Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/81

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75
ARE THE JEWS A "PURE RACE"?

the comparatively immune. That dietary scrupulousness has had nothing to do with lowering the mortality from tuberculosis, argues Dr. Fishberg, is proved by the fact that the Jews in Harlem, who have become more indifferent to dietary regulations, are less susceptible to the disease than the Jews on the East Side. Here we have a very palpable example of Dr. Fishberg's special pleading and his effort to support his thesis even at the expense of consistency. If it be true, as he says, that Jews become more addicted to alcoholism as they emerge from the Ghetto, and if alcoholism is one of the chief causes of susceptibility to tuberculosis, then why are not the Jews of Harlem, emancipated from the Ghetto and more alcoholic as they are, according to the author, more rather than less susceptible to tuberculosis than the Jews on the East Side?

When no other explanation than race, or habits governed by religious or moral ideas, occurs to him, Dr. Fishberg prefers to plead ignorance rather than admit the effectiveness of these causes. He grudgingly confirms, for example, the comparative immunity of Jews from cancer. The striking exemption of Jewish women, especially, from cancer of the uterus has been confirmed by many physicians and Dr. Fishberg also affirms it. As usual, race and diet have been offered as explanations. Dr. Fishberg refrains from presenting a counter explanation because of the meagerness of our knowledge of the nature of cancer, but dismisses without another word the explanations that have been suggested.

If ever one would be justified in looking to religious and moral peculiarities for causes, it would surely be when dealing with statistics of crime. The Jews, Dr. Fishberg argues, are not a racial unit. They are some sort of a unit, or Dr. Fishberg's book would be without a subject and without a title. Call them a religious community, then, although scattered over the whole world. It is hardly necessary to dwell upon the close relationship between Jewish religion and Jewish morals. The Ten Commandments, the preaching of the Prophets, the minute legislation of the Talmud, all are aimed at regulating conduct. Can we assume that the Jews have remained a religious community for so many centuries, bound together by loyalty to these moral maxims, incessantly rehearsing and teaching them, without an appreciable effect upon actual practise? Dr. Fishberg's position implies that we must make this assumption. The statistics of Jewish criminality in those countries where they have been kept are remarkable. In Hungary, for instance, in 1904, there was 10.5 times as much manslaughter, 9 times as much robbery, 7 times as much homicide, 6.3 times as much assault, 4.23 times as much arson, in proportion to their numbers by Christians as by Jews. Similar statistics are available from several other countries. On the other hand, more Jews than Christians were convicted of bankruptcy, duelling, usury, fraud, perjury and forgery.