Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Facebook: Krakow. Crack Whore. Funny? Prejudiced? Or does the Polak just need to relax?

Krakow, Poland. A city I love as if it were a living thing. Source.
Believe it or not,
this is one of the less disturbing images that turn up when you do a Google image search of  "crack whore." I don't advise that you repeat this search. The images are grotesque and offensive.  

A facebook friend is a cantor or hazzan. He is visiting Poland. I've been enjoying his trip vicariously. He posted photos of tombstones in Warsaw's Jewish cemetery and I "shared" them to my facebook page. I was educated and delighted. 

Last night, he posted a one-word update: "Krakow." 

The very first comment was a joke. Emeril, a TV chef, says "Krakow" when he cooks. The next comment was enthusiastic. The poster posted a one sentence comment about how she appreciates Krakow. 

The next comment was a joke. Back to the Emeril comment. The next comment was a joke. The poster posted this url: http://icant.co.uk/talks/img/krakow.jpg

The next comment was a joke. "Krakow" is the sound Batman makes when he punches someone. (In English, comic book authors often use the word "kapow" to indicate the sound the impact of a punch makes. 

The next comment was a joke. A reference to crack whores. 

And that's it. Those were all the comments. One person saying something enthusiastic. The rest, jokes. 

I posted the following: 


"Krakow is a cultural center in Poland. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was the capital of Poland for hundreds of years. There are sites in Krakow directly connected to Kosciuszko, Pilsudski, Mickiewicz, Wyspianski, Wojtyla. Wawel castle is in Krakow. It is especially beloved of Polish Americans because when Polish Americans visit Poland they often visit Krakow. The KF hosts summer schools there.

Krakow is also a site of horrendous suffering. The Nazis worked very hard to destroy Krakow, while still enjoying what they left of it. There is a museum in Krakow that talks about this occupation. I'll include a link.

After the Nazis, the Stalinists did their part, locating Nowa Huta near Krakow. The steel mill fumes damaged the city's ancient stones.

Evoking "crack whores" or batman's "kapow" -- and nothing else -- with Krakow suggests an underlying disrespect and denigration.

We all enjoy freedom of speech, and if this is what people choose to do, that's legal and acceptable. It is also legal and acceptable for me to point it out."

Two of the facebook folks who posted "jokes" about Krakow responded. They both said that I should "relax."

8 comments:

  1. As a Cracovian I feel tremendously offended.To add s.th, I have met with several American exchange students here-and I am sorry to say that their ignorance with regards to anything besides their best friends,Germany, and GB as well as,although substantially less, France, is astonishing.And hurtful at that-what they "know" about Poland is :Auschwitz, "Polish anti-Semitism", that the II Republic was "like nazi Germany" ect.Also, nearly everone of them seemed to have read "Maus" by Spiegelman.I also had to answer stuff like "do you write in cyrillic"? I kind of feel like doing jokes about American places,also. I have seen some very nasty 9/11 jokes-but Americans shouldnt mind them, also, but just "relax".

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  2. I was in Krakow in 1986 studying Polish Jewish relations at the Jagiellonian University. It is a gorgeous city saved from German Nazi depredations to a large extent. Most American students know little about Poland then or now. There is no one to teach them. I grew up in the heart of the Polish-American ghetto in Detroit in the 1950's and even though I went to a Catholic school in that neighborhood other than optional Polish language classes there was no one to teach me either. Not much, apparently, has changed since! Christina Pacosz

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  3. The problem is the context, the fact that America's media and its Academe seem to have gone out of their way to vilify Poles, so these comments were not made in a neutral environment.

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  4. Magdalena PaśnikowskaOctober 24, 2012 at 5:09 AM

    Sometimes I think we should leave the "jokers" in their own little world. I don't want their respect, if it has to be dragged out of them. As long as they don't go out of their way to actively show me their contempt, that is. I feel that if we - Polonians and Poles alike - or more widely the so-called Eastern Europeans, or people from behind the Iron Curtain, felt secure enough being who we are, and showed it, the jokers would be telling their anecdotes to a rapidly dwindling audience.

    ReplyDelete
  5. From the talk I just gave in Wisconsin:

    If you mention Polish identity in any number of venues: a college classroom, a party, a political speech, a film, a discussion of poetry – if it is a lower strata venue, you make a Polak joke. If it is a higher strata venue, you invoke Bieganski. In American culture any mention of Polish identity is followed by Bieganski. It is obligatory

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Magdalena PaśnikowskaOctober 24, 2012 at 7:08 AM

      That is truly horrible. Disgusting. The more reason to flaunt our identity, then ;-)
      The huge inferiority complex that is lying over the Polonia like a gray cloud needs to go. But it's up to each individual to stop participating in this game, because yes, I think it's a game of sorts, and lots of people are playing...

      Delete
  6. PS: this was, perhaps, the final joke in the thread: "Krak on Krak off."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How about this comeback: "What kind of witty wise-Krak was THAT?"

      Delete

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