Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Man of the People?

The Ivy League colleges were notorious for antisemitism and "Jewish quotas." Who knew that FDR was in the thick of things. Rafael Medoff in an op-ed in the LA Times states as a known fact that Roosevelt was instrumental in instituting Jewish quotas at Harvard. How firm is the evidence for this? I had never heard this before. I tried doing a Google search. It is certainly also stated as fact also here and here. Presidents are reflections of their times. One can consider, for example, the pluses and minuses in Dwight Eisenhower's record on civil rights, which almost certainly reflect his rearing in Kansas. John Kennedy engaged in cover-ups of health and personal issues that no President could get away with today. And Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton; well as we say in the South, bless their hearts. Nevertheless, I don't think it is appropriate to avoid discussion of these issues. All of the cites regarding Roosevelt above are attempting to understand how his personal views shaped his attitude towards stopping (or not stopping) the Holocaust. It's an important historical debate. When I attended CalTech, I learned how they missed the chance to have Albert Einstein as a permanent faculty member because of residual antisemitism among the leadership of the 1930s. That's not pretty. Having prejudices can be costly. Loving everyone without regard to their "group" is at the core of Jesus' teachings. But if that was hard for everyone from FDR to IKE and to the brilliant minds who ran CalTech, it's going to be hard for us all. Nobody should believe that Jesus' teachings are easy. His road is hard.

No comments: