“ENDING WHITE PRIVILEGE STARTS WITH ENDING JEWISH PRIVILEGE,” screams a flyer distributed on the Chicago campus of the University of Illinois. Based on distorted statistics—which the alleged source, a Pew survey, firmly rejects—the subtext seems to be that what we really should be ending are the Jews.
The flyer falsely alleges that 44 percent of Jewish Americans are in the top 1 percent of earners. The threshold for being in the top 1 percent is $465,626, and while perhaps 44 percent of Jewish Americans would like to have achieved that distinction, they haven’t. The flyer’s authors mangled the real fact that 44 percent of Jewish Americans earn more than $100,000 a year.
Although foreign-born Muslims have not yet achieved a similar financial success level, they are far more likely to be found in the over-$50,00-a-year bracket than are native-born Americans. No small part of their success comes from Southeast Asian Muslims, largely Pakistani. But don’t expect their success to be distributed on a circular for scorn.
Indeed, Southeast Asian Muslim immigrants’ success will be touted on campus as worthy of emulating while Jews’ success is something to revile. Pakistanis are known to value education and go into the professions. They abound in medicine, comprising between 2.7 and 5 percent of physicians and high-paying technical fields. They also bring an entrepreneurial spirit. Sound familiar?
Rather than commend Jewish success as something to aspire to, the authors of the flyer view it with contempt because in their demented Marxist view of the world, all gain is ill-gotten and a function of privilege, not a combination of gray matter, hard work, and a willingness to take risks.
Hard Work Isn’t Privilege
Yesterday, I visited a 94-year-old friend. He was born in Shanghai, where his family was one of 20 Jewish families who lived there. He spent his earlier adult years behind barbed wire in a Japanese internment camp. Shortly after the war, he came to San Francisco with the clothes on his back, a suitcase, $25 in his pocket, and a letter of introduction to anyone who would bother to read it, attesting to his good character.
He never embraced the role of victim, nor let his life be defined by having been a prisoner of the Japanese. Decades later, he gained a reputation for his conservative and skilled investment acumen. He became a financial adviser to some of Asia’s wealthiest families, started a successful export/import bank, and has owned a variety of businesses.
Was this a consequence of “Jewish privilege,” or his hard work and intelligence? His formal education ended in the second year of high school, but in contrast to the likely college students who designed the flyer, he had no trouble reading numbers.
Of course, his story was repeated by millions of immigrants of all nations who came to America not to proclaim their victimhood but to find opportunity. The larger world still values their success despite what is taught on college campuses, where all gain represents the few exploiting the many.
Intersectionality Is Breeding Anti-Semitism
The flyer reflects the ideology of anti-Israel student groups and their leftist allies who seek “intersectionality,” the common bond of all “oppressed people.” This ideology brings together Muslims who love Sharia and its denigration of women, and rabid feminists who see their problems as a consequence of male privilege. Yes, politics does make for strange bed companions.
Intersectionality has resulted in an upsurge of anti-Semitism. Whether it is support for the Jew-bashing Israel Apartheid Week or the campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions against the one democracy in the Middle East, these initiatives are thinly disguised anti-Semitic hate fests. Whenever they occur there is a surge in physical and verbal attacks on Jewish students.
So, it is not surprising that just days after the first flyer was distributed, a second one appeared, this one focused on denying the Holocaust. Like the Iranian government, which is always denying the first Holocaust but actively promising a second, both flyers’ tropes threaten Jewish existence.
The larger issue is not the flyers or even their threat to Jews. The issue is that the flyers reflect a dominant ideology that is inculcated on campuses to a captive audience in frequently required classes that resemble the Workmen’s Circle of early Marxism. These courses teach that all gain, except that achieved by oppressed classes, is ill gotten.
In Middle East studies courses, Israel is seen as the one illegitimate state in the world, a last bastion of British imperialism. Obviously, the professors who teach this do not recall that Britain supported the Arabs in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence.
Canards such as “Jews control the media and Hollywood” are commonplace among leftist professors who spoon-feed their own ideology rather than facts. If professors were teaching that slavery is a benign institution that benefited blacks, there would be such public outcry that universities would not be able to open their doors. But about Jews, almost anything can be said with impunity.
The issue of the flyers is less that they are the product of the twisted minds of some brainwashed students, but that they are the logical outcome of what is taught on our campuses.