Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Glimpse at My Hate Mail, or Pole v. Pole in the Gladiatorial Ring




I write about Polish-Jewish relations. I get hate mail on a weekly basis. Has been so for twenty years.

Given that I am, myself, an American of Polish-Slovak-Catholic-peasant descent, one might think that the bulk of my hate mail comes from Jews. Maybe they call me a brute Polak.

I do get hate mail from some Jews. Also, some Jews have said some hateful, stereotypical things to me in in-person encounters. But hate mail from Jews is actually quite rare.

This might surprise you. Most of the hate mail I get comes from men who identify as Polish: Polish-American, Polish-British, etc. They are virtually all men. They all exhibit the same traits in their hate mail. They are so similar, they could all be the same person.

That they are all so similar is also interesting, because they often say completely opposite things.

One man sends me hate mail telling me that I am obviously secretly Jewish, and that I am obviously receiving payments from the Jews.

Another man writes to tell me that I hate the Catholic Church, and all that is holy.

Another man writes to tell me that I am a typical Polish Catholic anti-Semite.

You will note, dear reader, that these three men are saying mutually contradictory things.

Here's the interesting part – these three men, in their style of speech, could be exactly the same person.

I know they are not. I know who they are. I won't post their names here, because they really don't deserve your attention. It may, or may not, surprise you to learn that two of the above writers are or have been college professors. A bit scary, no?

Again, I don't get these emails once in a blue moon. I get them weekly. Predictably. Reliably.

And this has been going on for decades.

The first man to hound me in hate mail accused me of being a Zionist spy. When he wasn't sending me emails proving that I was a Zionist spy, he was denouncing me on a Polish-interest discussion site as a Zionist spy.

After that a Polish man hacked into my email, and sent all my friends defamatory comments about me.

After that a Polish-American man began sending me lengthy emails so full rage I went to a lawyer. She wrote him a letter telling him to cease and desist. He then began denouncing me on a different Polish-interest discussion list. He eventually published an article in Poland identifying me as part of a conspiracy against Poland.

The accusations all hover around these men's obsessions. I'm not really Polish. I'm secretly Jewish. I hate Poland. Alternately, I am a typical, anti-Semitic, Polish fascist.

I'm mentioning this now because I was recently denounced on two different websites devoted to discussion of Poland. The first accusation came from Victor, a man who said that my work is all about "marketing." I'm in it for the money.

The second accusation came from Adrian, a man who said that I am obviously not proud to be Polish, and that no one stereotypes Poles any more, and that I make these non-existent stereotypes worse by talking about them.

Here's an excerpt from Adrian's grammatically incoherent denunciation: "it is with sadness that people like this exist to continually beat dead stereotypes and worsen the image of those getting out from under it." There are so many grammatical errors in Adrian's denunciation that the English teacher in me wants to take a red pen to it, and send Adrian back a corrected copy.

BTW, men like this don't just come after me. They come after my friends and allies. Recently a very brave warrior against the Bieganski stereotype, a woman who, I know, made great personal sacrifice in time, money, and peace of mind in order to join in this work, was driven off the web all together by a man who hounded her relentlessly. He just kept throwing insults and false accusations against her. No one in the internet forums where this occurred (so I was told; I didn't witness it myself) stood up for her.

***

This much is clear. In the twenty plus years that I've been working on Polish-Jewish relations, a consistent subset of the population has been hostile, ignorant, bullying men who behave like drunken thugs. Their ideas don't really matter. What matters is how they behave.

These men are destructive. They don't advance Polonia.

This much is also clear. These men damage public discussion about the Brute Polak stereotype. They go after women (from what I've seen, it has been men going after women) who speak in an informed and intelligent way about the stereotype. They demand that all conversation be reduced to their level, the Neanderthal level of "Poland Good! Not Poland? Bad!"

As mentioned, one of these thugs drove a very valuable activist against the Bieganski stereotype off the web all together.

Me? Yeah. They get to me. I do want to throw in the towel. You'll notice I haven't posted anything on this blog in a while.

One bright spot. Men have spoken up against at least two of the thugs who send me hate mail. And, after Adrian's grammatically hopeless denunciation of me, a woman spoke up. She said, "I would like to add a word of protest to this action. I admire Danusha. She has devoted her life to debunking some of the stereotypes about Poles. She means no harm. She may not always say what we as Poles want to hear, but by deleting her from this group, you are doing exactly what you accuse her of doing."

The next time a thug goes after another Pole or Polonian, I hope you, dear reader, will speak up.

***

PS: On this blog, I have maintained the policy of posting a wide variety of views in the comments section. I do not post comments by posters who have adopted ad hominem attack, or statement of false accusations. I do that at least partly because Pole-v-Pole gladiatorial combat sickens me.

I have seen more instances of Poles going at each others' throats, attacking each other, putting each other down, than instances of Poles uniting and organizing strategically to successfully combat the Bieganski stereotype. Polonia, please think about this.

Please don't tolerate these thugs. Please call them out, tell them to stop, and pursue intellectually worthy and socially admirable public work against the Brute Polak stereotype.

1 comment:

  1. I have had similar contradictory experiences. Some have called me a "Polish nationalist" because I correct false statements about Poles. Others have called me a "fake Pole" because my name, Peczkis, is Lithuanian in origin.

    I have also received contradictory remarks about Polish-Jewish issues. Some have called me an anti-Semite because I criticize some aspects of Jewish attitudes and conduct. Others have said that I do "a service to the Jews" because, by reviewing books authored by Jews, and on Holocaust-related matters, I am creating publicity for them.

    Go figure.

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