I used to work at a law firm where I had difficulties with coworkers. I had my suspicions that anti-Semitism played some role in the problem. When I addressed my suspicions with others they were skeptical or scornful of my ideas. “Aren’t there other Jews in the firm?” “How can their behavior be motivated by anti-Semitism?”
These people seemed to be operating on the underlying assumption that envy and hatred negate positive feelings or even idealization, or that anti-Semites’ attitudes about Jews are uniform. I doubt that these assumptions hold.
I see an analogy. I think of the issues we find in man-hating women. Man haters do not hold all men in contempt. They have positive feelings about, and even idealize, men who are successful, powerful and rich. In assessing a weak or unsuccessful man their envy motivates them to think at some level, “If I had a penis I would know what to do with it.” Successful men and powerful men know what to do with their penis and inspire admiration in such women. It is all other men that they are contemptuous about.
Perhaps, the same dynamics apply with some anti-Semites. Perhaps they view Jewishness as conferring a gateway to success and wealth. At some level their envy and insecurity prompts them to think, “If I were Jewish, I would be especially successful.” Someone once said to me, “I envy Jews. I envy their success. They don’t have to work as hard as other people.” That’s what I call “Jewishness as a Gateway.”
It may be that my problem at Akin Gump was not simply that I was an underemployed attorney or that I was Jewish. It’s the combination of factors that was significant. I was a Jewish, underemployed attorney. I had Jewishness, but I didn’t know what to do with my Jewishness. I promoted envy in envious, insecure people.
Psychologically, I will have problems with envious, insecure people. And we know insecure people in groups do not appear insecure — their insecurities are masked by the narcissistic boost afforded by group membership.
As an underemployed, Jewish attorney who was a loner in a paranoid group with insecure people, I really had the deck stacked against me!