Secular Right | Reality & Reason



Protestants like Israel; Midwesterners not so much

At The American Scene there’s a post about WASPs and their relationship to Israel. Of course, that begs the question, what do you mean by WASP? WASP = White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, but that is a plain and broad-church definition which many self-described WASPs might bristle at, as they self-identify as the scions of the Northeastern gentry. This highlights the reality that there are secret ethnic groups in the United States, ethnic groups which are discussed explicitly only in scholarship, for example Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America, but understood implicitly. George H. W. Bush is a WASP. Bill Clinton is a Southerner. Both are white and Protestant and of British ancestry. The type of “white people” which black comedians such as Dave Chappelle mock as without color are WASPs. George H. W. Bush. Not Bill Clinton.

In any case, I wanted to look at possible differences in attitudes toward Israel among American whites separated by region in the GSS. I limited the years to between 1988-1994 (this is the tail end of the survey question). The variable itself is “ISRAEL,” which asks:

You will notice that the boxes on this card go from the highest position of “plus 5” for a country which you like very much, to the lowest position of “minus 5” for a country you dislike very much. How far up the scale or how far down the scale would you rate the following countries? g. Israel

In the GSS I decided to look at “mean” score of each class. I recoded the regions so that I combined “Pacific” and “Mountain” into “West,” and simply aggregated the three Southern regions and the two Midwestern ones (you can see the Census regions here) The means are also generated from recoded variables, so that lower scores are pro-Israel, and higher scores are anti-Israel. The most pro-Israel score would be 0, and the most anti-Israel score would be 9. The bold are the means, while below them are the sample sizes. Finally, I limited the “Bible” variable to Protestants alone.




And here by ancestral origin & religion & region (again, for whites only):



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  • Clark · October 27, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    Wow. So the most pro-Israel are southern atheists? I’d never have called that.

  • Author comment by David Hume · October 27, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    well, the N is tiny ๐Ÿ™‚ i wouldn’t put much stock in that data point.

  • Spawn of Cthulhu · October 27, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    One Southern nonbeliever, pro-Israel, checking in. My local agnostic brethren seem to be much more hostile, though.

  • Susan · October 27, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    New Englander. Non-religious. Non-believer. “Cultural” Protestant. Israel supporter. Did I just screw up the demographic? ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Mike H · October 29, 2009 at 4:43 am

    It’d be interesting to show the ancestry results for Polish and Italians as well. In my personal experience I never dealt with any Americans who had an issue with Jews – except for white, ethnic Catholics from the Midwest. Is it possible that these are echoes of the traditional Catholic folk antipathy against Jews (christ killers etc.) and that modern anti-Israel views as promoted at major universities neatly play into that?

  • Jason · October 29, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    Well, if “the South” includes South Florida and religion=none includes the many ethnic Jews who are atheists, I imagine that would be a source of southern-atheist pro-Israel sentiment. Atlanta is similar source.

  • Author comment by David Hume · October 29, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    jason, i though thought too. but the ethnic breakdown of the southern nones does not suggest that they are of jewish origin (their ancestors are generally from the british isles, not poland or russia).

  • Ken · November 5, 2009 at 1:39 am

    Hey! I’m a southern pro-Israel atheist.

    I know a few others, too…



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