Some of my best friends are Jews

Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Fri Jun 30 10:51:46 UTC 2000

On Thu, 29 Jun 2000, GEORGE THOMPSON wrote:

> When did the expression "some of my best friend are jews" come to be
> offered as the standard marker of a speaker who was at least
> marginally prejudiced.  (Or, the parallel "Some of my best friends
> are colored.")  Robert Gessner, a mentor of hers 60+ years ago,
> published a book with this title in 1936.  Given that its subject is
> anti-semitism in Europe of the time, I suppose that the title was
> taken ironically, that the expression was already recognized as
> usually leading to a "but . . . ."  She'd like confirmation.

The following citation seems confirmatory:

1936 _Economic Journal_ 46: 711  The initial declaration ... appears to
play the same role as the professional anti-Semite's prefatory announement
that some of his best friends are Jews.

Fred R. Shapiro                             Coeditor (with Jane Garry)
Associate Librarian for Public Services     TRIAL AND ERROR: AN OXFORD
  and Lecturer in Legal Research            ANTHOLOGY OF LEGAL STORIES
Yale Law School                             Oxford University Press, 1998
e-mail: fred.shapiro at               ISBN 0-19-509547-2

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