Samples Racism Is Racism and Anti-Semitism Still a Problem in the United States?

Is Racism and Anti-Semitism Still a Problem in the United States?

1501 words 6 page(s)

Many Americans, particularly in the northern states, naively believe that racism and anti-Semitism is a thing of the past. Particularly, most people regard racism and anti-Semitism as an ignorant and archaic proclivity that fell away from American Culture in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Unfortunately, these people would be shocked to know that racism and anti-Semitism are alive and well in the United States, and closer to home than they might think. The question that might linger on the minds of more enlightened Americans is how racism and anti-Semitism continue to persist in the 21st century, as cultural and racial differences seem to be disappearing. Additionally, one might wonder how such thoughts and behavior persist despite the fact that most American’s would never condone or tolerate blatant racism or anti-Semitism. In order to truly understand the continued existence of racism and anti-Semitism in the United States, it is first important to analyze how these damaging belief systems and behaviors fit into the history of the nation. This will be followed by a brief discussion of the degree to which racism and anti-Semitism still exist in U.S. society today.

History of Racism and Anti-Semitism
The roots of racism in the world links back to the mid 15th century with the advent of the futile system in Western Europe. In 90 year period that followed, Africans become enslaved, the burning of women as witches began, Jews were expelled from Spain and segregated into ghettos and non-white cultures were exterminated in this hemisphere (Lester, 2000). By the time America was discovered and European explorers and settlers began to make the journey to the new world, racism and anti-Semitism was deeply embedded into the culture. As the new British colonies began to grow and prosper, African slaves were brought in to help with the establishment and maintenance of crops, buildings and other types of manual labor. These slaves were typically regarded by their masters and society as a whole as property rather than people. Any perceived value in a slave was associated with the slave’s ability to perform necessary duties rather than the value of their mind and humanity. These sentiments continued and were amplified as a result of Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which essentially freed all slaves in the United States. Many Americans, in the Southern States in particular, were extremely angry and resentful about being forced to relinquish ownership of their slaves, essentially viewing this action as losing property and money. As a result, a deep and lasting racial hatred grew among white Americans with regards to African Americans and former slaves, particularly in the South. Black’s were typically treated as second-class citizens, not being allowed to vote, obtain certain jobs, live in certain areas, go to certain schools, or even eat at the same lunch counter as whites. The Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s helped to change all this, effectively ensuring black Americans, and other ethnic groups, the same rights as whites.

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Aside from the horrors of the Holocaust, anti-Semitism has always been something that happened behind closed doors, hidden from society. This quite type of anti-Semitism prevailed during the early years of the 1900’s and up until the middle of the 20th century (Sarna & Golden, 2000). Interestingly, the onset of World War II and the discovery of massive acts of Genocide perpetrated against Jews in Europe by Nazi Germany dramatically changed Jewish sentiment in the United States. Mainstream America began to regard Jewish Americans as equal members of society with a somewhat different religion and belief system. At the same time, the end of World War II also brought the birth of white Supremist groups in the United States that shared beliefs similar to that of the Nazi party, including the intense hatred for Jews.

Does It Still Exist
Racism and anti-Semitism are not intrinsic to human nature, but rather, are a product of history, the result of decisions made in the course of human events (Lester, 2000). As such, many Americans refuse to believe that such ideals persist in the new millennium, and consider such beliefs and ideals to be held by the irrational and uneducated. For these people, it would be comforting to believe that the Holocaust, the most extreme expression of racism, had its sources in irrationality with roots in the farthest reaches of insanity (Lester, 2000). Unfortunately, there this could not be further from the case as the executioners, the active and passive ones, were rational men and rational women acting rationally (Lester, 2000). Perhaps the continued evolution of American culture has helped to reduce the amount of open and blatant actions fueled by racist or anti-Semitic sentiment. Despite this, the increased condemnation of racism and anti-Semitism in American society has simply resulted in such beliefs and ideals being driven underground, where subversion and insurrection reign supreme. The following sections with summarize racism and anti-Semitism as it exists today within American society.

There are a number of areas within the United States where racism exists in the United States. Some examples of the prevailing racist beliefs that continue to permeate the U.S. culture include, beliefs that African-Americans are more violent than white Americans, ultimately committing more crimes, most blacks “milk the system” and live off of welfare, blacks deal drugs and black Americans are illiterate and uneducated (Ferrey, 2013). Many of these perceptions are quite false. The reality is that the American criminal justice system has been proven to be flawed and racially biased (Ferrey, 2013). Additionally, statistics show that more white Americans are recipients of welfare than black Americans. Ultimately, racism is typically not practiced or discussed as brazen as it was prior to 1970. As a result, racism has become somewhat of a “hidden” issue today, even in well-known cities across our nation (Ferrey, 2013). Despite this, racism does in fact occur, and the impact of it continues to affect African American citizens, as well as other ethnic minority groups such as Latinos, Indians and Asians.

Despite blatant racism discussed previously, many Americans have gone their entire life without encountering or witnessing anti-Semitism in action. Anti-Semitism has always received less media and public attention than other forms of racism, yet anti-Semitism represents the longest lasting form of racism in world history. The quietness of how it persists may cause some to believe that anti-Semitic sentiments are on the decline. Unfortunately, recent polls of Americans on this subject reveal the truth is quite the contrary. Specifically, a 2011ADL poll revealed that nearly 35 million Americans, equal to 15% of the population, harbor deep anti-Semitic views and beliefs, which is actually a 3% increase since 2009 (Daily Mail Reporter, 2011). This rise in anti-Sentiment is believed to be linked to the recent economic crisis and the long held perceptions about Jews holding disproportionate amounts of financial and business power. Essentially, it was found that in times of high unemployment and economic distress, age-old myths about Jews and money and Jewish power in business endure, with a surprising number of Americans agreed with sharply worded criticisms of Jews (Daily Mail Reporter, 2011). Although this may indicate that anti-Semitic sentiment should decrease as the economy improves, the fact remains that the economy is a volatile system with continuing ups and downs. As such, it is easy to believe that anti-Semitism is something that will continue to persist to some degree in American society.

In order to truly understand the continued existence of racism and anti-Semitism in the United States, it is first important to analyze how these damaging belief systems and behaviors fit into the history of the nation, as well as the degree to which racism and anti-Semitism still exist in U.S. society today. This review of racism and anti-Semitism in American history, as well as its role in today’s society has revealed that such damaging beliefs continue to plague American culture. Some racist views have been determined to by as a result of economic change and increases in economic hardship, while others have been shown to be deep-seeded and permeate the entire country, such as the fundamentally biased criminal justice system against African Americans. Based on this analysis, it is clear that racism and anti-Semitism are alive and well in the United States, albeit not as prevalent or boldly exercised as it was in past decades. Any American’s who think otherwise, are seriously kidding themselves, or incredibly naïve.

  • Daily Mail Reporter. (2011, November 4). ADL poll finds Anti-Semitism attitudes on rise in America. Retrieved from Mail Online Web site:
  • Ferrey, J. (2013, May 24). Racism in America: Racism is a disease that needs to be cured. Retrieved from CBS Charlotte Web site:
  • Lester, J. (2000). Racism, anti-semitism and the concept of evil. Retrieved from University of Massachusetts Amherst:
  • Sarna, J., & Golden, J. (2000, October). The American Jewish experience in the twentieth century: Anti-semitism and assimilation. Retrieved from TeachServe Web Site:

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