M.B.B. Biskupski from "Conclusion," "Hollywood's War with Poland 1939-1945."
I'll be back soon with a review of Biskupski's book, one every Polish American should purchase, read, review on Amazon, and support in every way.
I'll disagree with one feature of Biskupski's quote, above. American Poles don't deserve blame for failing to "defend their nationality's reputation devotedly." That makes the problem sound like one of chauvinism.
Rather, Poles -- not just American Poles but Poles in Poland as well -- deserve blame for allowing a key nation to be misrepresented on the world stage.
As both "Bieganski" and Biskupski make clear, that failure has allowed World War II and Holocaust history to be rewritten.
But, but, Polish Americans say, "I wrote a letter to the New York Times when it used the phrase, 'Polish Concentration Camps'!"
Sorry. That is not what is called for.
What is called for?
People who care about this matter need to unite, support each other, organize, and act strategically.
People who care about this matter need to *purchase* both "Bieganski" and Biskupski's book. Too many Polish Americans protest against spending money on books -- I've received an embarrassing and depressing number of such complaints. People who wish to make an impact on culture and scholarship need to become part of culture and scholarship, and one way to do that is to financially support publishers who publish books whose message the purchaser supports. Simply put, the Polonians who complain to me about purchasing books are telling publishers, loud and clear, "Don't publish books on Polish topics because we won't reward you for doing so."
Read the books. Review them on Amazon. It is a tragic reflection of Polonia's refusal to prepare itself intellectually to discuss negative stereotyping of Poles that Biskupski's book has only one serious review on Amazon.
Invite these books' authors to speak at organized events.
And, as Saul Alinksy says, name the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it. The target is not the phrase "Polish concentration camps" or Polak jokes or Borat. These are all merely manifestations of a deeply rooted problem, one Polonians are not ready even to begin to address until they arm themselves intellectually with "Bieganski" and Biskupski.
After that, school curricula, hiring practices, journalism, and popular culture must be effectively and relentlessly targeted until there is change.
There are enough Polish Americans to accomplish this. There is enough money. All that is lacking is will. That's where the "blame" that Biskupski talks about comes in. We could do this. But we aren't even talking about doing this. We tell ourselves that writing one letter to the NYT about the phrase "Polish concentration camps" is enough. It's a good thing to do. An honorable thing to do.
It is not enough, though.
The longest journey does indeed begin with a single step. Let that step be in the right direction. Toward significant action, rather than just window dressing that we engage in order to tell ourselves that we are really doing something -- patting oneself on the back for writing the easily dismissed random letter to this or that publication that uses the phrase "Polish concentration camps" is just such a wrong direction.
Let our steps take us in the right direction, that of passing on history accurately to the next generation.