Just Because You're Paranoid...

By Josh Feit May 4, 2009


I was sort of glad when the AIG bonuses scandal hit. It broke just as the Madoff story was sucking up all the attention and rapidly turning  the whole Wall Street/banking crisis/bailout story into a story about a single huckster.

Not only was the Madoff story a diversion from the real (and much more important) story about how and why our financial system was in a crisis (which the AIG story brought back into focus), but I was wary of the anti-Semitic tinge to the Madoff news. Here we were in a financial crisis similar to the crisis of the 1930s, and once again it was the Jews.  

Was I being paranoid? Maybe. Even my super Jewy G.F. thought so.

But this morning she sent me this:
In order to assess explicit prejudice toward Jews, we directly asked respondents “How much to blame were the Jews for the financial crisis?” with responses falling under five categories: a great deal, a lot, a moderate amount, a little, not at all. Among non-Jewish respondents, a strikingly high 24.6 percent of Americans blamed “the Jews” a moderate amount or more, and 38.4 percent attributed at least some level of blame to the group.

Interestingly, Democrats were especially prone to blaming Jews: while 32 percent of Democrats accorded at least moderate blame, only 18.4 percent of Republicans did so (a statistically significant difference). This difference is somewhat surprising given the presumed higher degree of racial tolerance among liberals and the fact that Jews are a central part of the Democratic Party’s electoral coalition. 


The findings presented here are troubling. This is not the first instance of an economic downturn sparking anti-Semitic sentiments. Financial scandals are widely regarded as contributors to the rise of anti-Semitism in European history. 
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