Friday, December 19, 2014

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Jewish Woman Gets Bieganski-Style Treatment at an Ivy League Event

My good friend Vivian Shnaidman, author of Homicidal Intent, posted a message on Facebook about anti-Semitism.

Vivian told an anecdote that occurred on an Ivy League campus in the US. A Jewish woman was forced to answer for Israeli "genocide" of Arab Muslims.

When I read this anecdote, I felt as if it could have happened to me. On American campuses, I have been put on the spot and forced to answer for Polish genocide against Jews. When I have tried to talk to the people mouthing stereotypes – "You Poles are the world's worst anti-Semites" – I generally discover that my accuser knows nothing of Polish history, in the same way that Vivian's friend's accuser knew nothing of Israel's history.

This is Political Correctness at work. Political Correctness is, inter alia, a pecking order. It's a way of saying, "You are Jewish [or Polish] and so you are lower than I. I will use virtue as a means to put you down and to elevate myself."

Real virtue is not what is at stake. Fake, Politically Correct virtue is what is at stake. Thus, pretend genocides – the pretend Jewish genocide of Arab Muslims, and the pretend Polish Catholic genocide of Jews – are used. Mind – I am not saying that the Holocaust never happened. It did. It was a German, Nazi project. Not a Polish, Catholic one. Of course there were Polish villains, but those villains are not representational of the Polish nation or of Catholicism. They are not I, and I am not them.

Certainly I have never participated in a genocide, and putting me on the spot at a university event, or putting a Jewish woman on the spot at a university event, is not a real act of courage or virtue. It is one-ups-man-ship, and that's what Political Correctness is really all about: I am better than you.

Vivian's post is below:


I believe the current anti-Jewish, anti-Israel situation is a result of mass propaganda and of the innate antisemitism of people of non-Jewish descent that has pervaded history since time immemorial. Here is my example.

Yesterday I heard about an incident at a faculty "mixer" at our local Ivy League University. An Israeli acquaintance of mine was invited, in the role of "attractive woman." (She reports that the guest list included geniuses, millionaires, and attractive women, and the seating was arranged in this order).

This woman was seated next to a[n] (I prefer "a" but I am aware that some people do not pronounce the h) historian (a professor - hence a "genius.")

That historian said to this Israeli woman, upon learning she was Israeli: "How do you feel about the terrible genocide your country is perpetrating against the Palestinians?"

This woman was shocked and essentially speechless. She did not want to start a confrontation or draw attention to herself. The seating plan was such that her husband (genius, but her genius) was seated elsewhere, so she was all alone.

She mumbled something about getting his facts straight and that there were no such thing as "Palestinians" before 1967, but she was basically horrified that a HISTORIAN – someone with a coveted tenured position at this world-famous university – was unaware of the history of the little strip of land that in Biblical times through Roman times, and again in modern times, we call "ISRAEL."

That historian was UNAWARE of the fact that the Arabs/Muslims living in that area never had a self-government, never had a political system, never had their own currency, and that genetic studies indicate that many of them are actually of Turkish (Ottoman) descent.

That person was unaware of the first Aliyah, unaware that Jews have always lived in Israel, unaware of the fact that the Arabs were offered a separate state or to remain part of the new invented state of Jordan, unaware that Jordan went to war with Israel in 1967 (along with Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon) and LOST their territory fair and square. Unaware of all these things – why – because the world hates and has always hated the Jews.

If we could map out anti-Jewish activity in Europe and the middle east over the past 3000 years (and I'm sure someone has done this) we would find that once a century something holocaust-like happens. The Nazis were the first ones to have the technology to systematically exterminate Jews, but think about today's technology – 70+ years more advanced. This is how it starts – with invented history and blaming the Jews for things we have nothing to do with.

One final anecdote (because I'm supposed to be writing PSYCHIATRY FOR LAWYERS, not THE HISTORY OF THE JEWS): Right after Obama won the first time in 2008, I was in court in my role of expert witness (nothing to do with Jews or Muslims – a sex offender case). When I came in, everyone in the courtroom was talking about how they were preparing their escape hatch from the US just in case. One religious Jewish attorney was explaining how his wife was Canadian so he was applying for a Canadian passport. The judge was talking about retiring abroad and getting a new citizenship. One psychologist had an Israeli passport.

All of us Jews who were aware of law and history and had good educations (psychiatrists, psychologists, and lawyers) were well aware of the fact that a guy who was raised Muslim until the age of 11 could not and would not be a friend to the Jews or to Israel. The past six years I think have borne this out. And for the Jews who have this fantasy that being anti-Israel is not the same as being anti-Semitic, I will say only one thing: If you don't think you're Jewish, ask your neighbors. Rant over.


By the way, I googled Vivian's claim about Turkish genes and found this

And I am mindful that many Jews supported Obama, and continue to support him. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

"With Blood and Scars" by BE Andre

"With Blood and Scars" is a new Polish-themed book by B. E. Andre.

The book has two plotlines. One involves children, and is from the past. One involves a Polish father dying of cancer in modern day England, and his adult child hoping to learn the full facts of his life before he dies.

The book's intriguing title comes from a passage written for Polish children about their own country. How was Poland born? "With blood and scars." 

Here's the book description from Amazon:

"Time is running out for Ania. She needs to ask her dying father a vital question; his answer is the key to how she will lead the rest of her life. She must force him to revisit his childhood in Poland in 1944, a time when decisions about survival were made on the spur of the moment, a place where chaos undermined all previous morality. Who is her father really? Can she bear to find out? 

Another secret also torments her: an incident she filed in her memory store. Now the police have found the remains of a child in Whalley Range. Should she try to find the gang of friends from her own childhood days? Or should she keep the secret of what happened then? This coming-of-age novel is a tale of heroic survival against all odds: a life-affirming story of courage and hope set against harrowing circumstances. It celebrates the goodness that can be found in all nations." 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Japan's Pristine World War II Record

Because if you don't talk about war crimes, and you don't admit to war crimes, and no one pays any attention to your war crimes ... what war crimes? 

From FrontPageMagazine:

"Unlike Germany, Japan never came to terms in any way with its wartime history. The Japanese are fed on a diet of official history and pop culture history which makes them out to be the victims of American aggression. This history typically starts with American planes suddenly bombing Japan for no reason and then concludes with Hiroshima and Nagasaki."

Link follows. Warning: this is a very disturbing article. "Japan Still in Deep Denial" here

Saturday, December 13, 2014

"Take For Example Genocide"

I'm posting this here for the capital A Atheist's use of cultural relativism, and for the line "Take for example genocide." 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

When Someone You Love Says Something You Hate

Last year on September 11, I chatted with students about the day's significance. These students were majority minority: African American, Hispanic, and Asian, with a few whites. Some were born overseas, in Africa and the Caribbean. All were young, in their late teens or early twenties. Most came from New Jersey cities like Paterson, Passaic, Newark, and Jersey City.

None of my students identified Al Qaeda or Osama bin Laden as the author of the 9-11 terror attacks.

A few mentioned Jews as the planners and perpetrators of the 9-11 attacks. Others agreed. None objected.

"Yeah, I heard that," one volunteered, as if offering multiple sourcing as support towards a potential assessment of the attribution of guilt for 9-11 to Jews as verifiable.

"No Jews went to work that day," another said.

Some thought George Bush was responsible. Others identified shadowy, legendary conspirators, like the Illuminati.

Of course I felt sad. I wanted my students to know the truth. They didn't.

I certainly label these views as anti-Semitic. I don't label the students themselves as anti-Semitic because I don't think they have a grasp on what antisemitism is, or even what a Jew is. I think they're totally blind on this matter, and innocently parroting rumors that have been represented to them as fact. I don't think they know why one should question such material.

I do know why one should question attribution of 9-11 to Jews. I do know why such a statement is abhorrent. I am aware of wider narratives, of circles of atrocity and responsibility, of webs of meaning. My students are oblivious to all of that, from the Holocaust to Heinrich von Treitschke to Leo Frank to the Munich Olympics to Klinghoffer the man and Klinghoffer the opera. I know about that. They don't.

Their parents, who, for the most part, are struggling to survive in low-wage jobs, don't know about these things, and never passed on awareness that they don't have.

In telling this anecdote, I could handle it in various ways.

If I wanted to prove that Americans are anti-Semitic, I could use this anecdote.

If I wanted to prove that Blacks and Hispanics are anti-Semitic, I could use this anecdote.

If I wanted to prove that Blacks and Hispanics from Newark and Paterson are ignorant or poorly educated, I could use this anecdote.

If I wanted to prove that Jews carried out the 9-11 terror attacks, I could use this anecdote.

I don't want to choose any of these listed options.

Here's what the anecdote says to me.

My students have been poorly educated in New Jersey's underperforming high schools, which do cluster in Newark and Paterson, inter alia. New Jersey's high school ranked as worst performing is in Paterson, as is its fourth worst performing high school. Five, six, seven, eight, and nine are in Newark. Ten is in Paterson.

My teenage students can hardly be blamed for the caliber of schools they have been forced to attend.

Conspiracy theories have flourished in recent years for a variety of sociological and political reasons. One cause is Political Correctness which seeks always to place blame on America. The single-minded "Blame America First" approach encourages tortured logic and excuses anyone who isn't American or Western.

National Public Radio celebrity and pseudo-intellectual Karen Armstrong said that when she learned of 9-11, she concluded "We did this." Well, if Karen Armstrong is a member of Al Qaeda, that's absolutely true. Otherwise, it is exemplary of politically correct hogwash.

Newark's current mayor, Ras Baraka, is the son of another PC celebrity, Amiri Baraka, New Jersey poet laureate and PEN award winner, winner of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim. Amiri Baraka's poem "Somebody Blew Up America," implicates Jews in 9-11.

A good number of left-wing professors contribute to ignorance because certain truths are not congenial to how they want to interpret history.

Another factor: Paterson has a large Muslim population. Many Muslims do attribute the 9-11 terror attacks to Jews. Recently an imam insisted on Egyptian television that Jews created ISIS. I know that some-not-all Muslims share anti-Jewish conspiracy theories with others who are not Muslims. They have shared these conspiracy theories with me and my students.

I mention all this because I love my students. I see them in all their humanity. They are lovable.

I know when I say "Black kid from Paterson" my interlocutor is likely immediately to imagine a mugger or a juvenile delinquent lounging on garbage-strewn streets. Mentally, the person to whom I mention a Black youth from Paterson will immediately lock his or her doors, roll up his or her windows, and step on the gas.

The negative stereotypes of my students are already there.

If I casually toss in a story about Black and Hispanic kids from Paterson attributing 9-11 to Jews or the Illuminati … well … I'm basically squirting kerosene on an already smoldering dump of stereotyping.

For that reason, when I tell these stories, I tell them carefully.

I emphasize my students' native intelligence, their hard work, their eagerness to do the right thing in a world that doesn't love them enough to communicate to them exactly what the right thing is. I state over and over again, not to be nice, but to tell the truth: I have an MA from UC Berkeley, a very good school (and an even better school when I attended than it is now), and a PhD from Indiana University, another very good school, and my students are every bit as smart as the smarty pantses I've rubbed elbows with. The difference really is, all too often, money, or luck.

In short, I tell these anecdotes carefully. I strive not to add to stereotyping.

I recently blogged about Shelley Salamensky's New York Review of Books blog piece about the POLIN Museum of the History of the Polish Jews. Shelley's piece ends with an anecdote about Poles saying obnoxious things about Jews, specifically that Jews stole money from the Polish treasury, and that Jews have large noses and forelocks.

I took exception to the New York Review of Books ending a piece about a museum of global importance with an anecdote about obnoxious Poles. I wrote to Shelley Salamensky and to my surprise Shelley wrote back. Her note was entirely gracious and generous and she showed awareness of, and concern for, negative stereotyping of Poles.

I felt guilty for being so critical about Shelley's piece. But…

Do such obnoxious things get said? Of course they do. I never heard the specific conspiracy theory that Shelley mentions – that Jews stole all the money from the Polish treasury – but I've heard other offensive things.

Like all offensive commentary, I think that the statements I have heard from Poles are complicated texts that need to be understood. In the same way that I need to work to understand why so many young people from Newark and Paterson, who are themselves members of stereotyped minority groups, have accepted outlandish conspiracy theories about Jews, I need to understand why any Poles in present day Poland would say that Jews stole all the money from the Polish treasury.

I think Shelley would agree with me on this. I will invite her to speak for herself and to do a guest blog entry on a topic of her choosing. I think that would be great. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The New York Review of Books Visits the Museum of the History of the Polish Jews and Stumbles Upon Bieganski

Let's go out into the woods and drink vodka. Source

On December 6, 2014, the New York Review of Books blog ran an article, "Poland's Jews: Under a New Roof" by Shelley Salamensky. The article addresses the new POLIN: Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. The bulk of the article is very bland and unoriginal. It merely restates facts that might be found in something like a pamphlet or a Wikipedia article. Anyone who knows or cares anything about Polish-Jewish relations will be familiar with the facts relayed in the bulk of the article.

In its final paragraphs, the article presents a little Bieganski scenario. Poles are described as xenophobic, anti-modern, woodsy peasants. Excerpt:

"When in recent years I found myself in the area on research, its gentle landscape of forests and fields looked little changed from family tales…

While Polish national politics may be edging from far-right to right-center, Poland's southeast corner is a stronghold of anti-abortion, anti-feminist, anti-gay, anti-immigrant, and—with burgeoning Roma communities in Slovakia, just a few miles away—anti-Roma sentiment. It is still possible to encounter medieval Catholic notions of Jews as Christ-killers and money-grubbers, and while it is nearly impossible under Polish law for Jews to reclaim property confiscated in the World War II era, news of revival activity in Warsaw prompts fear that descendants of Polish Jews will show up and take their homes and farmland back.

However, so few natives who have stayed in the region have knowingly encountered Jews that this is less a matter of anti-Semitism than cultural insularity and ongoing misinformation…

In a mid-sized city near Sanok not long ago, I fell into conversation with a group of middle-aged Poles in a café. They informed me, in evident earnest, that Poland was poor today because "the Jews stole all the money from the treasury."

"When?" I asked.

"Before the war," a woman said. Others nodded.

"What did they do with it?"

"Ran off to Israel and New York."

When I asked about concentration camps, I was told that they were where Polish patriots were killed.

"Have you ever met a Jew?" I asked. A few said they'd seen some.

"What do Jews look like?" With their hands they traced bulbous noses and long sidecurls in the air.

"What would you say," I concluded after too much wódka, "if I told you I was a Jew?"…

But there is reason to believe that the museum's message of respect and understanding will be embraced, especially among younger generations exposed to new ideas by the Internet and, increasingly, employment abroad. After a thousand years, a few more shouldn't be so long to wait.

End of excerpt.

You can read Shelley Salamensky's full article here

The reader will not be focusing on the material in Salamensky's article that is merely a replay of material found elsewhere. Salamensky's original contribution is the anecdote about the allegedly anti-Semitic, backward Polaks with whom she drinks vodka.

Poland, it is implied, has been an oppressive place for Jews for a thousand years. Jews are "waiting" for tolerance in Poland. Tolerance will be imported by Poles who travel abroad and learn about it abroad, and bring it back home. And, of course, from the Internet.

"Bieganski" takes on, and dismantles, the idea that "tolerance" is "modern" and that "backward, primitive" Poland must import it from more modern locales.

I learned of this article through an email sent by a Polonian. "I wanted to cry when I saw this," the Polonian said to me.

I understand my correspondent's tears, but I wanted to confirm. "Why did you want to cry?" I asked.

My correspondent made clear why he/she wanted to cry. The article goes out of its way to depict Poles as primitive bigots. The article does this while ostensibly celebrating a much-heralded new museum dedicated to Polish Jews.

The article smears all Poles on the basis of rather flimsy grounds. A group of unnamed Poles associated Jews with money, large noses and forelocks.

News flash: it is conventional for people around the world to associate Jews with money, large noses and forelocks. Jews make this association themselves. That may be a good thing, a neutral thing, or a bad thing. One thing it is certainly not is a Polish thing.

The idea that Jews stole money from the treasury and ran off to Israel and New York is a new one for me. I have never heard that. I don't doubt that there are Poles who believe it.

Salamensky concludes her otherwise bland article with this ugly, provocative anecdote. It is what the reader will remember. This ugly, inflammatory anecdote is the takeaway.

I would never do what Salamensky does here. I would never end something that I hoped thousands of people would read with an ugly, inflammatory anecdote depicting Jews sitting around a table, handling coins – the closest analog I can come up with to Poles in a woodsy, rural location sitting around drinking vodka – and talking about what animals Poles are.

Bieganski is in the details here. No, Salamensky never says "Poles are the world's worst antisemites." She doesn't have to.

One more thing. The Polonian who sent me this link asked that I not publicly identify him/her, and I will not.

This Polonian understands that there are consequences for Polonians who speak out about the Bieganski stereotype.

I understand that, too. I have spoken out, on the record, about the Bieganski stereotype. I have paid the price, and the work has not been, for the most part, supported by Polonia. An example. I've been invited to speak by Jewish institutions. I am still waiting to be invited to speak by a Polish one. Hello, Kosciuszko Foundation. Hello, Indiana Univeristy Polish Studies Center. I spoke there under the late Tim Wiles and I would very much like to speak there again. Hello Polish American Congress.
One step in addressing the Bieganski stereotype: Polonia needs to support her own.

Update: more on this topic here