Race and Ethnicity Despite Its Term Paper

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The Jews for example assume anti-Semitism where this is not necessarily the case, whereas many of the local people accuse the Jews of wanting to take over the town by buying the slaughterhouse. In both cases the accusations are neither true nor realistic. Both groups close their eyes for their own faults and focus only on the perceived flaws in the other. Ironically, this works to the detriment of both. The conflict situation is allowed to escalate to a point where the townspeople are willing to give up the lucrative fortune generated by the Jews just for the sake of being rid of them. The Jews in turn would lose the opportunity to make their share of the profit as well, and everyone loses.

The issue thus puzzling to me is one of tolerance. America is supposedly the "Mecca of religious tolerance" as Bloom (p. 15) terms it. Why then is it so difficult for everyone to accomplish in reality? America is also the land of opportunity, where everyone's dreams can come true. The Jews coming to Postville provided a priceless opportunity for the local people, as well as for themselves. Nonetheless they defeat this opportunity through their own cold attitude, while from the side of the people the opportunity is lost through their own unrealistic paranoia.

Perhaps it is a matter of overly enthusiastic pride in one's own heritage. The Jews who came to the town are extremely religious. This leads them to a number of paradigms not necessarily in keeping with the American ideal of tolerance and equality. The way in which women are treated, for example, is oppressive and cruel from the point-of-view of western culture, but perfectly acceptable to the Jewish. On the other hand, the Jews are unable to accept that other cultures may be as viable as theirs, and thus lose the opportunity to learn and to keep what is useful.
When cultures meet, it appears, there is usually a clash before learning takes place. This could be due to the above-mentioned issue of pride and a false sense of superiority. Yet learning does take place, and I believe it would be much less painful if the clash did not occur in the first place. Instead, enlightened persons such as Cliff Olson and Schlome should be allowed to take leadership positions in their various cultures. Any culture that claims for itself the tolerance of others should be willing to repay this in kind.

It is tragic when racial conflict to such an extreme degree is seen in a country that stands for the exact opposite of racism and other forms of discrimination. Human traits such as cultural pride are important in order to preserve one's ethnic identity. Yet this cannot be allowed to take the upper hand and become a superiority complex. Cultures do indeed differ in levels of income, education and property. Yet, especially in the United States, each culture has a rich variety of elements that can be shared and learned from. In this way cultures achieve equality in terms of self-knowledge and self-respect, rather than a false sense of superiority in their concept of self, while others are criticized as inferior.

Bibliography

Bernstein, Richard (2000). "Books of the Times; Hasidim and Iowa Townsfolk: A Test of Diversity." The New York Times, November 3. http://www.uiowa.edu/~journal/faculty/bloom/review_nytimes.html

Bloom, Stephen. "Postville: A Clash of Cultures." Speech Notes.

Rothenburg, P. (2004) Race, Class, and Gender in the United….....

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