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The Tribe of the Wicked Son

- Abstract

No one knows how many Jews either belong to or actively support or lazily acquiesce in the attitudes of “the party of revolution,” as Walter Laqueur (p. 38) calls what in its contemporary American guise is better known by the more appropriate (because so evasively vague) name of The Movement. It is certain that most American Jews were always hostile to The Movement, both in its narrowly political guise as the New Left and in its general incarnation as the counter-culture. It is equally certain that a great many of the more visible leaders of The Movement are not now and never have been Jews. David Dellinger is not Jewish; Tom Hayden is not Jewish; Staughton Lynd is not Jewish; Carl Oglesby is not Jewish; Timothy Leary is not Jewish; Kate Millett is not Jewish; and neither, it somehow seems necessary to add, is Stokely Carmichael Jewish, nor Huey Newton, nor Angela Davis. I myself can testify from personal experience that in its early days The Movement was remarkable for, precisely, the paucity of Jews among its leaders and constituents alike. Around 1960 it had, I would say, a decidedly Protestant flavor, with its tone being set by divines like A. J. Muste and Martin Luther King, so much so that some of the small minority of Jews associated with it at the time, mindful of the importance of Jews in the radical movement of the 30′s, would often make self-conscious jokes about the wondrous Americanness of this new radicalism, the first indigenously American radical movement, it seemed, since the IWW and the Socialist party of Eugene Victor Debs.

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