Monday, March 02, 2009


If you'd asked me, I would have said that there weren't people whiter than Mormons, but what do you know -- I would have been wrong. Know who's whiter than Mormons?

Seriously, guess. Guess and be wrong, like me. It's fun, almost as much fun as sitting in my living room in pajamas watching a foot of snow accumulate in my backyard. The weight of it is pushing a neighbor's tree over our fence and building higher and higher on our patio table and I'm taking bets on whether by the end of the day the two will touch.

Jews. Jews are whiter than Mormons; they are whiter than anyone in America, in fact. And the most racially diverse people in America are Muslims. This is historically relevant because it puts Jews and Muslims at loggerheads for the very first time.

But seriously, well done Muslims and well done Islam. There is virtue to being diverse. It is apparently not the virtue the lord intended for his so-called chosen people, but we will have to make do with what we have, I guess. Which reminds me of a funny story. A friend of mine recently confided that when she was young she liked watching and rewatching Yentl.

"You had a thing for Barbara Streisand?" I asked. She shrugged: "I like big noses."

We do have something in common though, you will be relieved to hear.
"The report also reveals that Muslim American women are one of the most highly educated female religious groups in the United States, second only to Jewish American women."
There. That's nice, isn't it? Those wacky Jewish American women also make more money than their female counterparts of other religions, and Jews overall are most likely of anyone to say they're thriving in America (56% -- the Mormons come in second at 51%, presumably because they have to cope with the backlash to Mitt Romney).

Yet Jews come in dead last when asked how important their religion is to their daily lives. Nope, not that important, thanks for asking. Somehow religion is a distinguishing characteristic -- generally in a good way, though I wouldn't call being the whitest people in America a positive -- and yet considered relatively unimportant. It's a fascinating cultural conundrum and I'm not sure what to make of it.


nathan said...

You'd think the combined cultural force of Twilight and Big Love would notch a couple extra percentage points for Mormons on the thrive-ometer.

Britta said...

Those sorts of demographics really irk me, because they assume a category "religion" is comparing apples to apples, when it really isn't. The only thing this shows is that, in 21st century America, the vast majority of Jews identify themselves as white. If you asked what percentage of Hindus identified themselves as of Indian ethnicity, or Shintoists of Japanese ethnicity, you'd probably get similarly high numbers. Judaism is both an ethnicity and a religion, indeed, one might say it is the religion of an ethnic group. Christianity and Islam, at the other extreme, are proselytizing religions which have 0 basis in ethnicity (though get incorporated into and identified with ethnicities/cultures through time, like the connection between Irish and Catholic, or Norwegian and Lutheran, or Arab and Muslim etc. though those links are mainly historical and not due to anything inherent in the religion. Anyone can convert quite easily to Catholicism or Islam.) So, I guess I don't really see what this is doing, except pointing out that a much more diverse group of people identify themselves as Muslim than as Jews, not super surprising. (sorry to rant on your lovely blog, it's just you see crap like this far more than you think you would, and I am in a sleep deprived ranty mood :)

ester said...

No, Britta, you're totally right and thanks for pointing that out.

It is really irritating, also, the way they don't define "white" -- I mean, for a long time, Jews weren't seen as white and I still think that to some people there probably remains a distinction.

Britta said...

That's definitely true. I mean, how can Jews be "whiter" than Mormons?? They're like mayonnaise on white bread!
(Whereas you on the other hand are more like mustard on pumpernickel ;)