Fans of H.P. Lovecraft are familiar with the cycle of sonnets titled “Fungi from Yuggoth.” “Yuggoth” is the planet of Pluto, by now downgraded to a dwarf planet. The fungi are the Mi-Go, a crab-shaped race that makes a second appearance in “The Whisperer in Darkness.” These fungal beings, the Mi-Go, send many expeditions to Earth, yet furtively keep to themselves, never assimilating with the flora and fauna of the host planet.
Are we, American Jews, a form of alien fungal being? Some of us are exactly that, I believe.
Can There Be an American Alien?
First, let us condcuct an investigation into the alien component.
What does it mean to be an alien in America? Are we not, by definition, a credal nation where alienhood is impossible? A land of no “blood and soil” nationalism, only diversity, multi-culturalism, and a salad bar of identities? Post-modernists, cultural Marxists, and revisionists would like us to believe that. Traditionally, however, Americans have perceived themselves to be a culturally cohesive nation. Here is John Jay in Federalist #2:
“With equal pleasure I have as often taken notice that Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people–a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence.”
Meaning, Jay deemed his fellow Americans as heirs to a common culture. Which culture? Clearly, that which came with the settlers from the British Isles, the civilization we typically identify as Anglo-Saxon.
And here is Theodore Roosevelt in his famous 1915 speech to the Knights of Columbus:
“The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of its continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities, an intricate knot of German-Americans, Irish-Americans, English-Americans, French-Americans, Scandinavian-Americans or Italian-Americans, each preserving its separate nationality, each at heart feeling more sympathy with Europeans of that nationality, than with the other citizens of the American Republic. The men who do not become Americans and nothing else are hyphenated Americans; and there ought to be no room for them in this country. The man who calls himself an American citizen and who yet shows by his actions that he is primarily the citizen of a foreign land, plays a thoroughly mischievous part in the life of our body politic. He has no place here; and the sooner he returns to the land to which he feels his real heart-allegiance, the better it will be for every good American. There is no such thing as a hyphenated American who is a good American. The only man who is a good American is the man who is an American and nothing else.”
And so, while Roosevelt recognizes that America transcends any former European nationality, he sees America as an integrated nation, not a multi-cultural “boarding house for the world,” as he had elsewhere commented. Indeed, he rejects any notion of hyphenation so common nowadays and demands one flag, one allegiance, and one nation.
Finally, here is H.P. Lovecraft offering a synthesis of Jay’s Anglo-Saxonism and Roosevelt’s one-nationism:
“Most dangerous and fallacious of the several misconceptions of Americanism is that of the so-called “melting-pot” of races and traditions. It is true that this country has received a vast influx of non-English immigrants who come hither to enjoy without hardship the liberties which our British ancestors carved out in toil and bloodshed… But, from this it does not follow that a mixture of really alien blood or ideas has accomplished or can accomplish anything but harm. […] Immigration cannot, perhaps, be cut off altogether, but it should be understood that aliens who choose America as their residence must accept the prevailing language and culture as their own; and neither try to modify our institutions, nor to keep alive their own in our midst. We must not, as the greatest man of our age declared, suffer this nation to become a ‘polyglot boarding house.'”
For Lovecraft, the American culture that all should assimilate into is Anglo-Saxonism – unbound and unleashed on the extended scale of the North American continent. It is into that specific culture with its specific traditions and institutions that he expects immigrants to blend.
My point then is to demonstrate that remaining an alien in America is not an impossible state at all. In fact, as Lovecraft and Roosevelt had observed during their own era of high immigration levels, alienhood is the undesired failure to assimilate into the integrated American culture.
Do American Jews Display Alien Traits?
I believe this question translates to something like “do Jews diverge from the general American culture or ethos?”
This is not a study of Jewish history in America, but it might be beneficial to outline a general timeline: Prior to the mid-19th-century, Jews had numbered only about 15,000 in America. They were mostly of German, Dutch, and Portuguese origins. By and large, these Jews, while keeping to some of their religious traditions, were highly assimilated. Later on, in the 1850s, more Jews arrived in the US, mostly from Germany. These Jews followed the ever-expanding frontiers, with many settling in the Midwest, creating key businesses in service of the pioneers.
And then the flood gates opened in the late 19th century. The age of steam and coal (rendering ocean voyage cheaper and much safer) coupled with the rising persecution of Jews in Eastern Europe, had brought about 2 million Jews to America by 1924. These numbers, dwarfing anything that had come before them, consisted mostly of Yiddish-speaking Jews from Western Russia and Eastern Europe. The ancestors of the bulk of American Jews nowadays, these Jews remained mostly in the large cities of the East Coast, primarily New York. Rather than chasing opportunities in the heartland, they crowded like beached sardines in the garment and textile industry of New York.
These late arrivals, characterized by Henry Adams as “furtive Isaacs and Jacobs,” have taken longer to assimilate and perhaps are not even completely assimilated now. It is interesting to compare the Jews from Eastern Europe to other groups that washed upon the American shores at about the same time, such as the Italians. While an Italian name, Cuomo or Guiliani, is not a predictor of its bearer’s political beliefs, a name like Epstein or Rosenstein is.
Indeed, looking at Pew’s “Portrait of American Jews” a rather monolithic image emerges: 70% of Jews define themselves as Democrats. 54% of Jews appear to support “bigger government,” by comparison with only 37% of Protestants.
Moreover, the comparison to other religious denominations might not be fair: Only 19% of Jews believe that observing Jewish law (also known as practicing traditional Judaism) is essential to their Jewish identity while 56% believe that “working towards social justice” is essential. Meaning, Judaism in America transcends the Jewish faith and has largely become a political denomination.
This is much in line with Norman Podehoretz’s conclusion in his seminal book “Why Are Jews Liberals?” But for our purposes here, it does demonstrate a Jewish divergence from all other groups that washed on our shores in the 19th century. Jews (of the non-Orthodox kind) have retained a strong unifying political identity, rather than assimilating into the American average.
Is This Good or Bad?
A full philosophical inquiry is beyond the scope of this piece, but given the name of our website, “The Hebrew Conservative,” we naturally adhere to cohesive notions of nationhood. We find Jews’ lack of assimilation and their retention of a competing political framework (even an anti-American framework), to be regrettable.
Indeed, the Jewish hordes from Eastern Europe, like fungi, do take on a corrosive nature through incessant support of “progressive” causes. Causes which are ever aimed at weakening, dismantling, and challenging the traditional values and self-recognition of America. The JCPA, an organization presuming to represent all Jewish denominations, dedicates a press release after another to the worship of progressive shibboleths such as “racial equity” and “systemic racism,” yet no condemnations are ever offered against the chaos, looting, rioting, and property damage inflicted on ordinary Americans in the name of social justice bacchanals.
Almost every organization in this rather comprehensive list of Jewish American organizations (with the noted exception of Orthodox organizations) includes a genuflection to Wokery on its website: A little bit of “diversity,” some “equity,” and a gentle sprinkle of “reproductive rights.”
Unlike various anti-semitic publications, this website does not believe the traits described here are zoologically endemic to us as Jews. Indeed, at least 30% of us in America, and practically all of us in Israel, do not display the tendencies to repudiate and dismantle our homeland. Sadly, however, as Jews and conservatives, we must recognize the fungal, Mi-Go nature of many of our tribe’s members, especially here in America. Iä! Iä!