Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"Bieganski" as Scapegoat for the Power Elite

QUIZ: From the two photos, below, select the photo of an alleged anti-Semite:

Ron Schiller, NPR Executive source

 Polish peasants source

One of the arguments of "Bieganski": power elites exploit the Brute Polak stereotype as a scapegoat. "We," the power elites insist "are not and could never be so debased, so low, so animal, as to be racist, white supremacist, or anti-Semitic. We are modern atheists, not old-fashioned religious kooks; we are well-educated, not ignorant peasants; we are evolved, not animalistic. Look to low, poor, dirty, poor, manual laborers, peasants, 'bitter clingers,' for racism, white supremacy, and anti-Semitism. We have solved all that, and we are beyond it."

Ironically, the power elites' exploitation of the Bieganski stereotype to scapegoat Poles and other poor, relatively powerless, underclasses is parallel to arguments advanced by the very people who gave us Scientific Racism, which reached its demonic nadir in Nazism, as chapters three and chapter seven of "Bieganski" show.

One tragic expression of this perverted, but very popular, worldview was the number of people who insisted that Germany could never harm the Jews because "Germany is clean, modern, secular, scientific, advanced! Such people could never do anything really bad! Surely the Germans are nothing like the ignorant, backward, Catholic, medieval peasants who are really responsible for all the trouble in the world!" One reads sentences like this again and again, from memoirs of the rich and powerful who made the decisions that allowed Hitler to get and keep power, to the memoirs of Jews who were certain than modern, educated, Germans would never hurt them.

There is a parallel in America. When Americans speak of white supremacy, they, even in the word choices they make, blame poor whites, rather than power elites. When Americans, even in jest, voice white supremacist world views, they often unconsciously adopt a Southern accent. They condemn white supremacists as "rednecks," "trailer trash," and "white trash." All these terms specifically target the poor. "Redneck" refers to the back of the neck burned by the sun on those farm laborers who worked hours out in the field. "Trailer trash" refers to people too poor to afford conventional housing. "White trash" refers to those whites in the South, often sharecroppers, just a step above blacks in the social hierarchy, who were too poor to be part of the ruling class. When we use these words, we unquestioningly accept, we invest in, the elite's self-serving lies about the poor.

Recently a member of the American power elite was caught on hidden camera expressing views that sound to many like anti-Semitism. The stereotype of an anti-Semite is a Polish peasant. Ron Schiller, an NPR executive, is no peasant, no Pole, and no friend of Christianity. He makes, and accepts without protest, some questionable statements about Jews, all the same. Video


  1. Schiller's been outed for the liberal bigot that he is. His career is over unless the Aspen Institute wants to take on such a man of ill repute. He is a very dishonorable man who as CEO controlled one of the most powerful radio stations, NPR, listened to and adored by liberal America. The peasant/redneck/tea party remarks exemplify an alarming ignorance of what this country, the USA, is all about.

    As far as America's "elite self serving lies about the poor" and looking down at the peasants/white trash/redneck/trailer trash...I agree with the statement if you amend it to read "liberal elite". These are the same people who are in the super majority at most colleges and universities in this country and I would suspect are behind the reason why you had such a tough time getting your book published.

  2. Billy Szych, thank you for your comment.

    Oh, this just in -- Aspen Institute says no.

  3. Erratum
    I erroneously identified Ron Schiller as the CEO of NPR which is incorrect...he was the Senior VP for fundraising.

    As far as his worse comments, they were aimed at Teaparty members not poor people.

    The below quote was found on the web:
    Ron Schiller previously said he had accepted a position at the Aspen Institute, an organization which, according to its mission statement, aims to "foster values-based leadership encouraging individuals to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a good society and to provide a neutral and balanced venue for discussing and acting on critical issues."

    However, the Aspen Institute said in a statement Wednesday that Ron Schiller would not be working there.

    "Ron Schiller has informed us that, in light of the controversy surrounding his recent statements, he does not feel that it's in the best interests of the Aspen Institute for him to come work here," the organization said.
    End quote.
    The Aspen statement is pretty mealy mouthed and should have stated that people like Schiller are not wanted there, period. Unless, they are also of the ilk who behind close doors talk trash about the teaparty white trash. Nah, couldn't happen, right?



Bieganski the Blog exists to further explore the themes of the book Bieganski the Brute Polak Stereotype, Its Role in Polish-Jewish Relations and American Popular Culture.
These themes include the false and damaging stereotype of Poles as brutes who are uniquely hateful and responsible for atrocity, and this stereotype's use in distorting WW II history and all accounts of atrocity.
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