In some ways, the period after World War II felt like a Golden Age for American Jews. Appealing Jewish characters and entertainers gained wide popularity in film, theater and television; Jews entered professions that had been closed to them in record numbers, and one even ran for vice president on a major party ticket. In the aftermath of the Holocaust, overt antisemitism receded dramatically. Those of us who grew up in that era could easily have concluded that antisemitism would never again rear its head in this country.
Our parents and grandparents knew better. Many who grew up here had experienced bullying, housing discrimination, social ostracism, quotas and accusations of dual loyalty. Most remembered virulent, populist, antisemitic rhetoric from the likes of industrialist Henry Ford, aviator Charles Lindbergh and Catholic priest and populist leader Charles Coughlin (better known as Father Coughlin). Our immigrant and survivor forebears had experienced much worse.
Sadly, antisemitism is out in the open again in the United States. Its tropes have found fertile ground in public discourse.