Europe’s State of Mind
[We share with our readers this paragraph from a private letter just received from a valued contributor, writing from Europe in explanation
of why he was unable at this juncture to write a political article that we had requested.-Ed.]
. . . I will confess something more to you: Since I have to keep silent in any case for some
time [because of another literary commitment],
this is as good a time as any for silence. There
is no controversy being aired here about which I feel strongly, no serious menace and no promis- ing perspective, neither Europe nor the cold war; Mendes-France is not even disquieting any more (after all, what was all the fuss about him? And why distrust him any more? Now that everybody distrusts him, he has become
as reliable as a French politician can be). This is an era of co-existence, we can’t do anything
about it. I have just read the recent essay by George Kennan on "The North Wind and the Sun" (I am not sure if I retranslate the words exactly, but you know what I am speaking about: since the north wind has failed to make
the Russians take their coat off, let’s try warm sunshine). As the Russians came to exactly the same conclusion two years ago, and have been acting on it very successfully since, ‘there is now sunshine everywhere-a sunshine competi- tion between Mr. Eisenhower and Malenkov.
I am sure that as long as they do not start the north wind to blowing again, nobody will. And
I am afraid that if and when they do, the next blow will find us not only without our coat, but down to our underpants. But it is useless to tell people that there are still dangers and pitfalls ahead; everybody knows it, but (ex- cept for some professionals) nobody wants to hear about it any more, everybody is fed up
and utterly bored. If you want to be sure that an article or a publication will not be read, put "Cold War" or "Russian Danger" or "Commu- nist Conspiracy" in the title. Maybe this is not yet the mood in New York, but certainly it is here. There is still some wild talk about European Union, or rearmament pools, or dis- armament, or German reunification, but it is talk for talk’s sake, because political writers and speakers have to talk about something,
even if their only thought is "no change" so long as the Russians do not stop the sunshine competition-and why should they? It is a big success-it will go on, and for the time being everybody is happy about it. This is no time of decision, at least not in these quarters-
maybe, to find a place where big things are happening one would have to go to Bandung, next April. In Europe there is stalemate, sun- shine, and prosperity. For the time being I am not greatly interested in politics….
Somewhere in Europe
Law and Hospitality
To THE EDITOR OP COMMENTARY:
There are several observations I would like to add to Charles Abrams’ illuminating article ". . . Only the Very Best Christian Clientele" (January). Mr. Abrams contends that vigorous legal action may help close the yawning-gap
between the vulgar practices of discrimination
and official public policy toward them. At least this can be done, he believes, in the nineteen states which have already enacted anti-discrimi- nation laws.
Mr. Abrams, however, does not discuss the serious difficulties in the way of finding en- during solutions through law enforcement. A
major weakness in most prohibitory legislation is its underlying conception of discrimination
as a crime. Most of the statutes were enacted
in the late 19th century, following the adoption
of the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Con- stitution. Criminal prosecution was provided as a remedy in all nineteen states. But the laws
have not been enforced consistently largely be- cause juries-understandably-will simply not return verdicts which may send people to jail
for failing to provide accommodations at a vacation resort. The "crime" does not seem to justify so severe a punishment. There have been only two successful prosecutions in New
York in the 60-odd years since the law was en- acted. Many states also provide the added rem- edy of permitting claims for damages to be filed by the injured party. But this, too, has not been effective; most victims of discrimination find litigation time-consuming and costly….
More sensible and potentially more useful
LETTERS FROM READERS
~-I.-LETTERS FROM READERS
laws establishing commissions against discrimi-
nation have been passed in five states. These
modern laws reach the incident and the offender
without a formal trial; they make it possible, through a rational and conciliatory approach, to obtain a pledge by the hotel owner against future discrimination. The commissions against discrimination cannot take action, to be sure, until a formal complaint has been filed by an injured party. But Governor Harriman of New York, in whose administration Mr. Abrams now serves, has proposed legislation giving authority to the State Commission to initiate investigation into discriminatory practices without having to wait upon a private complaint … But law at its best can only be a start toward reaching enduring solutions. We should err grievously if we thought that it is the resort owner’s attitude alone which requires modifica- tion. His policy is determined, often command- ed, by the attitude of the clientele to whom he caters. When resort literature mentions "nearbv churches" or "Jewish cuisine," the resort owner is seeking to reach prospective guests who re- spond to this kind of information.
We are confronted, therefore, with the need to modify the attitudes of a large section of the public. Some sense of hospitality-or, at least, a willingness to accept others on the part of the resort- and hotel-visiting public-is essen- tial. Favorably circumstanced contact between groups (as at resorts and places of recreation) generally helps modify hostile attitudes. An- other important way of modifying attitudes is through the full use of educational media de- signed to reach public opinion generally, as well as the resort and hotel trade. Reliance on law alone would be illusory. Many states, for example, prepare attractive brochures on their vacation spots and facilities -these and other materials can also be used as a means for encouraging a more hospitable pub- lic opinion. Community organizations concerned with improving group relations also play an important role, negotiating and conferring to produce an "indifference to irrelevant differ- ences," and otherwise creating the social situa- tions in which wholesome contacts are stimu- lated. My point is that change, depending as it does upon a maturing public attitude, can be accelerated appreciably by community as well as governmental action. The government and community acting together, with the sup- port of realistic statutes providing full com- mission powers, can hasten considerably the necessary process of accommodation of differ- ences leading to the creation of a more hospit- able spirit than the one currently prevailing.
EDWIN J. LURAS New York City
To THE EDITOR OF COMMENTARY:
Discrimination is a reprehensible social prac- tice, but I wonder if in its trivial manifestations, like the uppityness of certain resorts, it de- serves to be taken as seriously as Charles Abrams does. Mr. Abrams thinks these places should abandon their clannishness, if only to accommo- date the "many people who find homogeneity a bore." Evidently, however, there are also a great many who will rather endure boredom than heterogeneity-particularly during their vacations. Why insist on spoiling their fun, when there are plenty of mixed resorts! . . . It would probably be a great source of addi- tional pleasure to the snobs and climbers among our co-religionists if the gates of those embattled and hitherto inaccessible enclaves would open for them, but Jewish organizations, in my opinion, can find more worthwhile causes to devote their energy to than shattering the barriers of the "select-clientele" resorts….
J. S. OESTREICHER Bronx, New York
TO THE EDITOR O1 COMMENTARY:
Since it began, the cult of McCarthyphobia has been neatly co-terminous with the large group of self-regimented Americans who claim the label of liberal. During five years the cult- ists have produced and devoured a body of revelation so vast that to give it an adequate survey would require more wordage than there is room to print or time to read. So COMMEN- TARY has done a considerable public service by bringing us Mr. James Rorty’s "VWhat Price McCarthy Now?" (January). Doubtless un- wittingly, he has composed a marvelously faith- ful scale model of the whole literature. Here in a compass one can traverse between dinner and bedtime are all the techniques of the McCarthyphobe dialectic: the dainty in- vective; the conclusion foregone; the question passionately begged; the bland inconsistency, the naive non sequitur; the guilt by association- by-association … Here in a mere five and one-half pages Mr. Rorty has called Mr. McCarthy a "monster," "the shabbiest demagogue," "all too inhuman," "a kind of monstrous political robot," the vic- tim of "a kind of mad glandular logic." Mr. Rorty has remarked the Senator’s "demagogic nihilism," his "splenetic attack," "his nature primitive, or distorted," his "prompt and sav- age response." His supporters boo "with start- ling ferocity," and "applaud deliriously." This is rational?
Ah, yes. It is when intemperate words (or for that matter temperate ones) are used of
Communists and their ilk, that the cultists de-
mand a showing, of the protagonist. But what
liberal worth of his ADA pin ever offered or required proof of any derogation of the Senator?
Applied to him, these delicate characteriza- tions are reciprocally probative: he is each of them, because he is all the others….
Mr. Rorty tells us as though there were something wrong about it that Major Williams left the Marines in 1940 and that Major Jordan accused Harry Hopkins of folly. I never saw
Al Williams in my life. I don’t know whether he resigned because of dandruff, duodenal ulcers, or a distaste for battle. If Mr. Rorty does know, he ought to come out like a man and tell us, or else not drag the matter up at all. Whether Major Jordan presented a true bill
I am not here trying to say. What I want to know from Mr. Rorty is what edict has estab-
lished the inviolability of the public record? Where does he get the crime of lMse Hop- kins? . . .
It is reported, says Mr. Rorty, that President Eisenhower will soon remove all doubts about
his candidacy in 1956. Here in Washington are about a thousand newspaper men and twice as many lobbyists, one of whom brings forth some such "report" every two hours….
Mr. Rorty derides the McCarthy faction be- cause only 2,287,143 people signed their peti-
tions. Their drive was a flop? But later on (p. 35) they are still "inundated by a continuing
deluge" of signatures. Was it a flop, or not? Mr. Rorty frowns on the generals who (like
Washington, Jackson, Grant, and Eisenhower)
"violated the tradition that has ordinarily de- terred American military men from engaging in politics." Next page he remarks without a
gulp that the nice CEC is headed by General
Mr. Rorty is displeased that Senator Mc- Carthy attacked Mr. Eisenhower, violently in- deed, for not performing as McCarthy claims
he promised. Had Mr. Rorty a hard word for Senator Morse, who accused Mr. Eisenhower of precisely the same thing in 1952 and again on
TV as lately as last month?
Mr. Rorty punctiliously concedes that Ad- miral Crommelin "never exhibited anti-Semitic tendencies." Then he slyly gives the lie to his own candor by setting out at some length the activities in other enterprises of certain of Ad-
miral Crommelin’s co-sponsors of this enterprise. Mr. Rorty reports that the sponsors of the
pro-McCarthy meeting were men of "earned prestige and high personal integrity." They were "at some pains to keep their meeting as respectable and all American as possible" and they "tried to keep out known anti-Semitic … crackpots and fanatics." But for Mr. Rorty’s
purposes anti-Semitic they must be made out,
and so he gets anti-Semitic banners into his re- port by recalling he saw them in the same
hall 15 years ago. (Come to think of it, Mr.
Rorty himself has been keeping some mighty unsavory company!) This is a powerful device,
and if practicing character assassins generally adopt it, the Garden is through as a meeting
Finally, it is clear that Mr. Rorty could have written a really penetrating analysis of third party prospects vis a vis the McCarthy faction, had not the lure of McCarthyphobia proved too much for him. It is a pity. I agree with Senator McCarthy and his sup-
porters, and with Mr. Rorty, that Senator McCarthy is not important. But the large fac- tion for whom Mr. Borty speaks is important. The cult itself, and its methods, as here demonstrated by Mr. Rorty, are a great pity. As my grandfather, when he was sheriff of Twiggs County, Ga., three quarters of a century ago, observed to a group of men who were of a mind to use violence against a prisoner:
"What this fellow is accused of, if he did it, shows the kind of a man he is. What you folks are proposing to do shows the kind of people you are."
Not a clever cult, and not a brave one! DILLARD STOKES
Washington, D. C.
A Venture in Real Estate
To THE EDITOR OP COMMENTARY:
Charles Reznikoff’s "A Gallery of Jewish Colonial Worthies" (December, January) al- ludes to, but strangely ignores, the major role many of these notables apparently played in
one of the most ambitious speculations in land this country has ever witnessed.
A bare outline of the venture is set forth in the reporter’s statement preceding Chief Justice
Marshall’s classic opinion in the case of John- son and Graham’s Lessee v. William M’Intosh,
8 Wheat. 543 (1823). According to that re-
port, on July 5, 1773, "William Murray, of the Illinois country, merchant, acting for him-
self and for Moses Franks and Jacob Franks, of London, in Great Britain, David Franks, John Inglis, Bernard Gratz, Michael Gratz, Alexander Ross, David Sproat and James Milli- gan, all of Philadelphia, in the province of
Pennsylvania; Moses Franks, Andrew Hamil- ton, William Hamilton and Edward Milne, of the same place; Joseph Simons, otherwise called Joseph Simon, and Levi Andrew Levi, of the town of Lancaster, in Pennsylvania;
Thomas Minshall, of York county, in the same province; Robert Callender and William
190LETTERS FROM READERS
Thompson, of Cumberland County, in the same
province; John Campbell, of Pittsburg, in the
same province; and George Castles and James
Ramsay, of the Illinois country" bought two
tracts of land (comprising over ten million
acres) east of the Mississippi River and north
of the Ohio River from the Illinois Tribes of
Indians for $24,000, or approximately one-
quarter of a cent per acre.
Unfortunately for them, these speculators
failed to take into account the principle of law,
followed in theory then, as now, by all West-
ern nations, that Indian title may be extin- guished only by the sovereign, and not by pri-
vate entrepreneurs. Consequently for decades
the proprietors of the Illinois Land Company
found it necessary to importune Congress either
to recognize the validity of their purchase or to make a "compromise" settlement of’ their
claims. Congress denied each of these petitions in its entirety.
By the Treaties of August 13, 1803 and De-
cember 30, 1805 (7 Stat. 78 and 100, re-
spectively), the United States acquired much of the same land from the same Illinois Indian
tribes for an equally ludicrous consideration,
about one-eighth of a cent per acre, and shortly
thereafter began selling small tracts therein to settlers for prices ranging up to $2 per acre.
As might be expected, an individual claiming
title under the Land Company’s "deed" eventu-
ally sued an individual claiming title under a grant from the government for possession of
a particular tract. In the opinion referred to
above, Chief Justice Marshall finally declared: "After bestowing on this subject a degree of
attention which was more required by the mag-
nitude of the interest in litigation, and the
able and elaborate arguments of the bar, than
by its intrinsic difficulty, the court is decidedly
of the opinion that the plaintiffs do not exhibit a title which can be sustained in the courts of
the United States."
A fifty-year-old dream of empire in the West
thus was buried for all time.
ARTHUR LAZARUS, JR.
Washington, D. C.
Pupil and Master
To THE EDITOR OF COMMENTARY:
David Baumgardt’s "Maimonides: Religion
as Poetic Truth" (November 1954), brought me back to the time of his brilliant teaching at
Berlin University when I was his pupil in ancient philosophy. But as he states himself, it would be "small gratitude to one’s teacher to
want to be nothing but his pupil," and it is
out of respect for the master that I demur at some of his conclusions. He is right when he
declares that our traditional religious poetry is
a more adequate expression of the sphere of
holiness than the most ingenious definitions of
God’s attributes-"Spricht die Seele, ach! so
spricht die Seele nicht mehr." It was not until
Schleicrmacher that religion was conceived as a spiritual experience sui generis. But Maimoni-
des, although rationalist, doesn’t deny the authority of poetic and even anthropomorphic
language. He only warns against a literal ac-
ceptance of Biblical anthropomorphism, and,
on the other side, while he explains the philo-
sophical meaning of the Biblical vocabulary, he
defends it against superficial criticism and
stresses the authority of our prophets’ message.
(Dr.) CH. C. LEHRMANN
Grand Rabbinat du Grand-Duche de
The Dolphin House (Cont’d)
To THE EDITOR OF COMMENTARY:
In view of the remarks in the letter of Mr.
L. Wagenaar of Jerusalem (January) on the subject of the Dolphin House Hotel and Coun-
try Club, I feel obliged to make the following
No one who operates a resort hotel or similar
enterprise objects to publicity. When I wrote
my letter to you, however, following my having
read Morris Freedman’s articles on Grossinger’s
(July and August 1954), I had no intention or
expectation that it should be published….
This would have closed ‘the matter were it
not for Mr. Wagenaar’s misunderstanding of
our establishment’s position. Not satisfied with
the motive of my previous letter, he goes
further to point out that, in one vital respect,
the Dolphin House differs from Grossinger’s.
In picturesque language, he states that the
Dolphin is "strictly and guaranteed-treif."
This must surely give a false impression of
the hotel situation in Israel, and particularly of the Dolphin. As Chairman of the Tourist
Committee of the Israel Hotel Association, and
as a member of the Israel Government Tourist
Center, may I mention that of the ten luxury
class hotels in Israel, six are kosher and four
are not. Statistics show that not more than five
per cent of visiting tourists (to say nothing of
the Israelis) make a specific issue of kashrut.
Nevertheless, no bacon or ham would be served,
or anything done to upset -the traditional feeling
of our guests. On several occasions, special ar-
rangements are made for kosher facilities for
groups and individuals, as when the President
of Israel, Mr. Ben Zvi, spent his summer vaca- tion at the Dolphin in 1953.
The Israel hotel industry is in a position to
cater to all sections of the Jewish community,
according to taste and the best traditions of
Shavei Zion, Israel
Self-Segregation and Judaism
To THE EDITOR oF COMMENTARY:
Whether your correspondent (Deborah
Dorfman, January 1955) is describing her real
situation or is writing with tongue in cheek,
it seems to me that she does point up a tragic
dilemma of many Jewish parents-and admits
herself defeated. These parents "lost their re-
ligious beliefs before finishing college." They
have more in common with their fellow liberal
intellectuals among Gentiles than with the
average Jew. They honestly tell their children
of their lack of Jewish identification. Then
they send their children to Jewish religious
schools, join Jewish organizations, lead social
lives almost entirely among Jews. They do not
know why and are bitterly worried about
Does not your correspondent show that for
most of us some kind of "segregation" is a
sociological fact, which even those well- equipped cannot escape? Does not your corre-
spondent clearly, if plaintively, show that we
are a "peculiar people"?
This being so, would it not be advisable for
us to reexamine the historical basis for our
peculiarity? Would we not find that it is in-
separably bound up with a peculiar under-
standing of man and God and their relations?
With a vast system of responses made to life’s
problems within a peculiar framework-
-IF, IN some way, we are segregated, it seems
to me that we have two choices. One, we can
accept the fact more or less resignedly and
stagnate within our "social ghettos," imitating
the desirable but unattainable "integrated"-i.e.,
non-Jewish-world. We send our children-
faute de mieux-to Sunday school to learn of
their historical background and to help them
with their social integration into (at least) the
Jewish community. Since we lost our religious
beliefs before finishing college, we do not, of
course, want our children instructed in the
outmoded superstitions of "religion." Or, two, we might recognize that we belong
to a group that had conceived of itself as di-
vinely ordered to be holy. We might recognize
that we are the result, even today, of a his-
torical process deliberately and consciously in-
stigated and carried on by our leaders in the
past. We might then question whether "our religious beliefs before we finished college" had
much in common with those responses to life,
that Judaism which-to the mystification of
sociologists and historians-has kept us alive to
I feel certain that your correspondent would
not reject in "politics, literature, the theater,
and other ‘intellectual’ pursuits" anything she
has not tried to understand and appreciate as a
mature person. Only in regard to Judaism, tied
up in her mind with emotional, negative (and
non-existent) stereotypes of "the average Jew"
(canasta and Florida), does she base her
judgment on what is essentially an adolescent
She does not know Judaism’s intellectual
sophistication or its emotional satisfactions….
Silver Spring, Maryland
To THE EDITOR OF COMMENTARY:
I have been a more or less constant reader of
COMMENTARY for many years. I have often dis-
agreed with many things included therein, but
never have I come across a piece of writing
that was less deserving of publication in your
magazine than "The Break," by Dan Jacobson
As A picture of a kibbutz it is entirely and
patently false, and indeed slanderous of one of
the finest movements in contemporary Jewish
social life…. "The Break," far from being a
condemnation of kibbutz society . . . instead
merely condemns those products of the Anglo-
Saxon heritage who were so poisoned by the
anarchy and chaos in the intellectual and cul-
tural spheres, the rotting influence of material
acquisition, that they must forever be doomed
as a "Lost Generation," unable to find peace
and contentment in their daily lives either in
Paris, New York, or "Gesher Haziv"….
"The Break" is another albeit cruder example
of the new trend among Anglo-Saxon Zionists,
led by such illustrious figures as Maurice
Samuel, who in his book Level Sunlight states
that he will never consider full personal identifi-
cation with Israel, because he writes in English
and does not think it worth his while or even
possible to learn Hebrew equally proficiently.
… Arthur Koestler is perhaps the best example
of the logical conclusion of this trend, from
Zionist to the negation of Judaism….
DOODY COHEBN Kibbutz Gal-on
Doan Na-Chaf Ascalon Israel
Europe’s State of Mind