CBS no longer categorizes American Jews as ‘ethnic minority’

Two sociological observations about the place of Jews in the American establishment.

Last night on “60 Minutes” correspondent Byron Pitts said of Pakistani-American Shahid Khan’s purchase of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011:

That deal made Khan the first ethnic minority to own a team in the NFL.

Many Jews own NFL teams. Marc Tracy says 10 or 11. So let’s be clear about Pitts’s meaning: Jews are not an ethnic minority. When I was growing up, it went without saying that we were. Not any longer, apparently, because we’re viewed as part of the Establishment…

This irritated me. Harvard Magazine has a feature about alumna Lauren Greenfield’s documentary about an odiously-superrich couple called David and Jackie Siegel. Called the Queen of Versailles, the movie focuses on the Siegels’s disgraceful house in Florida. The article repeatedly offers the Siegels as generic Americans: They “were just trying to live the American Dream… ‘If this film is a portrait, it is also a mirror.’”

Of course I wonder what the Siegels tell us about the new era of Jewish wealth and arrival. Now maybe Greenfield talks about that in the film. But not here:

Greenfield became interested in the lives of the 1 percenters as an undergraduate, where she studied photography under Barbara Norfleet, Ph.D. ’51, then a lecturer and curator of still photography at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, who had produced a book called All the Right People, about the WASPs of the Northeast.

Right. It’s always cool to bash those rich WASPs.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 53 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Krauss says:

    People mix up race and ethnicity.

    Jews are about 80% racially white(20% of Jews in America are non-white, often forgotten within the Jewish community due to the total domination of Ashkenazi Jews). However, whichever race you are as a Jew, Jewishness is also an ethnicity, although with increased conversions, that is changing.

    There is an interesting discussion about whiteness and Jewishness itself.
    I remember reading Weiner’s interview from 2007 just as Mad Men got its start. He noted that as Jews climbed up the ladder of America, “we price we paid was to become white”. Of course, he meant culturally etc. But I disagree with him, but that’s a point I’ll later clarify.

    I think Mad Men is so popular among élite Jews precisely because it’s one big “Now We Know Better”(as the London Review of Books stated acidly). It’s a serenade of the new elite over the old elite. All elites need self-confirmation of how noble and good they are.

    The only problem is that while Jews are part of the American elite, the WASPs never really got away. Many are intermarried. Just take a guy like Haim Saban, biggest individual donor to the Democratic party for many years and one of the top this year. He’s intermarried, and he compares himself to Lieberman on Israel.
    So even ethnocentric Jews like Saban are intermarried, what does that say about the Jewish elite?

    The mythical WASP never went away, but they’re still popular to bash. After all, being the challenger is always a lot more fun than being incumbent. True in politics, true in life overall.

    As for Weiner’s point about the “price we paid” was to “become white”, I guess he means this in cultural terms as passing for white is something that Ashkenazi Jews do very easily, simply because they/we are white.

    As for culture? Well, take the civil rights movement. What happened once a bunch of pro-minority laws were passed? The black-Jewish alliance fell apart. Jews fled en masse into the lily white suburbs. No longer were Jews so isolated in their Brooklyn sthetls. As a result, assimiliation skyrocketed. This was especially true for those Jews who were born during this era, late 60s, early 70s. They were the first to be truly immersed into mainstream American life. Their parents still held out how different they were, but their everyday life experiences told them otherwise.

    We know the rest of that story.

  2. Krauss says:

    By the way, speaking of Jews and diversity. I mentioned the 20% of Jews who are non-white, this is an interesting interview I came across:

    link to jewschool.com

    The woman is both black and gay, and on top of that Jewish. She’s an Orthodox convert and she speaks openly about the latent racism in the Jewish community. From the automatic assumption that all Jews are white, from being treated as the cleaning lady, asked if she’s “lost” at Jewish gatherings to even being told point blank at numerous occassions that black Jews are not “real Jews”.

    She doesn’t bring up all of those things in the interview(she has a decent blog, although it has become less about Judaism and more about Obama in these final weeks), but quite a few she does. It was pretty harrowing for me to read about the time she was in a synagogue and everyone consciously avoided sitting next to her. Her bench was entirely empty except her and everyone else sat on other benches next to each other and made great effort to avoid sitting even on the same bench as her.

    I think Jewishness is becomming more and more cool, and I think as a result more people will start to convert. Not just people doing it because it is trendy, but because they are genuinely interested in converting and going that extra mile. As America’s demographics change, more of them will be people of color.

    How will the wider Jewish community react, especially the older Jews?

    There’s already a lot of young Asian women marrying young Jewish men, many of whom are converting. Some are even becomming rabbis. There’s one Jewish woman of Korean ancestry who is the cantor in a Manhattan synagogue.

    What happens as more people of color convert, as intermarriage inevitably becomes more interracial and not just WASP/Jewish?

    The Orthodox sections of American Jewry will remain monolithically white(okay, not entirely, about 20 % of them are Sephardic Jews, but many of them tend to be on the same wavelength as Southern Europeans in how they look. A far cry from black or Asian), while the secular streams of American Jewry will become more and more diversied. This will inherently cause more strains in the future, perhaps even an unbridgable rift.

    • Mooser says:

      “There’s already a lot of young Asian women marrying young Jewish men, many of whom are converting.”

      That’s what I keep telling my wife, but she just laughs at me.

    • Mooser says:

      “I think Jewishness is becomming more and more cool, and I think as a result more people will start to convert. Not just people doing it because it is trendy, but because they are genuinely interested in converting and going that extra mile. As America’s demographics change, more of them will be people of color.”

      You bet! Why the rush by the young all over the world to embrace the religion of Israel is on!

    • aiman says:

      “I think Jewishness is becomming more and more cool, and I think as a result more people will start to convert. Not just people doing it because it is trendy, but because they are genuinely interested in converting and going that extra mile. As America’s demographics change, more of them will be people of color.”

      I’m guessing “Jewishness” is different from Judaism. The idea of belonging to a tribe can only be considered trendy. Authenticity only comes from a philosophical, moral committment. Not a tribal gala. Some Muslim converts learn this the hard way when they try to impossibly become “Arabs” and suffer the worst of Puritans who the actual Arabs wouldn’t give a thought to. The other trend may be in a merrier direction but it’s as superficial as the second.

    • bob says:

      Krauss The Orthodox sections of American Jewry will remain monolithically white(okay, not entirely, about 20 % of them are Sephardic Jews, but many of them tend to be on the same wavelength as Southern Europeans in how they look.

      For all of the U.S. govt, white is technically defined as people with origins in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. This includes Arabs.

  3. hughsansom says:

    I think Philip Weiss has quietly nailed a key factor in weighing whether Group X is part of the establishment: A group is a member of the permanently privileged if it can be bashed in ethnically specific terms without alarms going off regarding bigotry.

    If that criterion is plausible, it’s still more fluid than many imagine. Norfleet’s book came out in 1988 — a lot has changed, but less than claimed by those who insist that the US is the world’s greatest everything. Chomsky wrote that he went to MIT in no small measure because it was well-known at that time that Jews just didn’t get tenure at Harvard. That much has changed. But, if treatment of Arab and Muslim Americans is any sign, we’re losing ground again. One step forward, two steps back.

    As a matter of historical curiosity: How was the first instance of a wealthy Jew buying a major sports franchise received? Was it noted at all?

    People were upset that Mikhail Prokhorov bought the Nets — a sign of American bigotry, maybe; definitely not a sign that Russians are or were a victimized minority, though they’re certainly an ethnic minority in the US, even if not expressly identified as such.

    There are wealthy and powerful African Americans, but it would be absurd to suggest that Blacks are not still a discriminated-against ethnic minority…. But… With the election of Obama, how many people were talking about the “end of racial politics” even as many across the US were brazenly airing grossly racist views? (And as, recently, reports have shown that Americans are _predominantly_ hostile to blacks.)

    So all in all, I’d say that whatever ‘standard’ or ‘thinking’ is behind the 60 Minutes assertion, it’s just factually wrong — on several counts.

  4. Mndwss says:

    “CBS no longer categorizes American Jews as ‘ethnic minority’”

    Maybe they think of them as an ethnic superiority?

    The ethnic superiority is superior to the ethnic minority?

    “We should not be astonished if in the cases where we see an inferiority [feeling] complex we find a superiority complex more or less hidden. On the other hand, if we inquire into a superiority complex and study its continuity, we can always find a more or less hidden inferiority [feeling] complex.”

    “If a person is a show-off it is only because she or he feels inferior, because she or he does not feel strong enough to compete with others on the useful side of life. That is why she or he stays on the useless side. She or he is not in harmony with society. It seems to be a trait of human nature that when individuals – both children and adults – feel weak, they want to solve the problems of life in such a way as to obtain personal superiority without any admixture of social interest. A superiority complex is a second phase. It is a compensation for the inferiority [feeling] complex.”

    - Alfred Adler

  5. Danaa says:

    Are we allowed to comment on this piece per the new comment policy? I am not sure whether anything I’d have to say about the new mandarins (cf, the nuveau riche Siegels and the jewish baseball teams owners alluded to in the post) could possibly pass muster (comment masters)?

    Is it OK BTW to point out just how many of the 1% are Jewish (Hint: percentage wise it’s more than a factor of 10 over the population percentage, and this is being awfully conservative) ? is it OK to suggest that the predominance among the 1% had something to do with the paucity of jewish activists among the OWS people on the ground (yes, there were a few, especially among speech makers, and more than enough to make a raucus about lending support to the quest of palestinians for their rights as humans)?

    Shoot. I may have violated the rules now – will await with baited breath to see whether this was the case**.

    ____
    ** and I am one of the “nice thinking” ones, I think (so use imagination to fill in the blanks)

    • I’m just going to sit over here in the corner, on this rickety old folding chair, and button my goyishe lip. Please, just carry on as if I’m not here, okay?

      Oops, sorry about the squeaking! I’ll try not to fidget so much… anyone got any 3-in-1 oil?

    • Krauss says:

      From what I’ve understood, the Jewish sociological articles will be seperate(but then again, they have usually been) and then they are not tied to Israel, like this one. So as long as people post on topic and not veer into rants centered around Israel/Zionism, it should be fine.

      Still, I agree with you on the wider point you make. I said as much in the thread that announced these new changes, since it is impossible to discount culture and Jewish history in what has shaped – and continues to shape – Zionism. But that is an argument we lost and we better just move on.

      (That being said, I still think down the road it will become obvious that it is impossible to discount those factors going forward as the discussion evolves and resistance to anti-Apartheid increases. Much of that resistance will be worded in religious and cultural phrases, invoking Jewish history and culture and a call for Jewish blood loyalty and attacks on Jews who choose liberalism over Jewish apartheid.
      And what then? Should we vaguely denounce “capitalism and imperialism”?
      I think Phil will notice this disconnect the most since he is so sensitive to these issues to begin with. But, alas, this is another discussion).

    • jewishgoyim says:

      Not sure about the new moderating policies. I’m trying them out these days…

      To your question about the 1%: I don’t know the percentage of Jews among the 1%. Yet I remember an article from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency stating that as per their calculations, 40% of the 50 richest Americans were Jewish and 35% of the 400 richest. It was based on a fortune 400 rankings a couple of years ago. They also pointed out that Jews were 1.8% of the US population.

      Now I don’t know if that is in line with the new comment policy but just for the record, this article I mentioned from JTA was linked here at Mondoweiss… ;-)

      Now I have to say that people here never put any smileys in what they write. This gives to Mondoweiss a very “highly educated, über elite, holier than thou” flavor but it feels also a bit disconnected from the rest of the internet. So there it is and too bad if my smileys get moderated. One should not have to have an ivy league background to comment on Mondoweiss! (I’m just pretending here guys. I’m just like you people: I have an Ivy League background. Or not. If I’m a Jewish Goyim, I may well be an Ivy League blue collar – still don’t know if Goyim should be capitalized, I asked the question once but don’t remember the answer if I got any…)

      :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)

  6. The American usage of “a minority” to refer not to a group but to a single individual has always seemed very odd to me. All of us are minorities as individuals.

    I soon realized that “minority” has absolutely nothing to do with arithmetic. It means a group that suffers discrimination and oppression. So we Jews are no longer a minority, though we were in the past. Perhaps the same applies to Chinese Americans.

    In principle a group can be a “minority” even if it constitutes a majority of the population. So a good case can be made in favor of calling working people a minority, even though they constitute a large majority of the US population (whether 90% or 95% or 99% depends on exact definition). They are a minority because they dispose of a minority of assets, resources, power.

    However, I don’t suppose this is why this odd usage of the word “minority” arose. I see its source in the ideological assumption that America is a society in which all people have equal rights. At some point a concession was made — it was admitted that certain minorities do not have equal rights. This concession was tolerable because it was still assumed that most people were doing fine and the problem of oppressed minorities could be tackled by reform. So discussion of inequality has to be forced into the Procrustean bed of talk about minorities.

    • Mooser says:

      “All of us are minorities as individuals.”

      But some of us, Mr. Shenfield, are larger minorities than others.

    • Krauss says:

      Suffering enters the equation, for some reason. Jews do not, on the whole, suffer as Jews are very well educated, rich and arriviste since a long time ago. This doesn’t mean Jews are not minorities, but it is harder for the left generally to talk about poor and mistreated minorities like blacks and hispanics and Jews in the same breath. Sure, the Holocaust was bad, they acknowledge, but it was also a long time ago.

      People have been warning about the oncoming moment “when there are no Holocaust survivors left and it becomes a fading memory”.

      Asians, or at least groups like Chinese, also claim victimhood. It is how they are portrayed in the media, they say(although the negative anti-Asian portrayals have largely been eradicated compared to 10 years ago, but this isn’t popular to bring up because it removes the victim card).

      Comparing their socioeconomic success to, again, blacks and hispanics will also create a bunch of headache for leftwingers.

      On the one hand these minorities are genuine minorities but America is turning into a country of minorities everywhere. It will be a lot harder 10, 20 years down the road to talk about this pervasive “white supremacy” so many do, when you look at Ivy League admissions. 25% Jews, 25% Asians and 25% blacks/hispanics in Harvard already today.

      Now go a few years into the future as the richer classes of India and China begin to send their kids. There’s a lot of legal bribing going on. It’s well known if you donate millions of dollars your kid has a decent chance. Tens of millions and it is a guaranteed spot. On top of that you have genuinely bright kids from these nations. Sure, a lot of them will go domestic but many won’t.

      All this means that it will be harder to maintain the facade of perpetual WASP dominion, which has been a false image for a long time now. But as I mentioned before, it isn’t fun being the incumbent. It is much more fun to rage against the power elite, even if you’re already part of it.

      Thus, you will keep hearing about the Jewish quotas well into the future, about the Holocaust and so on even if it has no bearing on people who live at that time. You’ll keep hearing about the anti-Asian TV culture well into the future too, even as more and more of them become producers in their own right.

      All this is part of the victimhood culture. Whites will catch up. As their numbers dwindle, the acusations, often hypocritical, of “nativism” and “xenophobia” will lose their potency and the white victimhood will increase. Oh, the race-baiters will lament, now we’re a lost majority, victims of affirmative action, and the list will go on.

      This is the left’s weakness. 10, 20 years down the road everyone will find a way to be a victim because it is the only game in town. But it will be harder for whites(non-hispanic, non-Semitic European-Americans), Jews and Asians(except for the poorer groups like Hmong, Cambodians etc) to justify their fraught rhetoric of perpetual doom as real suffering in brown and black communities still linger after the Great Recession and disparities widen.

  7. crone says:

    “People mix up race and ethnicity. Jews are about 80% racially white(20% of Jews in America are non-white, often forgotten within the Jewish community due to the total domination of Ashkenazi Jews). However, whichever race you are as a Jew, Jewishness is also an ethnicity, although with increased conversions, that is changing.” ~ Krauss

    I would disagree:
    Although some scholars have attempted to establish dozens of racial groupings for the peoples of the world, others have suggested four or five. An example of a racial category is Asian (or Mongoloid), with its associated facial, hair color, and body type features. Yet too many exceptions to this sort of racial grouping have been found to make any racial categorizations truly viable. This fact has led many sociologists to indicate that no clear-cut races exist—only assorted physical and genetic variations across human individuals and groups.

    Certainly, obvious physical differences—some of which are inherited—exist between humans. But how these variations form the basis for social prejudice and discrimination has nothing to do with genetics but rather with a social phenomenon related to outward appearances. Racism, then, is prejudice based on socially significant physical features. A racist believes that certain people are superior, or inferior, to others in light of racial differences. Racists approve of segregation, or the social and physical separation of classes of people.

    Ethnicity refers to shared cultural practices, perspectives, and distinctions that set apart one group of people from another. That is, ethnicity is a shared cultural heritage. The most common characteristics distinguishing various ethnic groups are ancestry, a sense of history, language, religion, and forms of dress. Ethnic differences are not inherited; they are learned.

    Judaism has distinct ethnic groups in itself, but does not make the entire group an ethnicity? Ashkenazic (German or Eastern European), Sephardic (Spain and Portugal), Mizrahim (Middle Eastern, North African) and smaller subgroups exist. These include: Indian Jews (Bene Israel), Romaniotes (Greece), Italian and Chinese Jews. The customs are different, so are the base languages as a whole etc.

    WRT CBS Pitts’ remark, I would question the term “Pakistani-American” ~ Pakistan has a multicultural and multi-ethnic society and hosts one of the largest refugee populations in the world as well as a young population. Why is it even necessary for Pitts to refer to Shahid Khan as being Pakistani-American? unless
    he is pointing to the fact that Khan is “not white?” Wiki refers to Khan as a Pakistani-born American… which inclines one to think “here is an immigrant who has done well.”

    But then I don’t understand the use of the term “Jewish American”. We don’t use “Christian American” or “Methodist American” ~ fact is, we are all “Americans”
    For a couple of decades we have been using the term “African Americans” to point to Africa as the place of one’s ancestry, as we refer to “Italian Americans” or “Irish Americans” ~ imho these terms are also unnecessary… and sometimes smack of racism or bigotry ~ as with “No Irish Need Apply” ~ or labeling Obama African American when in fact while he is non-white, his ancestry includes a number of different countries.

    And Krauss, you mention that “20% of Jews are non-white” ~ What is “white” anyway? Many of my ancestors were from Sweden. My appearance is “white” as is the rest of my family. But if you go far enough in my family tree you will find that one of my 6th Great Grandmothers was African (I dare say there are not many Southern USA families without an African ancestor somewhere). Moreover, DNA research indicates that all of us on the planet originally came out of Africa… So, we are all AFRICANS ~ some of us religious, some of us not.

    There seems no consistency for any of the terms used; but didn’t someone once say:

    ” A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”

    • Mooser says:

      “This fact has led many sociologists to indicate that no clear-cut races exist—only assorted physical and genetic variations across human individuals and groups.”

      Sure seems that way. And even if, at one time, significant genetic diffences between isolated populations existed, that was already coming to an end by the Age of Sail, let alone the jet plane.
      He’s chasing distinctions without differences.

    • Keith says:

      CRONE- “To be great is to be misunderstood.”

      Vindication! (Sorry, but I couldn’t resist)

    • Krauss says:

      Good comments. A few points:

      I personally think that “Jewish American” will be used more as a religious term in the future than as a cultural/ethnic term, although change is slow. Part of this is because of the ongoing secular/Orthodox split. 80% of Jewish children in NYC are Orthodox. Give it 10-20 years and you’ll see some real disagreements.

      This will be accelerated by the previously mentioned conversion rates and general loosening of secular Jewish identity. A lot of hardline Zionists think that as Israel comes under more attack, many Jews will eschew their liberalism and become thuggish nationalists. That will probably happen in a few cases, but in many more, you’ll see more disconnects. And as it becomes obvious to a much wider audience that Israel isn’t merely “becomming” an Apartheid state, but is actively deeping it’s current status as one, all but a small, but potent, group will disengage.

      The whole out of Africa comment is true, of course, but we’re all apes too. Go back too much and things just become blurry, even if factually accurate. People have evolved enough to have significant differences in culture, racial features etc for there to be barriers. This is a negative thing, of course, but it is also hard to deny if you look around the world.

      Your point about sub-ethnicities within a national group is also a good point. In the Jewish context, however, it is hard to say how much differs between, say, Ashkenazi and Sephardi. Zionism is the glue that to a large extent hold them together. I think what seperates the communities today is less than what used to be the case, just as what seperated Irish catholics and Anglo protestants used to be a lot more a 100 years ago than it is today.

      Still, blanket terms like “Hispanic” or “People of Color” can be misleading, but they nonetheless are inevitable in a national portrait that is more mosaic than ever before. To make sense of the world, categorization is one of our favourite(if flawed) tool. It isn’t by any measure optimal, but I think it will become, and already is, impossible not to use for many people. And not just for reasons of making sense of the world around them, but also for more personal motives(like belonging to the correct victim group, say, for a person of diluted heritage who seeks to maximize his or her victimhood for obvious political and economic reasons).

      • Ellen says:

        Serious question..

        Aren’t comments like this :

        Your point about sub-ethnicities within a national group is also a good point. In the Jewish context, however, it is hard to say how much differs between, say, Ashkenazi and Sephardi. Zionism is the glue that to a large extent hold them together.

        In violation of the new comments policy?

        Not because this is quite an odd comment, but aren’t posters forbidden to write their thoughts on things like cultural background and what they might think that means regarding Zionism, etc?

        Just asking.

        • Danaa says:

          “aren’t posters forbidden to write their thoughts on things like cultural background and what they might think that means regarding Zionism, etc?”

          Nehhh…. there is no connection – unless you care to pen some peans to jewish achievement, a la NYTs (which can’t possibly be considered the local you-know-what paper, not even with Shmuel Rosner posting – - well, peans to anything israe-lite).

          You may try Marc Ellis’ series – which – by its name – leans to things culturally, historically and religiously jewish vs not so [much] . May be it’s OK to do a mix and match? comment on matters culturally exilic there – perhaps even not so flattering (didn’t Marc designate our times as the end of jewish history? one could just agree for example) then comment on something zionistic on the latest post on Israeli misdeed-de-jour (or d’heure) or the hasbaratics misoeuvre, then go back to Ellis and make a prophesy.

          You good at gymnastics? tumbling? triple lutz? magic tricks? off top[t]ics?

  8. pabelmont says:

    Jews are (regarded as) “white”. That’s not (in) (or a part of) “a minority”.
    Period. Not “establishment”, just “white”.

    However, power is something else.

    And as to power, a story: I talked a few years ago to a Jewish lawyer from Houston who was saying (bragging) that a man I’d met, another lawyer from Houston — lacking a Jewish name — had recently CONVERTED and joined his synagogue! And all I could think was, WOW! In Houston, that’s where the POWER is! (You had to meet these lawyers to understand why I thought about power. They were representing wealthy corporations.) These guys were my litigational and in one case personal enemies and it was far, far from my thought to utter to either of them the word “landsman” or the like.

  9. Dan Crowther says:

    Crowther’s response: Who cares?

    • German Lefty says:

      Crowther’s response: Who cares?
      I don’t quite understand. Does that mean that you want to be begged to give your opinion or that a previous comment of yours wasn’t published by the moderators?

      The new comment policy confuses me. I am not sure about what is allowed and not allowed. Frankly, I am not keen on putting effort into writing comments just so that the moderators reject them afterwards, which already happened twice on the “comment policy thread”. That’s really frustrating. Can’t we just go back to normal and stop the hysteria?

      Regarding the article: Personally, I don’t think in terms of “ethnicity” or “race”. Therefore, I find these categories mostly useless. However, there’s nothing wrong with mentioning a person’s race or ethnicity if it is actually relevant to the topic and if the label is not used to deprive the person of their individuality.

      That deal made Khan the first ethnic minority to own a team in the NFL.
      In this case, the person’s ethnicity is entirely irrelevant. I really don’t understand the use of this information. It’s not a numbers game. The same applies to gender. As the former political director of the German Pirate Party stated: “We don’t keep track of our members’ gender. We believe true equality starts when we stop counting women.”

      • Dan Crowther says:

        my response was to the article, more specifically it’s title. i’m a reagan baby, so in my entire life i have never, ever, considered my jewish buddies part of “an ethnic minority” … they’re just white guys. if this article was from thirty years ago, it might be news, but it hasn’t been for a long, long time.

  10. marc b. says:

    I think Mad Men is so popular among élite Jews precisely because it’s one big “Now We Know Better”(as the London Review of Books stated acidly). It’s a serenade of the new elite over the old elite. All elites need self-confirmation of how noble and good they are.

    and yet elites always operate on occult principles because they wishe to be seen, and simultaenously not seen. ‘mad men’ is not a historical piece, it is absolutely a celebration of the current elite, but the celebration isn’t made by way of comparison, because the characters are simultaneously ‘waspish’ and ‘jewish’. the hidden part of the celebration is that, setting aside the juvenile ‘admissions’ of longing for 50′s cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption during pregnancy noted in some ‘analyses’ of ‘mad men’, racial/ethnic differences are being extolled and offered as an explanation for the current elite’s ascendence. (that, and the 50s-60s back drop permits weiner to carry on with his racist jokes and misogynistic tendencies, as viewers pretend that they are laughing about the gap between 50s and 2000s sensibilities, when they are simply enjoying, guilt-free, a good ‘darkie’ joke.) but you can’t say that. yes, america is a better place because parents don’t let their children play spaceman by placing plastic bags over their heads, but is america trending more favorably, is it more ‘free’, now that this elite is in place? the first observation is permissible, the follow up question is not. america was briefly a place where people could pull themselves up by the boot straps. now it is largely a closed system. those who go to harvard now are primarily those who can afford to go to harvard.

  11. I, too, was surprised by this remark.

    Upon reflection, it seems clearly intended to communicate Phil’s headline, but only to part of 60 Minutes’s audience – those who are aware that many NFL teams are owned by Jews, and that Jews have always been regarded as a small minority who have historically been discriminated against because of their Jewishness. This meaning is much more heavily weighted that the more obvious meaning – no one other than a white American has ever owned an NFL franchise. This last statement without its hidden reference to Jewish Americans, is just dumb, and racist. The only intellectually “redeeming” value of the statement is that which is embedded in code.

    Is speaking in code that only part of the public can understand – those who study the role of Jews in American society, and are tuned into nuanced rules governing how this can and cannot be discussed – the goal of writers and editors on popular American news journal programs? Especially, when the more obvious meaning borders on the racist. And when the subject is someone named Khan from Pakistan? And against the background of the ancient history of WASP disdain for professional sports generally?

    To me, it is misdirected talent, taking pride in what can be said to some people without others noticing. Sacrificing good universal writing in service of coded writing. As if it makes you part of the elite to speak over the heads of the hoi polloi.

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    link to huffingtonpost.com

  13. hophmi says:

    There is no question – at all – that Jews are an ethnic minority in the United States. We are less than 2% of the population, and whatever so-called power we may have, it still does not include days off for Sukkot, Pesach, Shavuot, or Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur outside of areas with large Jewish populations. Even in New York City, where I work, a Jew can be penalized for not being available to work seven days a week. It has happened to me personally. Christmas and New Years are still days off anywhere. So the 60 Minutes piece is simply wrong.

    I’d advise people here to stop counting everyone else’s money. There are plenty of Jews who live in poverty in America, and they are certainly not among the top 1%. There are also certainly many more WASPs who are millionaires and billionaires than there are Jews.

    I also continue to be mystified by the crying about bashing WASPs, which makes you sound like Sean Hannity from Fox News going on about the War on Christmas. Jews are bashed plenty in this society, and WASPs, who continue to be the majority here, don’t seem to suffer from any of this so-called bashing.

    Why on Earth should the religion of the Siegels have anything to do with this film? Are they observantly Jewish? Is the flaunting of wealth exclusive to Jews? Is it part of Judaism? Is the riches to rags story a “Jewish story?”

    Barbara Norfleet’s Book, “All the Right People,” chronicles the lives of Boston’s upper crust in images and interviews. It was written in 1986. Is it your contention that Jews constituted Boston’s upper crust in 1986 (or now, for that matter), or that the upper crust in Boston is “Jewish?”

    • Philip Weiss says:

      I think it is hypocritcal to identify and analyze a segment of the ruling class in religious terms, the WASPs, while failing to apply any of that same type of analysis to the Jewish rise. We have made incredible leaps in the last generation.

      • hophmi says:

        “I think it is hypocritcal to identify and analyze a segment of the ruling class in religious terms, the WASPs, while failing to apply any of that same type of analysis to the Jewish rise. We have made incredible leaps in the last generation.”

        Well, Phil, it’s a book about Boston. Are you asserting that the elites of Boston were Jewish to the extent that it warrants analysis on the same scale? There are certainly plenty of books about the Jewish experience in New York; the subject has been studied in quite a bit of critical detail.

        In general, I’d make the following responses. First, WASP is not just a religious term. It encompasses race, national origin, and religion, and is a euphemism for people who were overwhelmingly responsible for founding the country . I’d bet there are many Americans who don’t even know what the letters stand for, and think it simply means well-to-do white people, including Jews and Catholics. If you want to be cynical about it, you could call them Americans-who-have-been-here-so-long-their-ethnicities-aren’t-hyphenated Americans.

        Surely, you’ll agree that rich Jews have been subjected to much more insulting pejoratives, like JAP, Jewish-American Princesses (and Princes).

        I’ve always though WASP was an imprecise term anyway. Do you think it’s reasonable to lump evangelical Southern Baptists into the same category as Episcopalians or Presbyterians? I don’t think there’s much of a shared experience here.

        You could say German Jews are the WASPs of the American Jewish community. But can you compare their experience with Eastern European Jews?

        And do you really think that the Jewish experience in America is underanalyzed? I think there is plenty of analysis out there, including in the popular press, and it runs the gamut. What about the Catholic experience? Has that been suitably analyzed? Catholics have certainly made major strides over time and occupy many, many positions of power in American society, including 2/3s of the seats on the Supreme Court.

        At the end of the day, though many Jews are part of the power structure, we are still a tiny part of the American population, a part that I think most objective observers would say has been analyzed in great detail, and not the subject of universal scholarly praise, either.

        • hops, WASPS is not a an ‘imprecise term’. here’s wiki’s opening line: White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) is an informal term, often derogatory or disparaging,[1] for a closed group of high-status Americans mostly of English Protestant ancestry.

          and yet..notice that word ‘informal’. contrast that with ” JAP, Jewish-American Princesses (and Princes)” which you regard as “much more insulting pejorative”. why? why is it much more insulting? perhaps you could point us to an informal term, often derogatory or disparaging, that harvard magazine would casually publish about rich jews, the closed group of high-status Americans and no one would complain.

          the vast majority of White Anglo-Saxon Protestants in this country are not wealthy. you know that right? so what is the equivalent term for rich establishment jews that’s publishable.

          phil, i think you are mistaken about jews being a considered an american minority. link to en.wikipedia.org

          it’s defined by race, (strictly speaking, if i converted to islam i would not be considered a minority on a census ).

          The majority of the more than 300 million people currently living in the United States consists of White Americans…….

          German Americans made up 17.1% of the U.S. population followed by Irish Americans at 12% as counted in the 2000 U.S. Census. This makes German the largest, and Irish the second-largest, self-reported ancestry groups in the U.S. The largest Central European ancestry (if Germany is considered a Western European, not Central European country) was Polish,[citation needed] counting both Catholic Poles and Polish Jews.[citation needed] The largest Eastern European ancestry was Russian,[citation needed] including a recent influx of Ashkenazi Jews.[citation needed] There were other significant ancestries from Central, Eastern and Southern Europe, especially Italy (see Italian American and Sicilian American), as well as from French Canada.

          white people are not considered minorities in the US.

        • i just realized my explanation was somewhat skewed. here’s the first paragraph of wiki’s ‘minority group’ explanation link to en.wikipedia.org

          A minority group is a sociological category within a demographic. Rather than a relational “social group”, as the term would indicate, the term refers to a category that is differentiated and defined by the social majority, that is, those who hold the majority of positions of social power in a society. The differentiation can be based on one or more observable human characteristics, including, for example, ethnicity, race, gender, wealth or sexual orientation. Usage of the term is applied to various situations and civilizations within history, despite its popular mis-association with a numerical, statistical minority. In the social sciences, the term “minority” is used to refer to categories of persons who hold few positions of social power.

        • Elliot says:

          What about the Catholic experience? Has that been suitably analyzed? Catholics have certainly made major strides over time and occupy many, many positions of power in American society, including 2/3s of the seats on the Supreme Court

          The context of this discussion is the extent to which Jews leverage their tribal relationships to benefit a foreign country. I don’t have a problem with Jews helping other Jews or working together on national projects.

          Regarding Catholics, your point is well taken, to the extent that they serve a foreign state. It’s outrageous when the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops publicly try to influence the outcome of an election (as they have done). But even then, it’s a religious conviction and does not benefit the foreign state. American Catholics are famously more liberal than the official Catholic line, to the dismay of the Vatican. If I were Catholic, I’d most likely be bothered by more Catholic issues. I happen to be Jewish and Israeli. Phil is Jewish. Others here care for different reasons. But saying that we should stay mum because of Catholic power is not convincing.

      • Danaa says:

        Not enough of a leap, Phil. That my comment (tongue in cheek) still “awaiting moderation” two days later is a testimony to that. Had the subject been WASPS it’d have been a cause for perhaps some grudgy merriment rather than premature internment. The live burial bespeaks to a certain insecurity. You should see what’s allowed to see the light of day in a typical israeli facebook – open to all, unencumbered by annonymity. Not a shred of insecurity there, not about culture, or identity or morals, or values.

        Just saying….

        PS won’t you let my comment go to sink or swim on its own? even as hophmi with its textual subterfuge is allowed to stand?

    • Elliot says:

      The overwhelming majority of Jews in the United States don’t take off work for Sukkot and other traditional, Jewish holidays. They don’t feel that being asked to work on Sukkot is a mark of a dominant Christian culture.
      Jews overwhelmingly see no light between being Jewish and being American. This is increasingly so, as younger generations push up.

      It might be fair to call traditionally-observant Jews, a “religious minority”. That would put those Jews in the same category as devout Christians who are mortified by the mainstream’s rejection of traditional Christianity, including, among many other things, the 7 day a week work culture.

      And Jewish power, as Phil stresses is important. Some countries have ruling classes that mostly marry each other and have done so for generations, (to a higher degree than Jewish endogamy in the U.S.). It would be odd to call that group “an ethnic minority”.

      • hophmi says:

        “The overwhelming majority of Jews in the United States don’t take off work for Sukkot and other traditional, Jewish holidays. ”

        In part because they weren’t able to when they came here, and fell out of the habit of observing the holidays.

        “They don’t feel that being asked to work on Sukkot is a mark of a dominant Christian culture.”

        How do you know that? How do you they felt when they were asked to do it earlier in the 20th century?

        “Jews overwhelmingly see no light between being Jewish and being American.”

        Who said they did? Neither do Catholics. Neither do Muslims.

        “It might be fair to call traditionally-observant Jews, a ‘religious minority’.”

        What does observance have to do with it? Must one be observant to qualify as being part of a religious minority?

        “And Jewish power, as Phil stresses is important.”

        And I ask again, what about that power is “Jewish?”

        • “And Jewish power, as Phil stresses is important.”
          And I ask again, what about that power is “Jewish?”

          well, protestant power is called wasp (establishment), that is not the same as protestant. just like jewish is not the same as ‘jewish power’(establishment).

          the only difference i can see is there’s an acronym for one and not the other. can you think of an acronym for jewish power. one harvard mag could sling around informally?

        • Elliot says:

          Of course, there were many Jewish immigrants who were forced to drop Jewish observances on arrival in the U.S. and other countries. Many were glad to do so. Others knew the risks when they came. That’s why so many traditionalists chose not to leave Eastern Europe. This is the sad reason the Holocaust particularly devastated the Orthodox community.
          But all that is in the past. You were talking about the present. Do you think a majority of American Jews care about our secularized Christian calendar. They might get bothered by the two month commercial Christmas season. But then so do many devout Christians.
          The commercialization of America and the workaholic work ethic clash with all traditional and religious lifestyles. Nothing to do with “Jewish ethnicity”.

        • Elliot says:

          Right. In the Jewish community, as you well know, hophmi, there is a social value placed on patronizing Jewish businesses. I was once yelled at by a Jewish accountant for not hiring him and for taking on a non-Jewish one instead. His behavior was odious but it was within a Jewish cultural norm.
          Phil has documented expensively how this worked in advancing his career.
          That’s what makes this power “Jewish.”

        • hophmi says:

          “the only difference i can see is there’s an acronym for one and not the other. can you think of an acronym for jewish power. ”

          You’re missing the big difference, which is that Protestants constitute well over half the country, and Jews constitute less than 2 percent.

        • hophmi says:

          “In the Jewish community, as you well know, hophmi, there is a social value placed on patronizing Jewish businesses.”

          I’ve heard this a lot, and I’ve generally had two responses. The first is that while Phil may have documented his personal experience, I’ve seen no scientific evidence supporting this argument, and thus, I think it’s more stereotype than fact, particularly today. Of course, I can’t prove it either way without scientific evidence.

          Second, it should not be surprising that Phil had those experiences, because a two generations ago, Jews were still shut out of many professional and elite circles, and thus, they had to rely on ethnic solidarity to a point to create businesses and employment for their coreligionists.

          Third, to the extent that Jews did do this, it’s hardly unique. Ethnic and racial minorities do tend to stay amongst their own to some extent. African-Americans have mostly African-American friends, Hispanics mostly Hispanic friends (and you can break that down by nationality) and both groups tend to trust their own. Same with Greeks, Italians, and so on.

          So again, what you describe as a Jewish cultural norm is not Jewish, but general. Describing it as Jewish makes it seem unique and nefarious, when that is not the case.

        • hophmi says:

          “Do you think a majority of American Jews care about our secularized Christian calendar.”

          It’s hard to answer that question without having an alternative to it. The point is that it’s a little bit of folly to talk about Jewish power and acceptance when acceptance has in some part been synonymous with total assimilation. I don’t think total assimilation is progress. I think America is a place where you can live as you please while respecting the rights of others to do so, not a place where you must accept the limits or tenets of some false “American culture” to fit in and “be American.” When you assimilate completely, how are you contributing to the American fabric? You’re just imitating the majority.

        • Ellen says:

          hophmi,

          You quote and write:

          “Jews overwhelmingly see no light between being Jewish and being American.”

          Who said they did? Neither do Catholics. Neither do Muslims.”

          Honest question: How and why is it that, a country, self identified as a Jewish “Homeland,” actively and successfully recruits Americans who are Jewish for it’s Army?

        • we were not addressing jews and protestants (and they are not ‘well over’ 1/2 the country). we were discussing their powerful; protestant elite/power (wasps) and jewish elite/power (?? seeking informal acceptable harvard mag slur) .

          Jews constitute less than 2 percent.

          if you would like to discuss demographics of jews and protestants instead, perhaps you should explain why /how this relates to power. btw, have you ever heard of World on Fire by Yale Law School professor Amy Chua? it’s about dominant minorities. michelle goldberg reviews it here

          link to salon.com

        • Elliot says:

          “Describing it as Jewish makes it seem unique and nefarious, when that is not the case.”

          That’s your impression, not mine, or, necessarily, others.

          Are these uniquely nefarious, to the exclusion of others?
          -Jewish mobster
          -Jewish money
          and, of course,
          -Jewish mother

          On the positive side, do these exclude the possibility of other groups claiming these categories?

          -Jewish values
          -Jewish jokes
          -Jewish commitment to learning
          and so on.

        • Elliot says:

          hophmi,
          This is a side question. You are questioning the reality that the article reports.
          You would prefer Jews to be an ethnic minority.
          I actually prefer “religious minority”. It fits in with the ethos of the US. It’s descriptive of where we are today. I’d talk about what Jewish tradition and culture can offer America, rather than what Jews give.

        • Philip Weiss says:

          Thank you for these flashcards, Elliot; they make me smile.

  14. piotr says:

    hohmi alerted me to the fact than not all American Jews belong to the top 1%. I started to check the arithmetic and indeed! if there are 2% of Jews in the population, some do not belong to top 1%. Actually, there are some non-Jews in the top 1%.

    For example, on the list of 6 largest mansions in USA, only 3 owners are Jews, and the largest one still belongs to a Vanderbilt.

    • Danaa says:

      piotr, not all jewish Americans belong in the 1% – that’s absolutely true. For the most part, since they are almost all well educated the correct statement is that they are mostly in the top 5% (which includes much of the professional class, such as lawyers, accountants, doctors, IT people, scientists as well as most small business owners), with the tail of the Gaussian income/wealth distribution stretching into the top 10% (which is really not that high an income level – almost every professor is in that segment and most school teachers, many real estate agents, architects etc.). There will, of course, be exceptions among jewish individuals – like in every other group – where they might be found – sometimes temporarily – in lower income group, say during student years, medical/law internship, among struggling artists and actors, and of course, many people on fixed retirement income (many of whom are all that wealthy, no more so than the rest of the population on the average).

      All that was for secular or traditional jewish people. Where Hophmi is right is among the ultra-orthodox. That’s where real poverty among jewish people can be found including some who are on welfare. But that’s a function of a certain life choices, including disdain for most forms of regular work which takes you out of the orthodox milieu and the propensity for extra large families which must live on a smallish income (exceptions abound here. Many of the ultra-orthodox have a firm foot in the diamond business for example, which, however can be cyclical). As the secular jewish community continues to inter-marry – and has fewer children – the proportion of the ultra-orthodox will increase, and with it the income curve is likely to start skewing lower faster, because of sheer numbers. With that we’ll see greater conservatism and an increase in rabid, unthinking forms of zionism, this time religiously motivated.

      Somewhere I have the percentages for the income and wealth groupings in the US. But maybe I should leave that for another day. Comments are held up on this thread, so it might be a waste of time.

      • piotr says:

        I actually know some American Jews in spite of “impure” ancestry — I have some purely Jewish kin. And some pretty much belong to the working class, in spite of being not particularly religious Ashkenazi.

        However, the association of Jews with banking is so strong that protests against bankers (“Occupy Wall Street”) are quickly decried as anti-Semitic. And 50% of the ownership of the largest mansions is definitely an impressive stat. The rich Jews are definitely having economic and political power. Many of them detest Republican, perhaps because of the type of religiosity that is repulsive to them even in Jewish variety, denial or evolution, climate change and general stupidity. (It can be charming that Romney does not know where Iran is, but it is also scary.) And vast majority of rich Jews is resolutely Zionist. And they fund all those think tanks, AIPAC and so on.

  15. piotr says:

    … whatever so-called power we may have, it still does not include days off for Sukkot, Pesach, Shavuot, or Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur outside of areas with large Jewish populations.

    And who will shed a tear for the poor Communists who cannot take a day off for the anniversary of October Revolution (which comes on this Wednesday)?

    At least you can sit in the office, watch revolutionary videos like this link to youtube.com and let capitalist pigs think that you work.

  16. crone says:

    No matter how you slice it, when it comes to income and wealth in America the rich get most of the pie and the rest get the leftovers. The numbers are shocking. Today the top 1 percent of Americans control 43 percent of the financial wealth (see the pie chart below) while the bottom 80 percent control only 7 percent of the wealth. Incredibly, the wealthiest 400 Americans have the same combined wealth as the poorest half of Americans — over 150 million people.

    link to currydemocrats.org

    World Distribution of Wealth by Country

    link to en.wikipedia.org

    The Forbes 400: The Richest People In America

    link to forbes.com