Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Jeremy Corbyn's Anti-Semitism Should Be More Shocking Than It Is

My book "Bieganski: The  Brute Polak Stereotype" talks a lot about the Escherian maze that is Political Correctness. 

Hate is not hate. Hate is hate only if powers-that-by define it so. 

Case in point. The above photo is of powerful British politician Jeremy Corbyn laying a wreath to commemorate the terrorists who murdered Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. 

Confronted with this photo, Corbyn engaged in some mealy mouthed nonsense about how killing has to stop

A Guardian article addressing antisemitism among British Labour Party politicians offers some hint of how widespread and socially acceptable hatred of Jews is in the UK. You can read that article here

British antisemitism is scary and disgusting. British literature produced stock antisemitic images. Blood libel from Chaucer. Shylock from Shakespeare. Fagin from Dickens. 

And at the same time, the UK arrested and tortured Tommy Robinson, who says things that the powers that be don't like about a religion that the powers that be do like. 

If only the Brits had a mirror. They really need to take a good long look at themselves. 

And what has any of this to do with Poles? You tell me how the world would react if a Polish politician showed up at a wreath laying ceremony for terrorist murderers. 

Monday, August 13, 2018

Haaretz: Israeli Students Caught Dancing Naked at Nazi Death Camp in Poland

Like the headline says. Read article here. It was just two people, and they were immediately sent back to Israel. I'm just sharing this because of the headline. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Bieganski in The New Yorker: Poland is Retreating from Democracy

The New Yorker informs its readers that Poland is retreating from democracy. Well, what would you expect from a nation of Bieganskis. Read their predictable article here.

Bad, bad Poland. From the New Yorker. 

Monday, July 30, 2018

"Bieganski is one of the most intellectually and emotionally challenging books I've ever read" Review

In her book Bieganski: The Brute Polak Stereotype, Its Role in Polish-Jewish Relationsand American Popular Culture, Danusha Goska produced one of the most intellectually and emotionally challenging books I’ve ever read. She takes prevalent tropes of Poles (the term “Bieganski” comes from an anti-Semitic Polish character in the book Sophie’s Choice) and examines them from cultural, sociological, historical and economic perspectives. From the range of references, it’s clear that Goska has done her homework and consulted with Jews, Poles and others who know the topics outlined in the book’s title—and who lived through the history behind the stereotypes. Goska heads directly into many incendiary issues: the development of stereotypes in the United States, what Jews have written about Poles, what Poles have written about Jews, what American politicians and Jews did (and did not do) during the Holocaust. She covers a lot of territory in a relatively short book.

Bieganski challenged me because I’m very familiar with the stereotypes and several of her source materials. She looks at books like Maus and Hitler’s Willing Executioners and movies such as Borat (which I turned off after five minutes, unable to stomach the whole concept) and The Apartment and points out themes that flew right by me. I’ll leave a detailed analysis of her critiques to scholars, but the book gave me a fresh way of looking at Poles in culture and history. In other words, Goska made me think—that’s the highest accolade I can pay for any book. She demands to be read and engaged on Jewish-Polish history and clashing perspectives on portrayals of the Holocaust. My copy of the book bears many highlighted passages that aptly summarized her views. One example:

"In the racist expression of the Bieganski stereotype, no narrative arch is possible. When a Pole exhibits what appears to be positive or neutral attitudes or behaviors toward Jews, that must be understood as a temporary failure of his anti-Semitic essence fully to express itself."

Bieganski constantly surprised me. Sometimes it discussed at length matters that are dated and felt tangential to her thesis, such as media responses to a 1993 speech by the Nation of Islam’s Khalid Abdul Muhammad. At other times, the book was compelling in ways I could have never imagined. For example, Goska compared A Streetcar Named Desire to The Apartment, a 1960 movie with Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine and Fred MacMurray that won the Oscar for Best Picture. I saw The Apartment and any Polish content didn’t make an impression on me. I might have sensed strong characters, but I didn’t think of them in particularly ethnic terms. Goska draws out the positive images and themes of “Bohunks” (a term used to cover Eastern European groups).

The discussion becomes especially grim in the chapter “The Necessity of Bieganski: A Shamed and Horrified World Seeks a Scapegoat,” about Polish and Jewish narratives of the World War II, and American responses to the Holocaust. She writes,

"In 1999, Blanche Weisen Cook’s biography of Eleanor Roosevelt revealed that nearly sainted first lady to be an anti-Semite. Her husband, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, is widely considered “the best friend American Jews ever had.” Cook “curled in agony” as her research revealed that, again and again, when the Roosevelts and their friends, including their Jewish friends, had every reason, every bit of necessary information and power, and every precedent to speak out against the brewing Holocaust, and to act, they remained passive and silent, or indulged in anti-Semitism."

Bieganski will stay in my mind for a long time. It challenges conventional thinking, and gives me a new way to assess materials, such as the books of Princeton professor Jan Gross (Neighbors, Fear and Golden Harvest), Jan Karski’s Courier from Poland: The Story of a Secret State and Polish cinema (Katyń, The Zookeeper’s Wife). Its ideas are as relevant as ever, given new Polish laws regarding discussion of the Holocaust in the news these days. Even Sacha Baron Cohen, of Borat fame, is back with his Showtime series Who is America? The book forces me to ask myself: what do I think on a topic, and how much of that thinking is based on direct experience, and how much on materials passed by me that I accept—unthinkingly?

See Van Wallach's blog here

Sunday, July 29, 2018

NYT: Massive Increase in Antisemitism in France; Muslims Are Source; "Silent Ethnic Cleansing."

Etienne Laurent/European Pressphoto Agency Source
Shocking, depressing article from the NYT. Massive increase in antisemitic hate crimes in France. Criminals are Muslims, who often cite their religion as inspiration. In one case, an elderly Holocaust survivor was murdered by an assailant yelling "Allahu Akbar."

Crimes range from Muslims spitting on Jews in public to torture and murder. Neighborhoods are emptying out. Jews are planning to leave France or to live in ethnic ghettos where they can feel safe.

People are asking Muslims to address antisemitic passages in the Koran. Muslims decline to do so.

The government does not want to speak about this. Muslims resist accepting responsibility. Muslims quoted in the article insist that the problem is "Jewish Islamophobia." One claims that Jews control the world.

Read the full article, They Spit When I Walk in the Street: The New Antisemitism in France here

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Piasnica Massacres: Another Nazi Atrocity Against Poles You've Never Heard Of

The above photo came through my Facebook feed recently. I did a Google image search. The photo is identified as a record of the Massacres in Piasnica, Poland, 1939-40. 

Wikipedia reports

"The massacres in Piaśnica were a set of mass executions carried out by Nazi Germany during World War II, between the fall of 1939 and spring of 1940 in Piaśnica Wielka (Groß Piasnitz) in the Darzlubska Wilderness near Wejherowo. The exact number of people murdered is unknown, but estimates range between 12,000 and 14,000 victims. Most of them were Polish intellectuals from Gdańsk Pomerania, but Poles, Jews, Czechs and German inmates from mental hospitals from General Government and the Third Reich were also murdered. After the Stutthof concentration camp, Piaśnica was the largest site of killings of Polish civilians in Pomerania by the Germans, and for this reason is sometimes referred to as the "second" or "Pomeranian" Katyn. It was the first large scale Nazi atrocity in occupied Poland."

Inside Poland calls this massacres "the other Katyn." 

Inside Poland writes, "...in the autumn of 1939 began the Piaśnica massacres. Nobody, except ethnic, party-card toting Germans living in this part of Poland, was safe, and by the time the manhunts, summary shootings and mass executions were being wound down a year later, at least 16,000 people had died.

From the beginning, there was no doubt that Poles were the target of Nazi German aggression. Elżbieta Grot noted in her Genocide in Piaśnica (Ludobójstwo w Piaśnicy) that Albert Forster, Nazi Germany’s administrator of the region, roused crowds in Wejherowo, stating 'We have to eliminate the lice-ridden Poles, starting with those in the cradle… into your hands I place the fate of these Poles – you may do with them as you please.' Grot also notes that many ethnic Germans – some with Polish citizenship – who took part in the subsequent massacres later went on to become highly proficient members of the Nazi German SS."

I have nothing to add to these accounts. I am posting here simply because this photo crossed my path, and I did not want to delete it from my computer before sharing a commemoration of these innocent Polish victims of Nazism.

Re: comments. For some reason, I have not been receiving alerts about comments on my blogs, and there is a big backlog of unpublished comments. Please do comment, and I will do my best to make sure that appropriate comments are published. I apologize for the previous comments that got lost in the computer glitch.