Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/83

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77
ARE THE JEWS A "PURE RACE"?

than isolation by which races acquire peculiar characters? The Jews of remote antiquity seem to have had characters sufficiently peculiar to cause themselves to be known as Jews. How did they get those characters? Was any thing but isolation ever the cause of such peculiarities? How did the American Indians, the Anglo-Saxons, the Ethiopians get their peculiar characters? Does Dr. Fishberg imagine they inherited them in an uninterrupted line of descent from a primordial group or pair that had them since first there were men on earth?

It could easily be shown that there is as much diversity of religion among the modern Jews as of physical type. If we followed Dr. Fishberg's method we could prove that the Jews are neither a race nor a religious community. And yet what have historians been talking about when they have written about the Jews? To what have the Jews, if we may still use the term, been loyal all these centuries? And to what shall be ascribed that Hebraic influence of which writers as diverse as Matthew Arnold and Nietzsche speak with confident appreciation or reprobation?

Dr. Fishberg seems to think that in presenting evidence tending to show that the Jews are not a pure race, he has provided the most deadly possible reply against those who dream of reconstituting the Jews as a nation. If the Jews are not a race, if all their peculiarities vanish as soon as you change their economic status, then it is folly with such material to undertake any work of reconstruction. The Jews are an evanescent phenomenon, and we shall be wise if we gracefully acquiesce in their disappearance. As if men interested in the welfare of their kind ever troubled themselves about such metaphysical entities as Dr. Fishberg's "pure race"! His contention that the Jews are not a pure race has no point. It makes no difference whether they are or not, since the only so-called pure races are a few small groups like the Basques and the Esquimaux, which, through long isolation, have attained a high degree of homogeneity—at least to European eyes. "Pure races" are anthropological postulates, like the atoms of physicists, which serve a scientific purpose but never can be brought in to decide practical questions of politics or engineering. Dr. Fishberg tries to use the conception of a "pure race" in such an illegitimate manner. In his eagerness he falls repeatedly, as we have seen, into inconsistencies unbecoming, to say the least, in a scientific work. After a candid perusal of it, one has to declare in true Irish fashion that the arguments do not prove that the Jews are not a pure race, and even if they did, it would make no practical difference to any one or any thing.