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Concerning Mark Twain’s Opinion on the Jews

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Who cares what Mark Twain’s opinion on the Jews was? I don’t, so why do so many, many people care? And why are they medayek in every shtickle Twain to see how they can reconcile the parts where they put down Jews with the parts where they praise them?

Mark TwainAish, as well as the pedophile Shmuel Waldman in his book Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, seem to revel in the fact that Mark Twain recognized the Jew’s uniqueness. It’s a pathetic sight to see them spill so much ink over the question of Mark Twain’s opinion on Jews.

So can we get a show of hands? How many of you have read the entire essay Concerning the Jews? Beyond the standard trope that the Jew has outlived the Egyptian, the Babylonian, the Roman etc. has anyone read the rest of it? I don’t think you’d satisfy yourself with reading the last three paragraphs of Huckleberry Finn and skip the part about the King and Duke getting tar and feathered, would you? Neither should you deny yourself the pleasure of reading the entire essay. Take, for example, this:

The Jew is not a burden on the charities of the state nor of the city; these could cease from their functions without affecting him.”

This was on the “credit side” of Twain’s equation.

Then there’s this:

“I call to mind Genesis, chapter xlvii. We have all thoughtfully – or unthoughtfully – read the pathetic story of the years of plenty and the years of famine in Egypt, and how Joseph, with that opportunity, made a corner in broken hearts, and the crusts of the poor, and human liberty – a corner whereby he took a nation’s money all away, to the last penny; took a nation’s livestock all away, to the last hoof; took a nation’s land away, to the last acre; then took the nation itself, buying it for bread, man by man, woman by woman, child by child, till all were slaves; a corner which took everything, left nothing; a corner so stupendous that, by comparison with it, the most gigantic corners in subsequent history are but baby things, for it dealt in hundreds of millions of bushels, and its profits were reckonable by hundreds of millions of dollars, and it was a disaster so crushing that its effects have not wholly disappeared from Egypt to-day, more than three thousand years after the event.

Is it presumable that the eye of Egypt was upon Joseph the foreign Jew all this time? I think it likely. Was it friendly? We must doubt it. Was Joseph establishing a character for his race which would survive long in Egypt? and in time would his name come to be familiarly used to express that character – like Shylock’s? It is hardly to be doubted.”

And finally there’s this from his notebook on his trip to the Middle East:

“We are glad to have seen Egypt. We are glad to have seen that old land which taught Greece her letters — and through Greece, Rome — and through Rome, the world — that venerable cradle of culture and refinement which could have humanized and civilized the Children of Israel, but allowed them to depart out of her borders savages — those Children whom we still revere, still love, and whose sad shortcomings we still excuse — not because they were savages, but because they were the chosen savages of God.”

So I say that if you care about famous people’s opinion on Jews, find someone less insightful and honest than Mark Twain to draw your sagging national pride from.

Find out more about Mark Twain, Aish and Jews on 4torah.com

  • south bend

    “The Jew is not a burden on the charities of the state nor of the city” Boy have times changed. Every yid in lakewood has their hand out with WIC, EBT cards and section 8 and sucking off the government teet!

  • SDK

    I love that man. He’s a fantastic essayist.

    • A. Nuran

      Get a copy of his book “A Pen Warmed Up in H**l: Mark Twain in Protest”

      • Shragi

        I never heard of this collection, although I did read each of the pieces that in it in other collections. I think I’m gonna get it though, it’s good to have all of Twain’s caustic denunciations of injustice in one place.

        Have you seen the article where he viciously attacked the French for the Dreyfus affair?

        • A. Nuran

          Yep and yep.

  • avi

    “find someone less insightful and honest than Mark Twain”
    Really? Blaming egypt’s welfare in the 19th century and antisemitism throughout history on joseph is the poster child of southern ignorance and racism

    • Shragi

      Is Mark Twain’s opinion that Joseph’s actions had a very long-lasting effect on Egypt the result of racism? I don’t think so, I don’t see Twain displaying racism anywhere. Certainly the ArtScroll authors mentioned above don’t think so; they think Mark Twain thought very highly of Jews.

      But to say that he was ignorant? The man who wrote 3 very accurate historical novels – A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, The Prince and the Pauper and Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc is ignorant? The man who wrote philosophical treatises such as Concerning the Recent Carnival of Crime in Connecticut, The Turning Point of My Life, The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg, Extracts from Adam’s Diary etc. etc. is ignorant?