I am Jewish. Not much of a Jew by religious standards, but most assuredly a Jew nonetheless. God and I have an understanding, and we’re cool with it. But to the outside world, or as Jews of my generation had beaten into us during our youth, when Hitler comes, you will be at the head of the line. I got the message.
Anne brings us statistics that shock me. I admit that I did not realize how others felt below the surface. I work regularly with black and Hispanic lawyers and clients, and don’t think much different of them than I think of anyone else. They aren’t colors, but people. Some are smarter than others. Some are nicer than others. They are whoever they are. Now I wonder: What am I to them?
Here’s the details:
[T]he survey asked . . . whether respondents agreed with a list of “index” questions. Here is the percent of respondents who said each of the following statements is “probably true”:
- 50% say Jews stick together more than other Americans.
- 32% say Jews always like to be at the head of things.
- 33% say Jews are more loyal to Israel than America.
- 15% say Jews have too much power in the U.S. today.
- 17% say Jews have too much control and influence on Wall Street.
- 19% say Jews have too much power in the business world.
- 15% say Jews have a lot of irritating faults.
- 15% say Jews are more willing than others to use shady practices to get what they want.
- 15% say Jewish business people are so shrewd that others don’t have a fair chance at competition.
- 12% say Jews don’t care what happens to anyone but their own kind.
- 12% say Jews are not just as honest as other businesspeople.
Fourteen percent of respondents said that six or more of these statements were probably true, making them “unquestionably anti-Semitic” as the ADL defines that term. That number is down from 17% in 2002.
They [the ADL] did find that negative Jewish stereotypes were highest among people 65 and older (24%, twice the rate of any younger group), African-Americans (36%), and Hispanics, especially those born outside the U.S. (29% and 35% respectively).
This study relates to jurors perception of Jewish lawyers. Anne’s point was to show that a jury attributed better qualities to a lawyer who was obviously of Irish descent than a lawyer who was obviously Jewish. This is a problem.
In New York City, there are a lot of Jewish lawyers. There are also a lot of black and Hispanic jurors. Are we doing our clients a disservice by representing them? Is my religion yet another hurdle that they have to get over to receive justice at the hands of a jury?
In the past weeks, we’ve posted about that Icon of Conservative Love, Ann Coulter, and her desire to “perfect” me, as well as my reaction to the over-intellectualization of Coulter’s mumbling. (Note: Anne saw this as my view that she wasn’t worth my attention. I apologize for being so unclear. My point was that Ann Coulter was unworthy of such overblown analysis by others who sought a deeper understanding of Coulter’s purpose. There was nothing deep, in my view, about it, and she is unworthy of in-depth analysis).
Then, just yesterday, a local fixture, Nobel prize winner James Watson, denigrated an entire continent because of their skin color. If you’ve read anything by Dr. Watson, you will know that he’s a science maniac (I was going to use the word “nazi”, but changed my mind). Jim Watson believes that ethics, political correctness, and all the penumbras that go along, interfere with proper analytical consideration and are destructive to scientific advancement. He believes in science untainted by sentimentalism. This is, in my view, both intellectually honest from a scientific-purist perspective, but dangerous. Very dangerous.
Applying Dr. Watson’s purist approach to Anne’s statistical revelation, Jewish lawyers are in a bad place. If we are to put our clients’ interests ahead of our own, as we are sworn to do, then our duty seems clear. We must not appear before juries on behalf of a client. By simple virtue of our appearance, in our full Jewishness, we add to the burden our clients face, making their circumstances worse and adding to the likelihood of their conviction because of juror bias.
On the other hand, I’ve had clients of color come to my officer and tell me that they are there because they want a “Jew lawyer.” It always makes me chuckle, as if my being Jewish gave them a leg up. When I would ask them why, just for sport, they would tell me it was because Jews were smart, and they wanted a smart lawyer. I admit, I didn’t inform them otherwise.
When I try a case, I never consider what role, if any, my religion plays. Now I must. But it’s unclear to me what to do about it, since I don’t know if there is anything I can do about it.