To the Editor:
It is a pity that historical scholarship is so slow in reaching people outside of the academy. In his letter [November 1976], Lewis Kapner criticizes Milton Himmelfarb [“Carter and the Jews,” August 1976] for missing “the real concern many Jews have about Carter: his populist heritage which he still embraces.” And Mr. Kapner ends with a quotation from Richard Hofstadter linking populism and anti-Semitism. . . . [But] the whole idea of the populism of the 1890′s having been a major source of American anti-Semitism has long since undergone scrutiny and, I had thought at this late date, convincing refutation. See for example (this list is hardly exhaustive) C. Vann Woodward in the American Scholar (Winter 1959-1960); Norman Pollack in articles and a book (1960-62); my own book, The Tolerant Populists: Kansas Populism and Nativism . . . 1963); Gene Clanton’s book on Kansas (1969); . . . and, most recently, Lawrence Goodwyn’s Democratic Promise: The Populist Movement in America. . . . There is, and will continue to be, ample reason for seeking the historical roots of anti-Semitism in America. But fighting the wrong enemy will not win a war. . . .