Commentary Magazine


“A Certain Anxiety”

To the Editor:

In “A Certain Anxiety” [Issues, August] Norman Podhoretz remarks that “. . . in America we find publications of the ideological Right like Alternative warning against and deploring the growth of anti-Semitism, while publications of the Left like the Village Voice blithely go on expressing or apologizing for anti-Semitic sentiments and ideas.” At one time, it might have been fair to characterize The Alternative as one of the “publications of the ideological Right,” but as the Age of Aquarius continues to reveal its mysteries . . . The Alternative‘s position is becoming less and less fixed.

The Alternative‘s writers, most of whom are students and young faculty members, now include people on the Left as well as the Right, liberals and conservatives, socialists and capitalists, not to mention the utterly uncategorizable. Today The Alternative does not demand ideological conformity of its writers (given the diversity and independence of its writers, The Alternative would not get such conformity even if it were to demand it). What The Alternative asks of its writers is intelligence, originality, and a sense of humor.

Although The Alternative often has been labeled a “conservative” or “right-wing” publication, it has attempted to uphold those liberal values—among them, democracy, freedom, tolerance, and civilized discourse—that many liberals have abandoned or, at least, failed to defend. Because it believes in those values, The Alternative will continue to expose and condemn anti-Semitism whenever it may appear and especially when it is advocated or condoned by people who claim to be working for “social justice,” “liberation,” or “a better world.” Such people are charlatans and scoundrels of the worst sort.

R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.
Terry M. Krieger

The Alternative
Bloomington, Indiana

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To the Editor:

. . . I believe that those . . . Jewish “leaders” who excoriate Jews for being concerned with Jewish matters, . . . who proclaim to the world that the Jews “have it made” and should direct their attention to the community at large . . . are afflicted with a disease which causes great harm to the vast majority of Jews. There are so many non-sectarian organizations which concern themselves with community affairs that I am bewildered as to why these so-called “leaders” choose to join Jewish organizations and then proceed to pervert their essence. . . .

Walter Cohen
Brooklyn, New York

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To the Editor:

I read Norman Podhoretz’s deeply-felt essay and can assure him that he is neither paranoid, reactionary, nor parochial.

First my credentials. I was born in America to parents who were Catholic, poor, Italian. I have been married for twenty-two years to the same woman. She is Jewish. We have two daughters, and I have more fear for them than even Mr. Podhoretz expressed. . . .

He is correct about anti-Semitism in the cultural field. I can speak for Italian-Americans, who, in private, say despicable things. They cannot understand that Italian-Americans do not support culture and so proceed to blame the Jews. . . .

As for black anti-Semitism, I saw plenty of that when I worked in the Department of Welfare. I could forgive the poor and disabled, but I have never forgiven staff members. They were all college graduates, and somehow when a person is educated you expect better of him. . . .

Lucas Longo
Brooklyn, New York

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To the Editor:

I feel that “A Certain Anxiety” can serve as a rallying cry for all thoughtful Jews who truly believe in the pluralist liberal democracy which is America, and who are prepared to assert and defend Jewish rights, interests, and freedoms within the framework of that democracy.

I was particularly impressed by Norman Podhoretz’s courage—as well as clarity of thought—in stating unequivocally that our present danger comes from the Left rather than from the Right.

The more serious critics of liberal thought have argued that the basic weakness of modern “liberalism” has been its unwillingness—and indeed its incapacity—to see danger from the Left while always being very sensitive, often excessively so, about noting danger from the Right. . . .

Jay Franklin
New York City

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To the Editor:

. . . The message of “A Certain Anxiety” is, if anything, overdue and I wonder why so many of our Jewish organizations . . . are unaware of the obvious danger to our people. They, as well as the intellectuals whom Norman Podhoretz mentions, are exacerbating our plight and our almost inevitable destiny in this great and tolerant country. A review of our tragic history would be a profitable and timely lesson to them.

Cecilia R. Gissen
New York City

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To the Editor:

. . . What Norman Podhoretz says should have been shouted from the rooftops long ago. I think it was Charles Angoff who quoted his old boss, H. L. Mencken, that “The Jews shout when they should keep quiet and keep quiet when they should shout from the rooftops.” . . .

Edward Ginsburg
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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To the Editor:

The Russian anti-Semites who attacked not Jews but “rootless cosmopolitans” have their enlightened counterparts among those who attack not Jews but “Zionists.” . . .

William Miller
Roselle, New Jersey

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To the Editor:

Norman Podhoretz expressed beautifully my own thoughts and fears. This country has been good to us—although there has been, and there still is, anti-Semitism here, it has not been of the virulent form and it has never been government-sponsored. . . . Nevertheless, I believe Israel is the only hope for all Jews. Had Israel existed in 1933, the one-third of our people who were murdered by the Germans, would, in my opinion, have lived. They died because Christian nations, including our own under Roosevelt, would not give them even temporary shelter. With few exceptions our 2,000-year-old history in Christian Europe has been one long experience of persecution and murder. . . . Thousands of years ago, a Jew said “If you are not for yourself, then who will be for you; if not now, when?”

Mrs. R. Kahn
Jamaica, New York

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