Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 193
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 193
 
business. He is not always choice in method; he often offends. He crowds to the front in everything, no matter whom he crowds out. The land is filled with his clamor. “If the East Side would shut its mouth and the West Side get off the saloon corner, we could get somewhere,” said a weary philanthropist to me the other day, and made me laugh, for I knew what he meant. But the Jew heeds it not. He knows what he wants and he gets it. He succeeds. He is the yeast of any slum, if given time. If it will not let him go, it must rise with him. The charity managers in London said it, when we looked through their slums some years ago, “The Jews have renovated Whitechapel.” I, for one, am a firm believer in this Jew, and in his boy. Ignorant they are, but with a thirst for knowledge that surmounts any barrier. The boy takes all the prizes in the school. His comrades sneer that he will not fight. Neither will he when there is nothing to be gained by it. Yet, in defence of his rights, there is in all the world no such fighter he. Literally, he will die fighting, by inches, too, from starvation. Witness his strikes. I believe that, should the time come when the country needs fighting men, the son of the despised immigrant Jew will resurrect on American soil, the first that bade him welcome, the old Maccabee type, and set an example for all the rest of us to follow.

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