Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mark Twain: Concerning the Jews, 1898

Mark Twain: Concerning the Jews,
Harper's Magazine, March, 1898

When he is well enough, he works; when he is incapacitated, his own people take care of him. And not in a poor and stingy way, but with a fine and large benevolence. His race is entitled to be called the most benevolent of all the races of men. A Jewish beggar is not impossible, perhaps; such a thing may exist, but there are few men that can say they have seen that spectacle.

The charitable institutions of the Jews are supported by Jewish money, and amply. The Jews make no noise about it; it is done quietly; they do not nag and pester and harass us for contributions; they give us peace, and set us an example.
An example which we have not found ourselves able to follow; for by nature we are not free givers, and have to be patiently and persistently hunted down, in the interest of the unfortunate.
By his make and ways, he is substantially a foreigner wherever he may be, and even the angels dislike a foreigner.

But you were the favorites of Heaven originally; and your manifold and unfair prosperities convince me, that you have crowded back into that snug place again.
To conclude:

If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one per cent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of star-dust, lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly the Jew ought hardly to be heard of; but he is heard of, has always been heard of.

He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance, is extravagantly out of proportion, to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world's list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning, are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers.

He has made a marvelous fight in this world, in all the ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it.
The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone.
Other peoples have also sprung up, and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out; and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, and beat them all.

And is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind.

All things are mortal, but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?