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Henry Ford and the Jewish Question Part 1

Henry Ford and the Jewish Question Part 1

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Published by: 10131 on Mar 25, 2013
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Henry Ford and the Jewish Question
Henry Ford and the Jews:The Mass Production of Hate  Neil Baldwin New York: Public Affairs, 2001$27.50 US416 pp.The International Jew:The World's Foremost ProblemHenry FordDearborn, MI: Dearborn Independent, 1920-1921416 pp.Reviewed by Kevin MacDonald
Part I: The Education of a MidwesternIndustrialist
 Neil Baldwin’s book on Henry Ford begins bysketching the “McGuffeyland” world of Ford’schildhood — a world of courageous, honest,abstemious, hard-working boys. Ford’s belovedmother read the McGuffey readers to her favorite son,and in his adult life Ford became an avid collector notonly of McGuffey first editions but of other 
 
Americana as well. This bespeaks Ford’s strongidentification with the mid-western culture of hisyouth, and, in Baldwin’s view, that is a big part of the problem, because part of that mid-western culture wasa subtle anti-Semitism. The McGuffey readerscontained passages from
The Merchant of Venice
inwhich Shylock is described as an “inhuman wretch,incapable of pity,” a man filled with irrational hatredfor the Christian Antonio. Baldwin implies that givensuch a culture, it is a small step to Ford’s “mass production of hate.”Beginning in 1881, this perceived idyllic Anglo-Saxonculture of Ford’s youth began to be invaded by a waveof Eastern European Jewish immigrants. This provided an additional impetus to anti-Jewish feelings,culminating in the immigration restriction legislationof 1924. In Baldwin’s view, the nativism andxenophobia of the period werethe results of the compulsion to find a“stereotyped other” against whom endangeredChristians could measure themselves. In thestrange, nervous netherworld blurring the end of one century and the beginning of the next, withthe American economy continuing to suffer  bewildering fluctuations and booms followed bydepressions, there was a vague sense that unseen,hidden, and irrational ‘market forces’ weredetermining the course of personal destiny.Christian identity was under siege in the rapidly
 
changing modern Promised Land. “The Jew wasconveniently at hand,” enabling the character of early-modern racism in America to be formed onthe notion that people who were “different” could be actual instruments of change and thereforecould be held accountable for otherwiseinexplicable trends in the culture of modernity.Once that blame was affixed, antisemites hadlatched upon a real reason to criticize, contain, or even control the Jews. (pp. 34–35)Baldwin thus proposes that Ford’s anti-Jewish animusderives from the need for a scapegoat upon which to blame all disapproved forms of modernism. As istypical of writing on such topics these days, there is nohonest assessment of the extent to which Jews were infact responsible for the changes deplored by Ford andhis ilk. Instead, Baldwin traces the anti-Jewish tenor of the series of newspaper articles on Jewish issuessponsored by Ford and published as
The International  Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem
, solely to “athousand-year continuum of Jew hatred, thick taprootssunk deep into the archetypal, richly poisoned soil of medievalism. ” (p. 106)Medieval, religious Jew-hatred evolved intomodern anti-semitism . . . They should berecognized as different factors within the sametradition. Both passions are infused with a pathological requisite to find someone to
resent 
(p. 107).

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