Who’s Superstitious?

"Who's Superstitious?" Commentary, November 1948.


Outside, breathing in the gasoline-scented air of Central Park, I closed my eyes and bid nostalgic farewell to a world that knew not the redeeming truths of biology. Where Jews wore payes and garbardine coats and looked Jewish. Where Japanese ate rice with chopsticks and spoke Japanese (real Japanese, which is not just like American only different). Where Negroes had dark skins. Where Jewish girls looked, occasionally, like Molly Picon and were likely to be named Ruth or Rachel. Where scientific anthropology had not yet proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that everyone is exactly like everyone else, despite appearances. And where the only rule that told people how to behave was that superstitious old saw: “Love thy fellow man as thyself”—even if he is different, even if he is very different, and even if we don’t know.

We have progressed mightily since those primitive days.

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