A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 23, 2015
“Some of my best friends are Jews”

"Some of my best friends are...” has been a popular meme for over 100 years. While the speaker is not that type of person, he or she has friends of that type. Therefore, any criticism that the speaker makes is—according to the speaker—simply fact-based and not discriminatory.

“Some of my best friends are among Democrats” was said in 1880 and “Some of my best friends are Democrats” was said in 1904. “Some of my best friends are Republicans” was said in 1908.

“Some of my best friends are Jews” was said in 1909. “Some of My Best Friends Are --’ The experience of a Jew among Gentiles” by Montague Glass, published in The American Magazine in January 1918, made the saying famous (or infamous). The book Some of My Best Friends Are Jews by Robert Gessner was published in 1936.

“Some of my best friends are Catholic” and “some of my best friends are black” and “some of my best friends are gay” are other popular forms of the saying. Some of My Best Friends Are... (1971) was a film about a group of gay men and lesbians in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village.


22 October 1880, The Daily Republican (Decatur, IL), pg. 2, col. 4:
“I (Ulysses S. Grant—ed.) would not say anything, if I could help it, that should be offensive to any Democrat who might be present. I like Democrats. Some of my best friends are among Democrats, but I think for a time they should be satisfied with letting the Republican party rule this Government, at least until they can give better assurances than any they have given that they would run it in the same way for the interests of all classes and all sections.”

27 October 1904, Jacksonville (IL) Daily Journal, “Grand Ovation,” pg. 2, col. 3:
“Some of my best friends are Democrats and if they differ from me it is all right. I am against their doctrines, not the men.”
(Charles W. Fairbanks, U.S. Senator from Indiana.—ed.)

21 October 1908, Indianapolis (IN) Star, “Cockran Keeps Date,” pg. 3, col. 1:
“I do not mean to say that all Republicans are plunderers, because some of my best friends are Republicans, but I do know that there is a tendency on the part of many to be misled by colored phrases.”
(Bourke Cockran, New York Congressman.—ed.)

25 January 1909, Boston (MA) , “"Dr. Johnson Preaches In Jewish Synagogue,” pg. 12, col. 1:
“Some of my best friends are Jews, and in spite of the misunderstanding that exists, there is a spirit of friendship which I can see.”
(Rev. Herbert S. Johnson of the Warren Avenue Baptist Church.—ed.)

Google Books
January 1918, The American Magazine, pg. 16:
“Some of My Best Friends Are --”
The experience of a Jew among Gentiles

By MONTAGUE GLASS

Chronicling America
14 September 1920, New York (NY) Tribune, “New Comedy Owes A Large Debt To George Sidney” by Heywood Broun, pg. 10, col. 3:
The play deals with the story of a Jewish storekeeper who comes to a small New England town and not only lives down the prejudice of the community but sets all the inhabitants to saying, “Some of my best friends are Jews.”
(Welcome Stranger by Aaron Hoffman.—ed.)

The Crimson (Harvard University)
“Some of My Best Friends Are at Harvard”
Published On Wednesday, April 27, 1921 12:00 AM
The sincere and magnanimous sentiments voiced by Heywood Broun re Harvard appreciation of the Eli, should receive the hearty commendation of every advocate of “Big Three” amity. And it is to further this move for mutual friendship and understanding between these intellectual centers that I perpetrate this eulogy. Some of my best friends are at Harvard, and on that account I want to correct certain false impressions about these collegians.
(...)
I repeat it: some of my best friends are at Harvard. They are Princetonian studying in the graduate schools. And one of the chief reasons why they are my friends is because they join me in a daily even-song: “To Hell With Harvard!” --Campus Critic, In The Daily Princetonian.

May 1921, Vanity Fair, pg. 61:
Some of My Best Friends Are Yale Men
By Heywood Broun

12 November 1921, The Independent and the Weekly Review (New York, NY), book review by Edmund Lester Pearson, pg. 166:
Mr. Heywood Broun’s sense of humor is all but perfect. (...) But, with this entirely human exception, his writings as represented, say, by his “Seeing Things at Night” (Harcourt, Brace) strike me as invariably amusing, good-humored, and readable. He must be loved if only for his paper called “Some of My Best Friends Are Yale Men.” It required not only originality but daring for a New York newspaper man to begin to break down the aged tradition that while Harvard is given to effeminacy and spat, Yale is the nursery of sturdy American democracy. Mr. Broun pointed out to New York newspapers that an athletic victory by Harvard cannot always be set aside by the Supreme Court on the ground that Yale was not looking when it happened.

Google Books
You Gentiles
By Maurice Samuel
New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace & Company
1924
Pg. 128:
There is nothing inconsistent in the anti-Semite who says: “Some of my best friends are Jews.”

Google News Archive
9 August 1928, Reading (PA) Eagle, “Would Debate Smith in Two Churches” (AP), pg. 1, col. 4:
“Understand I am not a foe of the Catholics,” the pastor continued. “Some of my dearest friends are Catholics. I am conducting a one-man fight on Gov. Smith’s public record, not on his religion or his character. There is nothing I have against him personally.”
(Rev. Dr. John Roach Straton, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, on the presidential candidacy of New York Governor Al Smith.—ed.)

10 March 1933, New York (NY) Times, “Sports of the Times” by John Kiernan, pg. 22:
“And as for Yale,” said the Princetonian loftily, “it’s a nice place. Some of my best friends are Yale men.”

29 January 1934, New York (NY) Times, “Sports of the Times” by John Kiernan, pg. 20:
“Bob Quinn is a fine fellow and some of my best friends are Brooklynites.”

OCLC WorldCat record
Some of my best friends are Jews
Author: Robert Gessner
Publisher: New York : Farrar & Rinehart, ©1936.
Edition/Format: Print book : English
Database: WorldCat
Summary:
An account of the author’s travels in England, Paris, Germany, Poland, Palestine and soviet Russia to study anti-Semitism

OCLC WorldCat record
Some of my best friends are soldiers, a kind of novel.
Author: Margaret Halsey
Publisher: New York, Simon and Schuster, 1944.
Edition/Format: Print book : Fiction : English

OCLC WorldCat record
Some of My Best Friends are Scientists
Author: F Barrows Colton
Edition/Format: Article Article : English
Publication: The Scientific Monthly, v69 n3 (19490901): 156-160
Database: JSTOR Life Sciences Collection

OCLC WorldCat record
Some of my best friends are professors; a critical commentary on higher education.
Author: George Guion Williams
Publisher: New York, Abelard-Schuman [1958]
Edition/Format: Print book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
Some of My Best Friends Are Peasants
Author: Oscar Lewis
Edition/Format: Article Article : English
Publication: Human Organization, v19 n4 (196012): 179-184
Database: CrossRef

OCLC WorldCat record
Some of my best friends are Southerners
Author: George A Gulette
Publisher: Atlanta, Ga. : Southern Regional Council, 1961.
Edition/Format: Print book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
Some of my best friends are people.
Author: Art Moger
Publisher: Boston, Challenge Press [1964]
Edition/Format: Print book : English : [1st ed.]

OCLC WorldCat record
Some of my best friends are left-handed people: an investigation into the history of left-handedness.
Author: Michael Barsley
Publisher: Hollywood, Calif., Wilshire Book Co., 1968.
Edition/Format: Print book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
Some of my best friends are white.
Author: British Broadcasting Corporation.; Peter M. Robeck & Company.
Publisher: London, British Broadcasting Corp., Released in the U.S. by Peter M. Robeck & Co., 1968.
Edition/Format: Film : Film Visual material : English

Wikipedia: Some of My Best Friends Are...
Some of My Best Friends Are... is a 1971 drama film written and directed by Mervyn Nelson.

Plot
On Christmas Eve 1971 in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, a group of gay men and lesbians meet at the Blue Jay Bar to talk about their lives and relationships.

OCLC WorldCat record
Some of my best friends are Christians
Author: Zola Levitt
Publisher: Glendale, Calif. : G/L Regal Books, ©1978.
Edition/Format: Print book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
Some of my best friends are Muslim
Author: Kay Ellmers; Kate Peacocke; Pio Terei; AKA Productions.
Publisher: Auckland, N.Z. : AKA Productions, [2004?].
Edition/Format: Video Visual material : English
Database: WorldCat
Summary:
Documentary made for TV with interviews of Muslim people living in New Zealand.

Urban Dictionary
some of my best friends are
Something prejudiced people say when they’re called out on their prejudice. Smacks of tokenism and hypocrisy.
Person A: You can’t trust those goddamn crackers.
Person B: Don’t be prejudiced against white people.
Person A: Don’t get me wrong, some of my best friends are crackers.

by null device January 21, 2007

OCLC WorldCat record
Some of my best friends are Black : the strange story of integration in America
Author: Tanner Colby
Publisher: New York : Viking, 2012.
Edition/Format: Print book : Biography : English
Database: WorldCat
Summary:
This work chronicles America’s troubling relationship with race through four interrelated stories: the transformation of a once-racist Birmingham school system; a Kansas City neighborhood’s fight against housing discrimination; the curious racial divide of the Madison Avenue ad world; and a Louisiana Catholic parish’s forty-year effort to build an integrated church. An exploration of race relations, this book offers a portrait of race in America. In a book that is part reportage, part history, part social commentary, the author explores why the civil rights movement ultimately produced such little true integration in schools, neighborhoods, offices, and churches, the very places where social change needed to unfold. Weaving together the personal, intimate stories of everyday people, black and white, he reveals the strange, sordid history of what was supposed to be the end of Jim Crow, but turned out to be more of the same with no name. He shows us how far we have come in our journey to leave mistrust and anger behind, and how far all of us have left to go.

Twitter
J.J. Abrams—Some of My Best Friends Are Black Stormtroopers
TMZ
Published on Dec 5, 2014
“Star Wars” director J.J. Abrams did his best to kick up more ‘Black Stormtrooper’ debates by hanging out with the guy at the center of it ... like they were Obi-Wan and Luke back in the day.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Wednesday, December 23, 2015 • Permalink