...Cecil Beaton was an anti-semite. Or, at least, there was an incident. I don't know enough about his life and personality to know whether- when he smuggled a anti-semitic insult into a Vogue cartoon- he was just echoing the fashionable trash-talk of his age or drawing on something deeper. A lot of the art of the first half of the 20th century is infected by anti-semitism.
Allen Ginsberg visited Ezra Pound in old age and recorded Pound's apology for his big mistake- his embrace of "that stupid, suburban prejudice of anti-semitism". Ginsberg offered and Pound accepted forgiveness. By the time he wrote about it Ginsberg was the only living witness to this transaction- and we may question how much of it- if any of it- ever really happened. Perhaps it was a parable. We may also ask on whose authority Ginsberg was licensed to offer and give a blessing (as Rodger Kamenetz does in the poem published here.)
Pound was a virulent anti-semite but largely managed to keep his anti-semitism out of his poetry. T.S. Eliot, less virulent, wrote anti-semitic poems that have entered the canon. The appearance of anti-semitism in what is unquestionably good and thoughtful art is profoundly troubling. Anthony Julius wrote a book about it. He summarises its arguments in this article. Anti-semitism cannot be argued away or excused- especially when it perpetuates itself in art- it can only be engaged with. He writes