riesman’s German Jewish background, but misses the significance of Riesman’s engagement in Jewish identity politics. Richard Pells’ book, Liberal Mind in a Conservative Age, provides an excellent analysis of the centrality of “alienation” in Riesman’s book, The Lonely Crowd, but ignores Riesman’s discussion of Jewish issues. Kirsten Fermaglich, American Dreams, Nazi Nightmares: Early Holocaust Consciousness and Liberal America (Brandeis University Press, 2006), mentions Riesman in connection with postwar writings on the Holocaust, but does not discuss his participation in postwar Jewish identity debates.
Riesman observed, for example, that the Nazis had perfected the means of turning “defamation” into a “political weapon” and then cleverly manipulated the law of libel by seeking injunctions to silence their democratic critics—all in the name of protecting Nazi “group honor.” He criticized what he saw as “timid” middle Jews who were too afraid to “object” to antisemitism “or anything else” “and do not wish to believe—even after all that has happened—that Fascism [in the United States] is possible.” He also insisted that “many Jews have [themselves] become anti-Semitic and carry within themselves the scorn for the group” encountered in “the outer world”—a theme that would continue to preoccupy him in the postwar years. David Riesman, “The Politics of Persecution,” The Public Opinion Quarterly, 6, Spring, 1942, 42, 44, 52, 56. He wrote these pieces during his visiting fellowship at Columbia Law School. After the United States entered the war, he first served as Deputy District Attorney for New York County and then became director of contract termination for the defense contractor Sperry Gyroscope. David Riesman, “Becoming an Academic Man,” 48–52.
Ibid., 11. Although Riesman had a number of close friends among American-born and Jewish émigré intellectuals, he was not involved in Jewish organizational life. His appearance at a meeting of the National Community Relations Advisory Committee (NCRAC), where he presented a portion of his essay on “The ‘Militant’ Fight Against Anti-Semitism,” was therefore highly unusual. According to Shlomo Shafir, Riesman attended the meeting out of concern that some Jewish groups were endangering “freedom of expression” by trying to prevent the appearance of certain German artists in the United States. On Riesman and the debate over German artists, see Shlomo Shafir, Ambiguous Relations: the American Jewish Community and Germany Since 1945 (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1999), 129 and 403 (n. 16).
David Riesman, (in collaboration with Reuel Denney and Nathan Glazer), The Lonely Crowd: A Study of the Changing American Character (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1950), 6, 19–22, 24–25, 55, 69–72, 99–112, 335–336.
Riesman, “Some Observations Concerning Marginality,” 113, 122, 125, 126. Riesman is arguing here for a positive revaluation of Park’s marginal man idea, and he reminds readers that Park himself believed that every human needed mental space from the demands of society.
Michael E. Staub makes a similar point about the ongoing fighting among Jews, but his work locates the beginnings of this pattern of intra-Jewish argument in the l960s in the context of Jewish-Black tensions rather than the late l940s. See Torn at the Roots: The Crisis of Jewish Liberalism in Postwar America (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002), 308.