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White Ethnic New YorkJews, Catholics, and the Shaping of Postwar Politics$
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Joshua M. Zeitz

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780807830956

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807872802_zeitz

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(p.89) 4 Fascism
White Ethnic New York

Joshua M. Zeitz

University of North Carolina Press

America was seen by the Catholic Church as a hierarchical and organic society and by Jewish religious leaders as the realization of individual freedom. This distinction was a common source of tensions between Catholics and Jews. Jewish New Yorkers believed that “fascist” conformity posed the greatest menace to democracy and that it violated the individual's sacred right to free conscience. In contrast, many Catholic New Yorkers viewed “Godless communism” as a threat to the delicate bonds of community and nation. This chapter examines the profound cultural discord that drove much of early Cold War politics in New York City. In particular, it shows how the city's Catholics and Jews viewed democracy in relation to communism and fascism by highlighting the political storm created by May Quinn, a seventh-grade social studies teacher from Brooklyn. The chapter also considers the Jews' support for United Nations-style internationalism and a fortified welfare state to counter European-style fascism, in contrast to Catholics' strong distrust of liberalism.

Keywords:   fascism, Catholics, Jews, democracy, communism, New York City, May Quinn, internationalism, welfare state, liberalism

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