A survey conducted by the Boston Review in its May/June issue shows that nearly 25% of American non-Jews blame “the Jews” a moderate amount or more for the financial crisis.
Furthermore, a total of 38.4% of the non-Jews in the U.S. attribute at least some level of blame to the group.
Possibly most significant of all were the subconscious anti-Semitic tendencies revealed based on the way the questions were phrased to different groups.
Neil Malhotra, Assistant Professor of Political Economy in the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University, and Dr. Yotam Margalit of Stanford University, conducted the study. It was part of a survey of 2,768 American adults exploring responses and anti-Semitic sentiments vis-à-vis the economic collapse.
They found that Democrats were significantly more prone to blaming Jews than Republicans: while 32% of Democrats accorded at least moderate blame, compared to only 18.4% of Republicans.
The researchers carried out a fascinating experiment in the course of the study. The goal was to see what happens when Wall Street corruption is explicitly associated with Jewish financiers such as Bernard Madoff; would that affect people’s views on bailing out big business?
To address this question, they randomly assigned national survey participants to one of three groups. All three were prompted with a one-paragraph news report that briefly described the Madoff scandal, and were then asked their views about providing government tax breaks to big business in order to spur job creation.
The text of the paragraph about Madoff had slight differences for the three groups: The first group was told that Madoff is an “American investor” who contributed to “educational charities,” the second group was told that he is a “Jewish-American investor” who contributed to “educational charities,” and the third group was told that Madoff is an “American investor” who contributed to “Jewish educational charities.”
The findings were “revealing and disturbing,” the researchers wrote. Those people who were told explicitly that Madoff is Jewish were almost twice as likely to oppose the tax cuts to big business. While only 10% those who were given no information about his Jewishness said they opposed tax cuts for big business, over 17% of those who were told that Madoff is Jewish opposed the gestures to big business. “This difference is highly significant in statistical terms,” the researchers conclude.
To complete the picture, the “middle” group – those who were told that Madoff was an American who gave to Jewish charities – produced a 14% opposition rate.
When Jewish respondents were assigned to the three groups, they had “the exact same policy preferences in all three groups,” wrote Margalit and Malhotra. Nor were there any differences between the groups on other proposals that did not deal with the business sector, but rather with federal support for state governments or with tax breaks for the middle class.
The researchers noted that the greater tendency among Democrats than Republicans to blame Jews is “somewhat surprising, given the presumed higher degree of racial tolerance among liberals, and the fact that Jews are a central part of the Democratic Party’s electoral coalition.
Sorting the results according to level of education provided another interesting finding: 18.3% of those with at least a bachelor’s degree blamed the Jews a moderate amount or more, while 27.3% of those lacking a 4-year degree did so. Yet, these numbers were basically reversed – as they were in the case of the Democrats and Republicans - when asked about the culpability of individuals who took out loans they could not afford.
“Crises often have the potential to stoke fears and resentment,” the researchers conclude, “and the current economic collapse is likely no exception. Therefore, we must take heed of prejudice and bigotry that have already started to sink roots in the United States… The media ought to bear these findings in mind in their coverage of financial scandals such as the Madoff scam. In most cases, religious and ethnic affiliations have nothing to do with the subject at hand, and such references, explicit or implied, ought, then, to be avoided.”