“Entrenched anti-Semitic views” very rare among whites and Asian Americans, common among blacks and Latinos

February 19, 2014

According this article, ADL surveys show that “approximately 12 percent of Americans hold deeply entrenched anti-Semitic views.” However, over 30% of African Americans and Latinos hold such views. Given that they are almost 30% of the population, this suggests that of the 12% of Americans who hold deeply entrenched anti-Semitic views, 9% or so are African Americans or Latinos. This means, in turn, of the 70% or so of the population that is not African American or Latino, only 3% hold deeply entrenched anti-Semitic views. Put another way, less than 5% of whites, Asians, and “others” (including Native Americans) combined hold deeply entrenched anti-Semitic views, compared to over 30% of African Americans and Latinos–or at least that’s the difference in percentages of those willing to express anti-Semitic attitudes to pollsters. Regardless, it seems odd given these numbers that Jews seem especially concerned about mostly phantom anti-Semitism emanating from white evangelical Christians, while being less concerned about anti-Semitism in core Democratic constituencies. But, as Ilya pointed out a few years back, “many studies show that people tend to devalue or ignore any information that makes their political adversaries look good, while overvaluing anything that looks bad.”

The article adds: “[Retiring ADL President Abe] Foxman attributes the persistence of anti-Semitism among African-Americans to denial of the problem and a dearth of black leaders speaking out against anti-Semitism. Among Latinos, the attitudes are seen as a holdover from Latin America, where traditional Catholic anti-Semitism persists and anti-Semitic attitudes are higher than in America. Once they acculturate to the United States, Latino anti-Semitism declines: Among first-generation immigrants, about 40 percent hold anti-Semitic attitudes; among those born here, the number falls to 20 percent. ”

UPDATE: A reader points me to the most recent ADL survey, from 2013, which shows a lower rate of black (22%) and Latino (36% foreign-born, 14% native-born) anti-Semitism than the article states.  The 2011 data comes closer to matching the author’s assertion, but the overall figure there was not 12% but 15% overall, and 29% (not over 30%) for African Americans and 42 and 20% for foreign and native-born Latinos, respectively.  The rates for whites were 8% and 9% in 2013 and 2011.  So I’m not sure if the author is looking at different data, or just got his facts wrong.  Nevertheless, the basic point, that “entrenched anti-Semitic views” are far more common among African Americans and Latinos than among others, still holds.

David Bernstein is the George Mason University Foundation Professor at the George Mason University School of Law in Arlington, VA. He is the author of Rehabilitating Lochner: Defending Individual Rights Against Progressive Reform (2011); You Can't Say That! The Growing Threat to Civil Liberties from Antidiscrimination Laws (2003);
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