Continuing on Jean-Paul Sartre's Anti-Semite and Jew: An Exploration of the Etiology of Hate (1946) and "Black Orpheus" (1948).
We move into the latter half of the book, which deals with the Jews themselves. Though Sartre stresses that inauthenticity is more common among the majority protestant population of France, the persecuted Jews are not immune, and their persecuted status tempts them to forms of inauthenticity that exacerbate their persecution. For instance, if a Jew tries to hide his Judaism, he just (in the anti-Semite's mind) confirms anti-Semitism: he's a self-hating Jew, so there must be some reason to hate Jews. Another example from Sartre: Because a Jew has been denied by anti-semitism the intangible native "ownership" of France and its privileges, he might be extra ambitious or avaricious so as to literally own more of France and to make his way into high society. The anti-semite points at this and says "see, Jews are greedy and are weaseling their way into positions of power."
This is not of course to justify the anti-semitism, and as the first half of the book established, there's no logical argument from the behavior of (what Sartre calls) inauthentic Jews to pernicious anti-semitic claims. But Sartre sees these behaviors by some Jews as fundamentally reactive: they involve letting the anti-Semite into your head to (at least in part) determine your life's goals.
What is an "authentic" reaction to persecution? Sartre thinks that to be authentic, the Jew should live his full condition as a Jew, not deny or seek to escape it. This means political solidarity with other Jews (e.g. via the Jewish League), and Sartre also supported Zionism as an option. On the level of social policy, Sartre thought that we can't and shouldn't just "whitewash" the persecution and declare that everyone is the same, with the same rights and privileges, that we live in a post-racial society. Instead, Sartre recommends a "concrete liberalism" that respects individuals not just qua individuals but qua members of oppressed groups. What does this mean? Reparations? Affirmative action? He doesn't get into those practical details in this essay (and likely those options weren't on the table at the time), and we have some trouble figuring out what this means on a practical level.
The discussion starts with Part One. Part Three will deal with "Black Orpheus," which deals similar issues of authenticity in the face of oppression through an introduction to a book of poetry by black, French-speaking poets. You needn't wait; get the Citizen Edition now. Please support PEL! Tickets are still available for PEL Live on 4/6!
Tickets are still available for PEL Live on 4/6!