Jeri Zeder: How are people receiving your message that the “myth of silence” is just that, a myth?
Hasia Diner: It flies in the face of what they know… they often will say, “But I don’t remember it that way.” I think certain narratives about the past get planted in the public consciousness, and people in essence re-remember their own experiences in light of what seems to be the dominant motif.
J.Z.: As a historical matter, what do you think made scholars and other writers perpetuate the myth and actually believe it?
H.D.: The real answer is, that’s a subject that relates to American Jewish history following the period covered in my book; it requires further scholarship. But from my point of view, the myth of silence began in the late 1960s and was pioneered by young Jews involved in a thoroughgoing critique of American culture generally, and American Jewish culture in particular. Many of them went on to become academics, rabbis and community leaders, and repeated the same message in their public writings. What they said remained part of the historical record and was used as evidence by later historians.