Friday, March 8, 2013

Why Poles -- And Other Bohunks -- Have No Right to Speak Up About the Bieganski the Brute Stereotype

Oh, shut up. Source

I just posted a blog post about "Song of the South," a 1946 Disney film that is a combination of live action and animation. It is a controversial film. It depicts Uncle Remus, an elderly black man, telling African-based trickster tales of Br'er Rabbit to a lonely white boy. Disney has never released a DVD of the film. Fans love it and want the DVD; opponents feel that the film is racist.

In my blog post I don't take a stand one way or the other. I think both sides make good arguments. I like some aspects of "Song of the South," and I find other aspects of the film cringe-inducing. I honestly have no idea what impact a release of the DVD would have on young viewers.

Immediately after I posted the blog post, I realized that someone would comment on the blog post to say, "You don't have a right to talk about this, because you are white, and as a white person, you have no authority, no intellectual insight, and no moral right to comment on an issue of pertinence to African Americans."

Sure enough, someone did post a response saying more or less that very thing.

And then I realized something else.

When I first began working on stereotypes of Poles, I was told: "You have no right to speak about stereotypes of Poles, because you are Polish, and that means you have no authority, no intellectual insight, and no moral right." I've been told that again and again.

Please note the contrast in conventional PC speech, the kind of speech that dominates on college campuses and in polite American discourse. Only African Americans have the authority, the intellectual insight, the moral right, to speak about stereotypes of African Americans.

Polish Catholics, on the other hand, are refused the authority, the intellectual insight, the moral right, to address stereotyping of Polish Catholics.

Obviously both positions can't be objectively true. Either ethnic identity qualifies you to address stereotyping, or it does not.

But in the topsy-turvy "logic" of Political Correctness, one group is empowered, the other is disempowered.

When an African American expresses concern that a given cultural product – a Disney movie, a politician's speech, a joke – is racist, we know we must listen with polite and engaged concern and a commitment to action.

When a Polish Catholic expresses concern that a given cultural product misrepresents or denigrates Poles, we know we must mock that Polish person, dismiss their concern, and write them off as narrow, hypersensitive Polish chauvinists whose worries have nothing to do with us, or anything of any importance.


My best guess: Because Polonia has not done the work that African Americans have done. African Americans worked very, very hard to make their concerns the academy's, and the wider society's, concerns. Polonia has not done that work, and it is silenced.

Polonians can begin to address that silencing by following the suggestions in the blog post entitled "The Crisis in Polonian Leadership, Organization, and Vision." That blog post is here.

For what it's worth, I think the identity argument is not only wrong, I think it is evil. I do not believe that morality, intellect, or authority are distributed by ethnicity, and I think that the belief that they are is a step back into the dark evils of racism, rather than away from those evils. I'd rather listen to an intelligent and moral man address misogyny, rape, childbirth, and motherhood than a stupid and immoral woman. I'd rather read Antony Polonsky, a Jewish scholar, on stereotypes of Poles, than an uninformed, chauvinist, and belligerent Polish Catholic.

The blog post on "Song of the South" is here.


  1. This whole business of who has a "right" to speak and who does not have a "right" to speak, revolves around two fundamental issues:

    1). Who is or who is not considered a "victim group" (that again). For instance, Poles are not considered a victim group.

    2). Identity politics once again. Identity politics has been honed to perfection by the left. Part of this is the legitimization and de-legitimization of speech according to long-term left-wing goals. Thus, for example, Polish speech is not accepted by academics and media, most of whom are leftists, and therefore de-legitimized by telling Poles that they have "no right" to say something to correct false statements about them.

  2. Oops. I meant well put Jan.

    "worked very, very hard to make their concerns the academy's, and the wider society's, concerns."

    There is imperialism in this above. Galloping narcissism. "We are the axis around which other people's thoughts and actions should turn."

    I think many Slavs decline such mentalities and attitudes because their sense of boundaries is healthier than that of such "empowered" and often variously parasitic mentalities, who often come up with various plans for extra privileges and dollars for themselves, as an example of --"make their concerns the academy's, and the wider society's, concerns"

    It is a sign of psychic health and good will toward others that most Slavs decline to participate in such approaches and modes of being.


    1. There are numerous listserves, facebook pages, and other discussion sites dedicated to Poles doing nothing but complaining, Poles claiming victimhood again and again.

      Any claim that Poles don't declare themselves to be victims are easily proven false to anyone operating in consensus reality.

      What Poles don't do is tell their story in a coherent and compelling way to the wider world.

      Syllabi, library materials, college courses, journalism, politics: Poles and Polonians have been completely ineffectual in these fields.

      And, being ineffectual, they retreat to the facebook pages and other venues where they speak exclusively to each other.

      This blog is dedicated to telling the Polish story, and the wider Bohunk story, to the wider world.

      It can be done. At some point, Polonia will mature, and it will be done.

    2. With reference to Nemo's latest comment, I wonder how much of this Polish behavior of focusing on being victims is really natural to Poles, and how much of it is largely a reaction to other groups that have stolen the spotlight by elevating their victimhood to recognition in academia and media.

      As for Poles doing less complaining and more doing, it is interesting to note that the Endeks, in a book I had just reviewed (click on my name in this posting), themselves had rejected the scapegoating of Jews in favor of positive Polish political and economic action.


      I am all for the syllabi etc, that you seem to favor. IN fact, it so hard to find things written about the Slavic experience, that it is then hard to talk about it, which makes it all the harder to write/read about it, etc. Sort of a downward spiral really -- negative feedback loop.

      And this void is entirely in keeping (ie, your duct tape image above) with the Slavophobic milieu so necessary to pursue the Crimean War and the safety of Suez that was so important to British Imperialism (and later the Balfour Declaration), and then the antiBolshevik alliance, and then Munich/Sudetenland and the sitzkrieg (Go east young man.), and then the Cold War, and for that matter, post Cold War Slavophobe policies.

      Lack of knowledge of the history and experience of these people creates a blank screen upon which all sorts of distortions may more easily be projected for popular consumption, to the benefit of the manipulators and clients of the media, and academia.

      Strange that the legions of forwarding thinking academics laboring at the cutting edge, always pushing back the darkness and the frontiers of knowledge, have left us with this huge void in place of the history of the Slavic experience. Their confederates the media as well.

      Various over-represented groups writing about themselves again and again creates a positive feedback loop producing more of the same, and thus often out of proportion, and beyond reasonable self-control.

      Complaining (for other groups this would probably be called consciousness raising) and comparing experience, seeking mirroring in a culture which rarely mirrors our experience, and then only to distort it -- these are all valid in themselves, though hardly a complete adequate response, themselves too falling too far short of what is needed.

      Realize that some/much of this ("complaining") is doing for ourselves what for others is done for them by the media, much as we are variously asked to support others cultures/writings/books through our tax dollars, while our works and books are ignored. The ALA and libraries rarely give seminars or displays on the methods of censorship practiced by libraries themselves.

      As a corollary to your Bieganski, try to find some of Nadja Tesich's work in public, or even academic libraries..

      But more importantly, they ("complaining") too are not at all comparable to this ---- "worked very, very hard to make their concerns the academy's, and the wider society's, concerns." - - which in effect is not about mere verbal discussion, but rather about sucking dollars/attention-visibility out of the pockets/time-attention of their fellow citizens, to the benefit of the "empowered" and the detriment of the rest of us.

      Not comparable at all.

      The Polish input is I think merely a corrective to the skewed academedia groupthink and propaganda.

      But you are very right that a greater cultural visibility and profile is long overdue, and merely as a way of having a balanced and historically accurate perspective, ------ and not as a way of copying the exploitive, corrosive, and parasitic forms of "empowerment" programs and propaganda that the last 40-50 years of PC have given us.


    4. "Syllabi, library materials, college courses, journalism, politics: Poles and Polonians have been completely ineffectual in these fields."

      Yes, it must be the fault of the Slavs. Look at how simple and straightforward it was to do your Bieganski thesis and then publish it. All the encouragement you got, all the people there who publish forests of crap on a zillion topics -- they helped you too -- NOT.

      Note how easy it is to find all the works of Nadja Tesich in public and academic libraries.



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.
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