Two days ago the front page of the Wall Street Journal featured a story about Ford Motor Company. It discussed the expected new CEO, Mark Fields.
Predictably, the WSJ is a business publication, the focus of the article was Fields’ experience and likely challenges. It did not mention that he is Jewish.
Why does this detail matter?
Henry Ford, the founder of his eponymous company, was one of America’s most virulent anti-Semites. He despised Jews, publishing a hateful newspaper and blaming them for America’s social and economic problems.
His newspaper even published excerpts of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a horrific document that first appeared in nineteenth century Russia, then reappeared in Nazi Germany and recently has been republished in parts of the Arab world.
While Ford’s immediate successors did not share his hatred, the company did not have a Jewish officer until 1977. The company was—and in some circles still is—associated with an awful period in American Jewish history.
Now it will be led by a proudly Jewish chief executive officer.
At the risk of seeming melodramatic, I think we can all see in this decision the best of America. We are a country that strives, as Martin Luther King dreamed, to judge people not on the color of the skin but by the content of their character. To that we can all say Amen.