Tuesday, June 21, 2005

How Anti-Semitism Has Ruined Civilizations

In this month's Commentary magazine, renowned historian, Paul Johnson, explores the genesis of racism in societies from a historical and philosophical perspective. He then examines anti-Semitism in particular and demonstrates how this type of racism against Jews has lead to the collapse and/or destruction of nations in addition to the tragic expulsion or murder of millions of Jews. His analysis spans thousands of years and consistently shows how countries who turned against the Jewish community ultimately suffered, while those nations that welcomed these people prospered due to the important contributions the Jews gave to society. Here's a sample:
Another outstanding case was Czarist Russia. Under Catherine II, the early elements in what was to become a complex system of anti-Semitic laws were introduced in the late 18th century after the partition of Poland, which gave Russia a large Jewish minority for the first time. Thereafter, prohibitions and restrictions were constantly enlarged and made more stringent, and were reinforced by official encouragement of 'popular' pogroms. The result was a large-scale migration of Jews to the West, particularly to Britain and the United States--again to the economic and cultural benefit of the Anglo-Saxon powers. Russia was correspondingly weakened, not only by the loss of talent but also by the immense increase in administrative corruption produced by the system of restrictions. The country was damaged in another way, too. The legal enforcement of Russian anti-Semitism became a model for the subsequent Soviet system of internal control, which can be understood as an extension to the population as a whole of laws that once oppressed Jews only. The aftereffects, including rampant corruption, are still to be felt at all levels of Russian society today.
With anti-Semitism on the rise world-wide, Johnson's piece is clearly one history class everyone should take.