The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg and Other Stories HTML version

Concerning The Jews
Some months ago I published a magazine article[1] descriptive of a remarkable scene in
the Imperial Parliament in Vienna. Since then I have received from Jews in America
several letters of inquiry. They were difficult letters to answer, for they were not very
definite. But at last I have received a definite one. It is from a lawyer, and he really asks
the questions which the other writers probably believed they were asking. By help of this
text I will do the best I can to publicly answer this correspondent, and also the others--at
the same time apologising for having failed to reply privately. The lawyer's letter reads as
'I have read "Stirring Times in Austria." One point in particular is of vital import to not a
few thousand people, including myself, being a point about which I have often wanted to
address a question to some disinterested person. The show of military force in the
Austrian Parliament, which precipitated the riots, was not introduced by any Jew. No Jew
was a member of that body. No Jewish question was involved in the Ausgleich or in the
language proposition. No Jew was insulting anybody. In short, no Jew was doing any
mischief toward anybody whatsoever. In fact, the Jews were the only ones of the nineteen
different races in Austria which did not have a party--they are absolute non-participants.
Yet in your article you say that in the rioting which followed, all classes of people were
unanimous only on one thing, viz., in being against the Jews. Now, will you kindly tell
me why, in your judgment, the Jews have thus ever been, and are even now, in these days
of supposed intelligence, the butt of baseless, vicious animosities? I dare say that for
centuries there has been no more quiet, undisturbing, and well-behaving citizen, as a
class, than that same Jew. It seems to me that ignorance and fanaticism cannot alone
account for these horrible and unjust persecutions.
'Tell me, therefore, from your vantage point of cold view, what in your mind is the cause.
Can American Jews do anything to correct it either in America or abroad? Will it ever
come to an end? Will a Jew be permitted to live honestly, decently, and peaceably like
the rest of mankind? What has become of the Golden Rule?'
I will begin by saying that if I thought myself prejudiced against the Jew, I should hold it
fairest to leave this subject to a person not crippled in that way. But I think I have no such
prejudice. A few years ago a Jew observed to me that there was no uncourteous reference
to his people in my books, and asked how it happened. It happened because the
disposition was lacking. I am quite sure that (bar one) I have no race prejudices, and I
think I have no colour prejudices nor caste prejudices nor creed prejudices. Indeed, I
know it. I can stand any society. All that I care to know is that a man is a human being--
that is enough for me; he can't be any worse. I have no special regard for Satan; but I can
at least claim that I have no prejudice against him. It may even be that I lean a little his
way, on account of his not having a fair show. All religions issue Bibles against him, and
say the most injurious things about him, but we never hear his side. We have none but the
evidence for the prosecution, and yet we have rendered the verdict. To my mind, this is
irregular. It is un-English; it is un-American; it is French. Without this precedent Dreyfus