Neil Malhotra and Yotam Margalit writing in the Boston Review:
[I]f people associate corruption on Wall Street with Jewish financiers such as Madoff, what is the impact on their views about bailing out big business? ... [I]ndividuals explicitly told that Madoff is a Jewish-American were almost twice as likely to oppose the tax cuts to big business. Opposition to tax cuts for big business jumped from 10 percent among members of group one to over 17 percent among the members of group two, who were explicitly told about Madoff’s Jewish background. This difference is highly significant in statistical terms. The implicit information contained in Madoff’s charitable history also produced an aversion to big business, but to a lesser degree, with opposition to corporate tax breaks in this case increasing to 14 percent. ... Crises often have the potential to stoke fears and resentment, and the current economic collapse is likely no exception. Therefore, we must take heed of prejudice and bigotry that have already started to sink roots in the United States. The negative attitudes toward Jews reported here are not only dangerous in and of themselves, but they may also have bearings on national policy matters. The media ought to bear these findings in mind in their coverage of financial scandals such as the Madoff scam. In most cases, religious and ethnic affiliations have nothing to do with the subject at hand, and such references, explicit or implied, ought, then, to be avoided.Read it all here.
It would be interesting to see if similar results would obtain if the person of interest was Muslim, black, or gay. My priors are they would.
Should the media self censor when "religious and ethnic affiliations have nothing to do with the subject at hand"? Hasn't the Madoff case engendered a healthy public conversation about prejudice and bigotry in America?