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Labor Action, 20 June 1949


Tom Conley

Book Review

How Secure These Rights?
Examines Types of Race Prejudice


From Labor Action, Vol. 13 No. 25, 20 June 1949, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


HOW SECURE THESE RIGHTS? Anti-Semitism in the United States in 1948
by Ruth G. Weintraub
published by Doubleday & Company, Garden City, N.Y., 1949, $2.00.

Miss Weintraub’s book, How Secure These Rights, is the report of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith on anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination in the United States during 1948. In order to describe and to assess the patterns of discrimination, the fields of education, housing, social organizations and employment were examined. Having made the examination, Miss Weintraub concludes that in the struggle for civil rights “the year 1948 should go down on the credit side of the ledger.”

Miss Weintraub’s social bookkeeping seems impeccable. Nevertheless, if the year 1948 can be placed on the credit side of the ledger, then a year on the debit side means that the struggle for civil rights is So low that those waging the struggle must reach up to touch bottom. For in the field with least discrimination, the field of employment, almost half (47.1 per cent) of those interviewed state that they prefer not to work with one or more of these kinds of people: Negro, Mexican, Filipino, Chinese, Jew, Italian and Catholic.

Since the prejudices generating discrimination are of three types: religious, national and racial, a single person can be discriminated against for one or all these types of prejudice. Consequently, the ugly patterns of discrimination are as confused as the prejudices that generate them are despicable.

Labor Cleanest

The attorney general’s list of subversive organizations also appears to be the product of vicious prejudice. Not only is an official subversive list an insult, since it implies that the American people are politically stupid as well as politically irresponsible, but, what is particularly relevant, Miss Weintraub points out that the Department of Justice “has not yet included in its list of subversive groups any of Gerald Smith’s organizations, the Association of Georgia Klans, and other such groups.”

Those interviewed about their preference in working with other people were selected from these occupational groups: farm, housewife, professional and executive, white collar, and labor. Discrimination is greatest (58.8 per cent) on the farm and least (36.4 per cent) among labor.

In other words, the closer a person works to the machinery of industry, the less is his prejudice about religions, nations and races. And, since education proves not only to be a miserable failure in eradicating these types of prejudice but actually to encourage them, especially the prejudice against the Jew, there can be only one conclusion: labor is the great school for democracy.

Though encouraging, this conclusion should not be overestimated. For it must not be forgotten that the degree of prejudice within the ranks of labor is over 33⅓ per cent, a degree too great to give much comfort. In other words, the conclusion does little more than indicate where the power to meet and to control the problem of discriminating is to be found.

As the best method for meeting and controlling the problem of discrimination, Miss Weintraub emphasizes political action, urging that the moment is favorable for FEPC legislation on a national as well as a local scale. That the book was written shortly after the Truman presidential victory confounded public and private opinion, at a time when labor and liberal considered legislative prospects to be excellent, may account for her unwarranted optimism about the possibility of immediate political action. Even so, Miss Weintraub’s recommendation still remains plausible, but not without the independent political action of labor.

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