Judging Jews in Zuckerman Bound
David Brauner

2 The trials of Nathan Zuckerman, or Jewry as jury: judging Jews in Zuckerman Bound ‘This is now the club they use on Jews – you the prosecutor, you the judge, you shall be judged, judged in every infraction to the millionth degree!’ (Roth 1986: 170) ‘For me the books count . . . where the writer incriminates himself.’ (Roth 1978: 139, italics in original) Writers always have a third eye that’s watching, a third ear that’s listening, a judge who seems to be working for the writer in you [.] (Roth quoted in Sarnoff 1992: 209) Trials, literal and metaphorical

in Philip Roth
Nathan Wolski

This chapter examines the relationship between the two key terms, frontier and resistance. It also examines the interdependence of these terms and explores some of the consequences while deconstructing these structuring concepts. The 1980s and 1990s saw some extraordinary progress in the field of Aboriginal history. The frontier was not that space in which European men confronted the naked land, but was the space in which Europeans confronted Aboriginal peoples across the field of battle. Aboriginal culture and Aboriginal people were to disappear, either by 'natural' death, by murder, or by abandoning their own culture. The chapter considers how the new conceptions of resistance force a rethinking of traditional ideas on frontiers, and argues that approaching frontiers as spatially and chronologically circumscribed units is no longer tenable.

in Colonial frontiers

Britain's Chief Rabbis were attempting to respond to the new religious climate, and deployed a variety of tactics to achieve their aims. This book presents a radical new interpretation of Britain's Chief Rabbis from Nathan Adler to Immanuel Jakobovits. It examines the theologies of the Chief Rabbis and seeks to reveal and explain their impact on the religious life of Anglo-Jewry. The book begins with the study of Nathan Marcus Adler, Chief Rabbi from 1845, and it then explores how in 1880 Hermann Adler became Delegate Chief Rabbi on his father's semi-retirement to Brighton. In the pre-modern era, and for a while after, rabbis saw themselves and were seen as the heirs of the rabbinic tradition, whose role first and foremost was to rule on matters of religious law. The book argues that the Chief Rabbis' response to modernity should be viewed in the context of Jewish religious responses that emerged following the Enlightenment and Emancipation. It sketches out a possible typology of those responses, so that Chief Rabbis can be placed in that context. Chief Rabbis were members of the acknowledgement school, which contained a number of different theological currents: romantic, scientific, aesthetic and nostalgic. Hermann Adler was the Chief Rabbi during his time, and his religious policies were to a great extent motivated by his religious ideas. Joseph Herman Hertz's theology placed him in the traditional group within the acknowledgement school, although he was influenced by its scientific, romantic and aesthetic branches.

Atheism, Race, and Civilization, 1850–1914

Race in a godless world is the first historical analysis of the racial views of atheists and freethinkers. It centers on Britain and the United States in the second half of the nineteenth century, a time when a popular atheist movement emerged and skepticism about the truth of Christianity became widespread, and when scientific racism developed and Western countries colonized much of the globe. The book covers racial and evolutionary science, imperialism in Africa and Asia, slavery and segregation in the United States, debates over immigration, and racial prejudice in theory and practice. The book’s central argument is that there was a constant tension throughout the period between, on the one hand, white atheists’ general acceptance that white, western civilization represented the pinnacle of human progress, and, on the other, their knowledge that these civilizations were so closely intertwined with Christianity. This led to a profound ambivalence about issues of racial and civilizational superiority. At times, white atheists assented to scientific racism and hierarchical conceptions of civilization; at others, they denounced racial prejudice and spoke favourably of non-white, non-western civilizations. As secularization continues and atheists move from the periphery to the mainstream, the book concludes by asking whether this pattern of ambivalence will continue in the future.

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The tangled histories of Christianity, secularization, and race
Nathan G. Alexander

This Introduction lays out the central argument of the book that white atheists and freethinkers were profoundly ambivalent about the question of race and civilization in their societies. On the one hand, they accepted racial science that seemed to show white superiority, but on the other, the fact that the majority of their countrymen were Christian made them question notions of white, western superiority. The Introduction also gives a background to the ways in which religion, secularization, and race have intersected historically. I then provide a summary of the freethought movements in both Britain and the United States. Finally, I give an outline of each chapter.

in Race in a Godless World
Atheism and polygenesis
Nathan G. Alexander

This chapter shows how a shared hostility to Christianity united white atheists and scientific racists in the nineteenth century. Crucial to this was the heretical doctrine of polygenesis, the idea that the various races of humanity had multiple origins instead of one single origin, as in the Christian doctrine of monogenesis. Polygenesis was a heretical theory that had both racial and theological implications. This theory gained scientific support by the middle of the nineteenth century among racial scientists, who argued that the races were innately different and could be ranked hierarchically. Atheists and freethinkers embraced polygenesis since it seemed to be the most accurate scientific explanation for the diversity of races, in contrast to the theory of monogenesis. More importantly, the theory seemed to deal a fatal blow to the creation account in Genesis and, with it, the entire foundation of Christianity. For this reason, many atheists often aligned themselves with irreligious scientific racists who posited vast differences between the various races.

in Race in a Godless World
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Race and society in evolution
Nathan G. Alexander

This chapter shows how the implications that evolutionary ideas held for thinking about race and society were far from straightforward. On the one hand, there were those who argued that evolution showed that all humans were related and that any racial differences between them were ultimately superficial in the vast expanse of evolutionary time. On the other hand, there were those who argued that races could be ranked in a hierarchy based on their evolutionary progress or that each race descended from its own unique ape ancestor. Evolution also shed light on the development of civilizations. The eighteenth-century idea that societies followed a linear course on the way to civilization fit well within an evolutionary worldview. Along with accepting the idea that white European civilization represented the apex of progress, other white atheists also gave a subversive reading of societal evolution in which religion itself was seen as a product of evolution, formed when humanity was in its “savage” state. In this view, Christians were really no better than their savage counterparts.

in Race in a Godless World
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Savagery and civilization
Nathan G. Alexander

In this chapter I show that there was considerable ambivalence about ideas of white, western superiority among atheists by examining the ways in which the so-called savage races – those in Africa, Australasia, and the Americas – appeared in their writing. Many white atheists found positives in these societies and even seemed, in some cases, to identify with them. The key link was a shared experience, among both atheists and savage groups, of persecution at the hands of more powerful Christians. Atheists recognized their own minority status and saw parallels between their own experience of persecution and the missionary and imperial incursions into savage societies. While white atheists and freethinkers were not opposed to imperialism per se, they were at least skeptical about the legitimacy of western society running roughshod over these groups. Because western civilization was so tied up with Christianity, atheists were not convinced of its inherent superiority over other cultures. Indeed, there were many positives to be found in these savage societies, including a more egalitarian social structure and a seeming lack of religion and belief in God.

in Race in a Godless World
India, China, and Japan
Nathan G. Alexander

This chapter analyses freethinkers’ views of India, China, and Japan. Far from constructing the people in these countries as others, atheists attempted to portray these groups as similar to themselves and to break down the supposed racial and civilizational boundaries between them. Atheists for the most part rejected common negative views of these countries. India and China, in their eyes, both possessed ancient civilizations and had equally ancient religious traditions that had much wisdom to impart to western audiences. Some aspects of the religions of the East, like Buddhism or Confucianism, seemed to reject the supernatural and be quasi-secularist already. It was because of this admiration for the civilizations of the East that so many white atheists and freethinkers opposed western incursions into these societies. This perspective also led many, though not all, atheists and freethinkers to oppose the movement to ban Chinese immigration into the United States.

in Race in a Godless World
African Americans and white atheists
Nathan G. Alexander

This chapter examines white atheists’ views of African Americans. Freethought newspapers often contained one-dimensional caricatures of black people as pious, superstitious, foolish, and immoral. These were the opposites of the traits on which white freethinkers prized themselves, and therefore the image of black Americans often acted as a mirror in which white freethinkers could clarify their own identities. Despite these negative depictions, however, on the whole white atheists attempted to portray themselves as free from racial prejudice and argued for equal rights and opportunities for all regardless of race. Yet not all white atheists held such optimistic views. An alternative discourse within freethought circles held that a rational and scientific approach showed the innate inferiority of blacks. This chapter wrestles once more with the competing demands of scientific rationalism, hostility to Christianity, and a commitment to equality that helped to inform white atheists’ racial views.

in Race in a Godless World