Monday, February 24, 2014

"Bieganski" Goes to Poland; High Castle Publishing to Publish "Bieganski" in Polish

Dear Polonian Friends and Colleagues,

Dumb Polacks, Poles as the world's worst anti-Semites, Polish concentration camps: what can we do about these stereotypes? Our proud immigrant ancestors, heroes like Jan Karski and Irena Sendler: how can we tell our story?

Today you don't have to wait for someone else to do something. Today you can be the someone who does something.

High Castle Publishing – Wydawnictwo Wysoki Zamek – plans to bring "Bieganski: The Brute Polak Stereotype in American Popular Culture and Polish-Jewish Relations" to Poland.

To do so, Jacek Tokarski needs several thousand dollars to fund translation.

Mr. Tokarski is currently approaching Polish institutions in search of those funds.

It would be testimony to Polonia's dedication and vitality if average Polonians could contribute, both in terms of funds and organizing.

Individual Polonians can do three things:

1.) Donate to High Castle's translation fund. You can contact Jacek Tokarski via his company's homepage here. You can also contact him via his Facebook page here, and the Wysoki Zamek Facebook page here.

2.) Distribute this appeal. Encourage other Polonians to donate to the translation fund.

3.) If you really want to make a significant contribution, consider setting up a Kickstarter page or a YouCaring page.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Don't send me any money! Other than posting this announcement, I will take no part in fundraising.

The funds go directly to Jacek Tokarski at High Castle Publishing, and he will devote the funds directly to translation.

After you donate, and after you disseminate this appeal, CONGRATULATE YOURSELF ON MAKING A DIFFERENCE. You didn't stand by and wait for someone else to make the world a better place. YOU made the world a better place.

Below please find a fundraising letter. Please do disseminate it widely. Thank you.


Dear Polonian Friends and Colleagues,

Polish concentration camps, dumb Polacks, Polack jokes, Poles as the world's worst anti-Semites: these anti-Polish stereotypes anger us and break our hearts. We know about the heroism of Poles like Witold Pilecki, Jan Karski and Irena Sendler. It is our duty to ensure that our story is told in media, in classrooms, and in the political arena. We want to do something, but what?

I write today to invite you to join in the fight against the brute Polak stereotype.

My name is Jacek Tokarski and I represent Wysoki Zamek publishing. We have published a number of books about World War II and the Holocaust in Poland. Now I'm asking you to help me bring to Polish audiences a prize-winning scholarly book that fights stereotyping.

"Bieganski: The Brute Polak Stereotype" smashes the stereotype of Poles as anti-Semitic brutes. "Bieganski" was first published in English as part of a series edited by Antony Polonsky, the world's premier scholar of Polish-Jewish relations. "Bieganski" has been endorsed by Rabbi Michael Herzbrun, Polish-American poet and professor John Guzlowski, and Prof. James P. Leary. Father John T. Pawlikowki, chair of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council's Subcommittee on Church Relations called "Bieganski" "An important contribution to improved Polish-Jewish understanding."

The Shofar Journal of Jewish Studies called it "Groundbreaking." American Jewish History said that Bieganski points out that the Brute Polak stereotype "gives the illusion of absolving those who failed in their own test of humanity" during the Holocaust. "Bieganski" was the subject of a cover story in Tygodnik Powszechny, and it won the PAHA Halecki Award.

Author Danusha Goska is a prize-winning writer who has been an invited speaker at Brandeis, Georgetown, Indiana University Bloomington, and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. "Bieganski" is the only scholarly book dedicated to demolishing the stereotype of Poles as the world's worst anti-Semites.

"Bieganski" will provide Polish readers with a new perspective on their own history, a perspective that they cannot gain from any other single source. They will understand Polish-Jewish relations as they never have before.

To realize the goal of publishing "Bieganski" in Poland in Polish, Wysoki Zamek must raise approximately $4000 to fund translation.

Donors will be recognized prominently in the book itself. Major donors will be thanked in the programs of any speaking engagements.

Please donate toward this worthy cause. Any amount can help. I am also asking you for help in identifying potential donors. The sooner we put the task of fundraising behind us, the sooner a Polish-language version of this important book can contribute to the fight against stereotyping.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Thank you. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Bieganski Lives: "The Majority of Polish Citizens Remain Anti-Semites to this Day"

I found this photo by doing a Google image search of the word "Skinhead." I'm afraid that for many people, this is the kind of image that enters their head when they hear the words "Pole" or "Polak" or "Poland." Source
Recently I "met" a very nice man online. We met in an internet environment that has nothing to do with Polish-Jewish anything. In fact, it was devoted to appreciation of the natural world.

This man was very helpful to me, and a nice person, as well. He has a photo online and he looks like a lovely human being.

I noticed that he had what looked to me like a surname from the part of the world that my parents came from.

I sent him a post asking about this. I mentioned that my last name (formerly gąska) is Polish for "little goose." I mention that I write about Polish-Jewish relations.

He wrote back, "Well, we should talk offline sometime. It’s an interesting topic: My wife still has strongly-held beliefs, based on the history of Poles during WWII, that the majority of Polish citizens remain anti-Semites to this day. I have no evidence one way or the other and remain neutral on the matter. It would be interesting to find data or research you’ve uncovered."

I mention this very brief anecdote because this has happened to me dozens, or maybe even hundreds, of times. I meet a new person in an environment that has nothing to do with Eastern Europe, I mention my own ethnicity or my research, and without any pause at all, I am immediately told some variation of "Poles are all anti-Semites."

My point is that the Bieganski stereotype is very much alive, and it behooves Polonia to take action to change that. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Watch This Space; Announcement Forthcoming

Poles and Polonians, watch this space. I'll be making an announcement that I want you to hear in about three days. Thank you. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Bieganski on Curtis and Kuby on WABC: Ron Kuby Paints All Ukrainians as Anti-Semitic Monsters as Ukrainians Fight for Freedom

Associated Press. Source: Huffington Post
In the third hour of today's "Curtis and Kuby" show on WABC, radio host Ron Kuby, speaking over what sounded like a Cossack choir, vividly depicted all Ukrainians as Bieganski-style brutes. Ukrainians are experts at pogroms, at killing Jews, at hatred and anti-Semitism. They are pro-Nazi. 

I phoned the show. I identified myself as the author of Bieganski. Kuby went into an impassioned rant. He more or less accused me of denying the existence of anti-Semitism or pogroms, which of course I did not do. I had had only seconds of airtime, and I merely identified myself as the author of Bieganski, and pointed out that Kuby was peddling hateful stereotypes at a time when Ukrainians are fighting for freedom. 

I attempted to respond to Kuby's lengthy, hateful rant. "Please remember that Leo Frank was lynched in the United States, but we don't denounce all Americans as anti-Semites." I attempted to point out that, in the past, Ukrainians tortured and massacred Polish Catholics, but I don't hate every Ukrainian I meet. I don't cultivate hatred or stereotyping of Ukrainians, as Kuby did. 

I don't think that that answer was heard on the air. I was given about ten seconds (not an exaggeration) of airtime. 

Ron Kuby's hate-mongering on WABC today, and his refusal to allow a voice that contradicted his own hateful one, at the very time Ukrainians are fighting for freedom and need international support, is despicable.

WABC is often identified as America's largest talk radio station. 

Here is a link to the show's homepage. If anyone finds contact information for the show, please send it along and I will post it. 

I hope that concerned readers will consider contacting WABC's Curtis and Kuby show. Kuby's cohost is Curtis Sliwa who is of Italian and Polish ancestry. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Bieganski and the Sochi Olympics

Al Bello Getty Images Source
Is Bieganski making an appearance in American press coverage of the Olympics in Sochi, Russia?

Americans often stereotype Eastern Europeans as brutes, ignorant, strong, low class, violent, drunken, and anti-Semitic. Is that Bieganski image popping up in American press coverage of the Olympics in Sochi, Russia?

I can't answer that because I lack the context. I don't watch the Olympics so I can't compare this Olympics coverage to coverage of the Olympics in China or England or America or anyplace else.

I do hear a lot of coverage focused on Bieganski-like qualities in Russia. This Olympics, we are told, is inept and brutish in a way that previous Olympics were not. I don't know if that is true.

The Washington Post ran an article talking about yellow tap water and a lack of toilet paper. I live in America and my tap water is often yellow. American reporters complain that at the Sochi Olympics visitors receive warnings that the tap water is dangerous. I live in America and our local water commission regularly sends us notices in English, Spanish, and Arabic telling us that our water contains unacceptable levels of lead, cryptosporidium, and fecal matter.

Russian journalist Masha Gessen appeared on Gabfest radio to discuss American coverage of the Sochi Olympics. She says that this is the real Russia, "the Russia that the world should see" that in Russia "everyday existence is demeaning and humiliating."

Other Russians, who are normally critical of Putin, have become more nationalistic in the face of American criticism of their country. Julie Ioffe wrote about that response in the New Republic here.

You can read the Washington Post article about reporters whining about yellow tap water in Sochi here.

Magdalena Pasnikowska sent in this link with fake Sochi pictures.

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Polish Jewish Love Story in "Love on the Road" Anthology for Valentine's Day!

The Anthology "Love on the Road 2013" is an anthology of twelve tales of love and travel. It includes a love story by me. My love story is non-fiction and it depicts love between a Polish-Slovak-American woman (me) and a Jewish man. 

The anthology is well-reviewed here. This review opens with a quote from my story. Here's the quote: "my message will make sense to those who are willing to listen with an open heart, who appreciate contradiction, nuance, and who recognize that in life there is very rarely black and white, but only shades of grey."

You can buy the anthology at Amazon here.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Response from Rabbi Michael Lerner

Rabbi Michael Lerner

Rabbi Michael Lerner kindly offered this response to the previous series of blogs, visible here, here, here, and here. I have cut and pasted Rabbi Lerner's response, below, with no additions or subtractions, except for adding a few line breaks to make for easier reading.

***From Rabbi Michael Lerner***

While few of us spiritual progressives or progressive Jews believe that ALL Poles were antiSemitic, and fewer still deny that there was a section of the Polish people who participated in resistance to the Nazi occupation of Poland, we have considerable reason to believe that Polish anti-Semitism, like French, German, Dutch, Hungarian, Latvian, Estonian, Ukrainian and Russian anti-Semitism

was deeply rooted in Polish culture and popular opinion, that it played a role in the way that some significant section of Poles were willing to collaborate with Nazis in the hunting down and extermination of Jews, as well as in the failure of the Polish resistance forces to give adequate support to the Warsaw Ghetto rebellion, as well as in the perception held by Polish communists that in order to maintain power in the post WWII years that it would be wise for them to purge Jews from the Communist Party leadership and in other ways play along with Polish anti-Semitism

not to mention the pogroms against Jews that spontaneously erupted after WWII in 1945 when hundreds of Jews were murdered when they tried to reclaim their homes from the Poles who had stolen them once their Jewish neighbors were sent to the gas chambers. Denying this documented aspect of Polish racism is as irrational as Americans denying the strong strains of anti-african-american racism that played a decisive role in American history up till the Civil Rights movement and continues toplay a role covertly in giving support even at this very moment in the appeal of the political Right wing in American politics. 

*** End of Rabbi Lerner's comments. ***

Above, Rabbi Lerner wrote: "Denying this aspect of Polish racism is...irrational."

I am more depressed than I can say to read this from Rabbi Lerner. I am also deeply offended. I am offended for Jan Karski, Witold Pilecki, Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, Irene Sendler, Wiktoria Ulma, and countless other, often nameless Poles who risked their lives, endured torture and imprisonment, and sometimes died to save Jews. 

Rabbi Lerner, if you had read anything of this blog, including the previous posts that quote you, you would know that not I, not "Bieganski," my book, and not Bieganski the blog has ever "denied Polish racism." 

For heaven's sake, Rabbi. Others can read though you chose not to. A previous post that responds to you cites and links to blog posts on this blog that condemn anti-Semitism among Poles. Another link would have taken you to Wladyslaw Bartoszewski's heroic and amazing resistance to Polish anti-Semitism. His resistance took place under Nazism and Communism. As impressive as your achievements are, you can never say that you did what Bartoszewski did. 

My guess is that you didn't bother to read a word I wrote before you lectured me. 

You can treat me with such contempt and such -- yes -- racism because you are a powerful man and I am nothing but a voice crying in the wilderness. I have no one behind me. No institutional support. Just a book and a blog. 

Right is on the side of those fighting the Bieganski stereotype. Not on the side of those who refuse to hear, those who cling to hate, and hide behind self-righteousness. The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice. 

Bieganski and the Double Standard: Are Poles Really Stereotyped or are Poles Just Whiners?

Bieganski are Poles just whiny or is there really a double standard?

The previous three blog posts talk about Marian Marzynski's PBS Frontline documentary "Shtetl," my essay in response to it, and Tikkun Magazine's Rabbi Michael Lerner's response to my essay.

You can read those three blog posts here, here, and here.

One has to ask, is there really such a thing as stereotyping of Poles, or are Poles just whiners?

Yes, there really is such a thing as stereotyping of Poles. Yes, this stereotype distorts Holocaust, World War II, and immigration history, and, thus, it is of concern to any decent, informed person.

Yes, Poles are treated very much differently than members of other ethnic groups. That Poles are treated very much differently than members of other ethnic groups is demonstrated in chapter two of "Bieganski."

In the previous blog posts, linked above, I report on Rabbi Michael Lerner's response to stereotyping of Poles. In Rabbi Lerner's response, Poles deserve to be stereotyped, and Poles must prove their innocence. Further, Poles must do this in soundbites – they are allowed, maximum, a few thousand words.

How does Rabbi Lerner react – and how do others who share his worldview react – when members of other ethnic groups are stereotyped?

Chapter two of "Bieganski" quotes Rabbi Lerner extensively.

In November, 1993, Khalid Abdul Muhammad, of the Nation of Islam, made a virulently anti-Semitic speech at Kean College in New Jersey. His speech occurred during extensive tensions between African Americans and Jews. For example, there had been a riot in Crown Heights in 1991, sometimes labeled a pogrom, when a crowed of African Americans shouted "Kill the Jews." Yankel Rosenbaum was stabbed to death. Another man, mistaken to be a Jew, was also killed.

Some asked, is anti-Semitism a problem among African Americans?

As chapter two of "Bieganski" shows, Rabbi Michael Lerner was one of the many Jewish Americans who rushed forward to prevent any stereotyping of African Americans. Below is a very short excerpt from longer and more detailed comments found in chapter two of "Bieganski."

***Excerpt from "Bieganski" below***

Michael Lerner also suggested that Jews were using accusations of anti-Semitism among African Americans, in this case as "an excuse to deny our own racism toward blacks" and as "justification for some Americans to declare themselves 'disillusioned with the oppressed'" and to cut social programs for the poor…This trend of Jews as participants in, rather than victims of, black-Jewish relations veered into victim blaming. Blaming Jews for the anti-Semitism of blacks goes back at least to Michael Lerner's 1969 manifesto in Judaism, where he wrote: "black anti-Semitism ... is ... a tremendous disgrace to Jews, for this is ... rooted in the concrete fact of oppression by Jews of blacks in the ghetto. In short, this anti-Semitism is in part an earned anti-Semitism" (Lerner 475 1969). Lerner was ready with similar accusations to explain anti-Semitism among African Americans in 1994: "Jewish neoconservatives at Commentary and neoliberals at the New Republic have led the assault on affirmative action;" and Jews have "delighted in the prospect of throwing black women and children off welfare as soon as possible"

***End excerpt from "Bieganski."***

Around this same time, "Michael Lerner asked President Bush and the congress to cut off economic and political support to Poland"

Is there a double standard when it comes to Poles? Yes, there manifestly is.

Again, this four-part series of blog posts makes the following points:

Poles are stereotyped.

Poles face a Sisyphean task when confronting stereotyping.

The stereotyping of Poles distorts Holocaust, World War II, and immigration history and is, thus, of concern to any decent person.

Polonia's best course of action is not to blame anyone.

Please read these blog posts entitled "Stop Blaming the Jews" here and here.

What we should do is outlined here.

I have invited Rabbi Michael Lerner to respond to this series of blog posts and I welcome and will post any response from him or from his representative. I have also invited Prof. Michael Steinlauf, whose students appear` in "Shtetl." I would invite Marian Marzynski but I have no contact information for him. 

Rabbi Michael Lerner of Tikkun Responds to Bieganski-Style Stereotyping in "Shtetl"

Source and Artist Unknown; I found this on the web with no attribution. 

On April 17, 1996, the PBS series Frontline aired "Shtetl," a documentary by Marian Marzynski about Polish-Jewish relations. The PBS website for "Shtetl" is here.

I shared my response to "Shtetl" with the director of Indiana University's Polish Studies Center, Prof. Tim Wiles. Prof. Wiles encouraged me to publish my essay.

Prof. Wiles was at a loss, though, in recommending to me an appropriate venue. He couldn't think of any nationally known publications that would be interested in a Polish American perspective on PBS's skewed take on WW II and the Holocaust in Poland.

In my search, I contacted Jewish publications. One I contacted was Tikkun Magazine.

Tikkun's Rabbi Michael Lerner sent me an interesting response.

I address Rabbi Lerner's response in this blog post.

Why take time now to address a television documentary that aired almost twenty years ago?

Because, in the intervening years since "Shtetl" first aired, nothing has changed. Any Polonian writer attempting to address these issues would face the exact same quandary I faced back in 1996. When we do attempt to make our voices heard, we face the same objections that Rabbi Lerner voiced in response to me.

Please read the full text of my essay responding to Shtetl here.

Rabbi Lerner's letter to me in response to my "Shtetl" essay is one-and-a-half pages long, with a one-inch margin. It is single space. I mention this because it is an unusually long letter from an editor to a writer who has sent a query. Rabbi Lerner has much to say on this topic.

It's especially unusual that Rabbi Lerner wrote such a long letter to me because he states plainly in his first sentence that he has chosen not to publish my essay about "Shtetl."

Why send a lengthy, detailed letter to a writer you are rejecting?

Polish-Jewish relations arouse much passion. So much that even after telling a writer you won't publish her essay, you write her a lengthy letter that takes issue with her essay.

Rabbi Lerner says that my essay "doesn't even begin to confront the issues that have been raised about Polish collaboration with Nazis and the widespread anti-Semitism in Polish culture."

Rabbi Lerner goes on. He says my essay appears "in the face of a strong predisposition among Jews who had relatives in Poland to believe a different story than the one you tell."

Then Rabbi Lerner says that he might publish my essay, if I can make some changes.

Rabbi Lerner lists eight objections to my essay. He says if I can adequately address these charges, he will publish my essay.

I paraphrase Rabbi Lerner's list of objections, below. With permission from Rabbi Lerner I include a jpeg of the letter, but I think it might be hard to read. 

1. Rabbi Lerner wanted me to account for significant anti-Semitism in Polish society before the Nazi conquest.

2. I mentioned in my essay that before the Nazis arrived in eastern Poland, the Soviets had invaded first. After the Soviet invasion, Soviets deported large numbers of Poles to the interior of Russia. The exact number is in dispute. Estimates range from a third of a million to a million.

It is widely commented upon that Jews did sometimes greet invading Soviets with bread, salt, and flowers, and Jews did sometimes mock Poles, saying things like, "You have lost your independence and we celebrate that." Many argue that this unsympathetic, and even hostile reaction from Jews toward Poles when Poles were victimized by Russian Soviets disinclined Poles to feel sympathy when, later, Germans arrived and deported Jews.

In response to my mention of these Soviet deportations of ethnic Poles and some Jews' unsympathetic response, Rabbi Lerner wrote, "A significant number [of the Poles deported] were in fact pro-fascist forces or anti-Semites eager to destroy Jews…that might have effected whether Jews would protest their fate."

It strikes me as implausible to assert that between a third of a million and a million deported Polish victims of Soviet aggression were "pro-fascists" or "anti-Semites eager to destroy Jews." It strikes me as offensive to suggest that these largely innocent victims deserved their horrific fates in Soviet camps. I mean no offense to Rabbi Lerner, but his comment here does strike me as every bit as offensive as Holocaust denial.

There are a couple of previous blog posts about some of these Poles deported by Soviets. One is here. Another is here.

3. Rabbi Lerner wanted me to account for Jews who were "repudiated or even threatened by" Polish anti-Nazi resistance forces. He wanted me to account for Poles' failure adequately to aid the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. He wanted me to account for the Warsaw Uprising which was staged at a time when it could not help Jews.

4. Rabbi Lerner wanted me to account for those Polish peasants who did not respond adequately when Jews approached them to request aid. Rabbi Lerner wanted me to account for Polish partisans who "shared the anti-Semitism of the Nazis they were fighting."

5. Rabbi Lerner wanted me to account for the "absence of a more active resistance … compared, say, with resistance in France."

6. Rabbi Lerner wanted me to account for Poles "willingly becoming accomplices to the Nazis [who were] honored by fellow Poles."

7. Rabbi Lerner asked me to account for "Poles attacking Jews who had survived the camps when they returned to their villages … after the Nazis had been defeated."

8. Rabbi Lerner asked me to account for "the way that Polish communists adopted anti-Semitism … because in their estimation this would be a popular card to play that would bring them support with the Polish people."

Rabbi Lerner closed by saying that "Shtetl" did use "unfair techniques" but only to "elicit a truth that is widely known." Given that it is widely known that Poles are brutish anti-Semites, "how deep ought one's outrage be?" Rabbi Lerner asked rhetorically, suggesting that one's outrage at the stereotyping of Poles need not be deep at all. Poles deserve to be stereotyped as subhuman, because, after all, they are. No, Rabbi Lerner does not say that specifically, but that is his implication.

Rabbi Lerner, in closing, says, "If you can answer these concerns in this piece, without significantly lengthening it (perhaps by revising some parts and cutting other parts), I'd be happy to consider the piece."


I cannot devote space in this blog entry to the line between stereotype, half-truth, and distortion in Rabbi Lerner's list of concerns.

I can say that decent persons have always acknowledged the existence of anti-Semitism in Poland, and have always resisted it. The work of one such person, Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, is described in this blog post. Jozef and Wiktoria Ulma are discussed here.

Neither this blog nor "Bieganski" the book is part of any effort to deny anti-Semitism anywhere. Rather, "Bieganski" the book and blog is about a fight against distortion and stereotyping.

In fact, I have addressed all of the concerns Rabbi Lerner lists, above. I address them in the book "Bieganski: The Brute Polak Stereotype in American Popular Culture and Polish-Jewish Relations."

"Bieganski" is a book. Only a book-length work could adequately address all the points Rabbi Lerner lists, above.

Rabbi Lerner demanded that I address all those points while also addressing the dehumanizing stereotyping and historical distortion in Marzynski's "Shtetl."

The task that Rabbi Lerner demanded of me is Sisyphean. It is a task that can never be accomplished.

Please note: Rabbi Lerner did not guarantee that he would publish my essay even if I did address every point he mentioned. He said he would only consider it.

That's pretty much how it works with Bieganski. Poles stand accused. They must somehow compress language into soundbites, and address the entire mix of facts and distortions in Rabbi Lerner's letter. Only then may their application to be spoken of as human beings be considered. But their application may still be rejected.

Why talk about it here?

Because all Poles are stereotyped. Because all Poles are assumed to be anti-Semitic brutes. Because all Poles are called upon to do what Rabbi Lerner demanded, above. And because these distortions distort WW II and Holocaust history, and that matters to everyone.

The accusations:

Tell me why you didn't resist the Nazis, as the French did!

Tell me why I should care that the Soviets deported you Poles, when you were all just a bunch of fascist anti-Semites who deserved to be deported!

Tell me why none of you helped the Jews during the Ghetto Uprising!

And when Poles don't answer these questions to their accusers' satisfaction, they are categorized as brutes, as Bieganski.


What should we do?

First, we should not blame others, including Jews. Please read these blog posts entitled "Stop Blaming the Jews" here and here.

What we should do is outlined here

Rabbi Michael Lerner's February, 2014 to this series of blog posts is here.

Marian Marzynski's "Shtetl" in "Bieganski" Book Excerpt

Father Piotr Sosnowski, Tuchola, Poland. Source: USHMM Museum
A previous blog post discusses Marian Marzynski's PBS Frontline documentary "Shtetl." That blog post can be found here.

"Bieganski: The Brute Polak Stereotype" also discusses the film "Shtetl." Below is a brief excerpt of that discussion. "Bieganski" is available at Amazon here.

*** Excerpt from "Bieganski"***

Marian Marzynski's 1996 documentary Shtetl created a black-and-white portrait of a Polish town, Bransk, populated by powerful and evil Poles and powerless and virtuous Jews. Though the film covers World War Two, Nazis hardly appear. Viewers reported that hating Poles and Poland per se was the virtuous response. "This film clearly illustrates the basis for my prejudice toward the Polish People. For many years, I harbored feelings of guilt concerning my opinions of the Polish People. Upon viewing the film, I feel completely absolved..." (PBS Shtetl "Feedback"). Marzynski boasted, "a running camera never changes the truth" (PBS Shtetl "Questions"). Conversely, American director Brian de Palma once observed, "The camera lies all the time. It lies 24 times a second" (James).

Zbigniew Romaniuk, a historian who had worked with Marzynski on the film, asked Marzynski why key data had been left out. Why did Marzynksi not mention that a Pole, in accord with Nazi edict, was executed for owning a radio? Why no mention Henryk Opiatowski, the Polish priest killed for helping Jews? Why did Marzynski not mention the wider, and historically deep-rooted, German, anti-Polonist terror that these murders typified? Why did Marzynski not mention that Nazis were not Bransk's only invaders? When Soviets had invaded earlier, trumpeting, and acting on, an ages-old determination to wipe out Poland and Russify the area, Jews collaborated to the extent of supplying fifty percent of the Soviet police. Many such questions followed. All had one point. Why had Marzynski reduced a full-color reality to black-and-white (PBS Shtetl "Letter from Zbigniew Romaniuk to Marian Marzynski")?

Marzynski brushed off Romaniuk's many questions with a simple reply: "I didn't have a choice." The alert reader will note Marzynski's declaration of his own powerlessness. One must follow the rules to create compelling narrative. "Without strong characters and a plot involving them, you and I would put our viewers to sleep" (PBS Shtetl "Marzynski's Response"). By "strong characters," the reader can understand, "contrasting characters." Marzynski gave his audience what it craved, what audiences have always craved: two opposite characters, in this case, one empowered and evil, the other powerless and virtuous.

*** End of Excerpt from "Bieganski." ***

Father Opiatowski was not the only priest murdered in Bransk by the Nazis.

According to this website:

Fr. Henry Opiatowski Born June 1, 1907, the chaplain of the Polish Army. Was shot 15 July 1943 in Bielsko Podlaski for hiding Jews, who escaped from the Brańsk Ghetto and for helping the Soviet soldiers. He was killed together with Bl. Fr. Anthony Borowski and Father Ludwikiem Olszewski and 47 residents of Bielsko Podlaskie. Despite such repression, another vicar in Brańsk - Fr. Joseph Chwalko risked his life to rescue the family of Leib Shapiro.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Bieganski and PBS Frontline's Shtetl

On April 17, 1996, the PBS series Frontline aired "Shtetl," a documentary by Marian Marzynski about Polish-Jewish relations. The PBS website for "Shtetl" is here.

I shared my response with the director of Indiana University's Polish Studies Center, Prof. Tim Wiles. Prof. Wiles encouraged me to publish my essay.

Prof. Wiles was at a loss, though, in recommending to me an appropriate venue. He couldn't think of any nationally known publications that would be interested in a Polish American perspective on PBS's skewed take on WW II and the Holocaust in Poland.

Prof. Wiles' quandary should give concerned Polonians food for thought. Consider: Poles and Polish Americans are grotesquely stereotyped and misrepresented in treatments of WW II and the Holocaust. This stereotyping distorts Holocaust and WW II history. No nationally known publication would be interested in publishing a response by a Polish-American scholar to such stereotyping.

Would something similar ever be said about stereotyping of African Americans or Muslim Americans? Why are Polish-Americans so unsuccessful at making their voices heard on this key issue?

Further, why do Polish-American poets like John Guzlowski and Christina Pacosz, essayists, fiction writers, etc, find it so hard to reach audiences with their work?

Polonia would benefit from founding and supporting appropriate publications.

In my search, I contacted Jewish publications. One I contacted was Tikkun Magazine.

Tikkun's Rabbi Michael Lerner sent me an interesting response, which I hope to address in a subsequent blog post.

For now, I'd like to republish, here, my almost two-decade-old response to "Shtetl."

By the way, in the essay, below, I mention that Poles confronted armored German cars with cavalry. This is true. On the first day of World War II, Polish cavalry did confront armored German cars.

Internet sites point out that Germans and Russians used the idea that Polish cavalry charged German tanks as proof that Poles were stupid. See Wikipedia here.

It goes without saying that I do not mention the Polish cavalry to demean Poles. Rather, I mention it because Poland was indeed a post-colonial nation, poor and ill-equipped, and it fought the Germans with everything it had. It simply didn't have enough military hardware. I honor those Poles who fought Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia.

Below I give three million as the number of non-Jewish Poles killed during WW II. Since 1996, that number has been revised downward.

Below is the full text of my response to "Shtetl."


On April 17, 1996, PBS aired Marian Marzynski's documentary of Jewish life in Poland, "Shtetl." Letters to the PBS web page revealed that Poles, Jews, and non-Polish or Jewish Americans reacted to the film very differently. Typical letters included one from a Jewish viewer who said: "This film clearly illustrates the basis for my prejudice toward the Polish People (sic). For many years, I harbored feelings of guilt concerning my opinions of the Polish People. Upon viewing the film, I feel completely absolved … "

An American viewer, neither Polish nor Jewish, wrote: "if the Poles really want to be free … they must learn to admit their terrible contribution to the Holocaust."

A Polish letter-writer voiced fear of "a lynch mob … The world vs Poland." Similar expressions of Polish pain were taken as evidence of an "ingrained" Polish anti-Semitism; that Poles "LIED" (sic).

Marzynski claimed that "a running camera never changes the truth." "The Eternal Jew," an anti-Jewish propaganda film, was also created with a running camera. Can a running camera lie?

Polish Peasants as Other

Marzynski enters homes and farmyards, pointing his camera at peasants who may have never seen such a contraption before. His exhibits have not been prepped for their fifteen minutes of fame. They have lived their lives outside of any free international conversation of academia and commerce. For most of their lives, contact with that conversation would have resulted in severe punishment, even death.

A few telling scenes brought home differences between the observer and the observed. For example: a Jewish American enters a house, unannounced. The inhabitant, a Polish peasant, rises, embraces the man, kisses him, and then asks, "I beg you, sir, who are you?"

Americans, media drenched, formally educated, and multi-cultural, intuitively know when and how to alter their speech. An American will vary, in tone, style, and vocabulary, what he says to a police officer after being read Miranda rights, or to a joke told in a locker room. Whether listening to a politician in campaign season or a fisherman talking about the one that got away, Americans know to factor in context when deciding the truth or appropriateness of discourse produced in their own culture.

Without adequate contextualization, Americans could never know one driving force that informs peasant discourse: a religious resignation to powerlessness and lack of personal consequence. These peasants' words have never been attended to; their very body language of hunched shoulders reminds the attentive viewer that they have never had powers regarded by Americans as basic. The viewer is not introduced to the adaptive quality of peasant resignation; Marzynski and his viewers are not there to learn. These "people with no education" "must be taught," he has said. First, they must be made spectacles before an international audience.

Marzynski recorded alien peasants reciting formulaic responses to questions about Jews. Jews were good with money; Jews have distinctive noses; Jews talk a lot. These scenes precede Holocaust survivor accounts. A cause and effect relationship is created. The Polish peasant is placed on a narrative trajectory whose telos we know to be the Holocaust. Letters to PBS reveal that viewers were shocked – shocked! – by these formulaic expressions of ethnic stereotypes, and concluded that Polish peasants were responsible for the Holocaust.

As a folklorist who has lived and worked among peasants in Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe, I was not shocked. However modern Americans may feel about it, old people who have mastered the jokes and proverbs that reinforce ethnic stereotypes are the peasant community's version of an anthropology Ph.D. Had Marzynski run his camera in any traditional village in the world, he could have recorded similar and even more outlandish stereotypes, expressed in equally ready formulas. In Nepal I was told by a Chhetri woman that Gurungs "have no noses, keep large dogs, and will eat you for dinner after boiling you in a big pot!"

Had Marzynski kept his camera running in Poland, he could have gathered many, to us, outlandish and formulaic expressions about non-Jews. Jews are smarter than Poles, a Polish proverb runs, but Armenians are smarter than Jews, and Greeks are smarter than Armenians. Too, Polish Catholics tell many bitter and painful jokes about Polish Catholics – jokes in which Poles are stupid, Poles betray each other, and Poles lose.

Marzynski could have provided a vital bit of context by turning his camera the other way. A Jewish UC Berkeley anthropologist once assured me that I could not possibly be a Polish Catholic because I can read. My advisor, a world famous professor and a Polish-American Jew, told a Polak joke to a class of three hundred applauding undergraduates. During a funding interview a professor suggested that since I was Polish I was probably anti-Semitic and therefore, perhaps, not to be funded. Recently, a lovely young Jewish woman told me, completely unselfconsciously, that she teaches her Sabbath school students about Polish people by telling them Polak jokes.

Recording incidents like these on film and interweaving them in any discussion of Jewish-Polish relations would serve a key need. Seeing modern, obviously "good" and highly educated Americans utilizing currently acceptable stereotypes might bring the viewer to a more immediate and intimate understanding of the vexed human condition he or she shares with those very foreign Polish peasants. Instead, stereotyping was located in the bodies of old men and women who speak an alien tongue and have caked dirt under cracked fingernails – shown in lingering close-up.

We need a careful analysis of the role stereotypes played in the Holocaust. This film is not that study. Instead, "Shtetl" is the deployment of another stereotype: that of the ignorant, morally retarded, brutal Pole. The qualities of peasant life the camera lingers over in "Shtetl": earth – underfoot, on faces and clothing; livestock; roughly hewn speech; can be embraced by a film maker who wishes to help the modern viewer penetrate this alien world and gain intimacy in discoveries of shared humanity. Sometimes, as in an Aer Lingus commercial, a glossy post card from Nepal, or the illustration on a box of Celestial Seasonings tea, these very aspects of peasantry are marketed to represent mystical virtues sadly lacking in modern society. In "Shtetl," the viewers' visit to a Polish peasant village is, as Marzynski put it, "a trip into the darkness of the human soul." Polish peasantry is a receptacle of primitive evil – something wholly other from the viewer, that must be accused, in the name of a virtue which the evolved viewer represents and which the primitive and alien peasant lacks.

This stereotype is an old one. U.S. immigration law was based on it. In the 1920's, detailed ethnographic descriptions of Eastern European peasants were read into the Congressional record. Proof of their racially inferior status was provided by the dirt on their bodies, their lack of shoes and teeth, their simple abodes, their flaxen and woolen clothing. Franz Boas, the father of American anthropology, deputized a team to measure heads in Galicia. These measurements would clarify the otherwise inexplicable inferiority of the Polish immigrant. Like Marzynski, Boas was applying currently acceptable theory and method. Boas did not factor in to his calculations the mass starvation in Galicia, or that his subjects had been freed from serfdom only sixty years before.

The view of Eastern European peasants as evolutionary primitives who must be geographically quarantined cut short immigration, and informed U.S. policy towards Eastern Europe when it was under attack by both Fascism and Communism. It is, of course, the root of the Polak joke. Reflection on this history of exploitation of stereotypes, not by peasants, but by highly educated and very powerful people, might help the Jewish viewer to understand the pain Polish gentiles feel when watching "Shtetl."

"Anti-Semitic Poles"

In academic and journalistic circles, the words "Pole" and "Anti-Semite" have become synonymous. In a headline, The New York Times characterized "Shtetl" as a film about "Polish Anti-Semites" in spite of its inclusion of Poles who rescued Jews. In that same issue, the Times wrote of the popularity of swastikas and other anti-Semitic graffiti in our nation's capital without using the words: "American Anti-Semites."

When Poles express pain at this stereotype, as they have in reaction to "Shtetl," their pain is taken as further incrimination. Some Polish letter writers to PBS apparently felt pressure to denounce fellow Poles in order to gain respect and credibility; many protested that the "child-like" "stupid" "disheveled" peasants of "Shtetl" were not appropriate representatives of Poland.

A wider focus on the history of anti-Semitism provides other interpretations of Polish pain. Poles ask, for example, why it is that the Inquisition and the continued existence of crypto-Jews throughout the Spanish speaking world, why the embrace in Latin America of men like Mengele, has not given us the stereotype of the anti-Semitic Spaniard. Blood libel was an English invention, canonized in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales; Shakespeare gave us Shylock. Disraeli, though a Christian, never stopped being "the Jew." During the relatively benign German occupation of the Channel Islands, Britons, both civilians and government authorities, cooperated extensively with the Nazis, and exported British Jews to their death in Auschwitz. Still, we cling to our Mrs. Miniver stereotype, and see no headlines about "anti-Semitic Britons." The Simon Wiesenthal Center has repeatedly protested Japanese claims of a Jewish conspiracy to destroy Japan, a country with no significant history of Jewish settlement. There is no formula: "anti-Semitic Japanese."

Stereotypes are created through strategically narrow focus and lack of context. Anyone combing pages of Polish history searching for incidents of Polish-Jewish violence will find them. They may find more incidences of anti-Semitism in Poland because, before World War II, the largest Jewish community in the world lived in the territory of the old Polish Commonwealth. Poles read the existence of this large and vibrant community as proof of relative tolerance.

Widen the focus, attempt a deductive study of Poles as human beings rather an inductive gathering of evidence to support a pre-conceived stereotype, and you will find violent struggle to be a staple of life in Poland. Poles have fought vicious ethnic battles with Ukrainians, Germans, and Russians. In this country, street gangs of immigrant Poles fought the hated "Johnny Bulls," Americans of British ancestry. In The Polish Peasant in Europe and America, the authors report that any policeman who entered a Polish immigrant saloon risked being killed. Poles have not only fought with other ethnic groups, but among themselves. In the Massacre of 1846, Austrian colonizers exploited class tensions and offered Polish peasants ten florins for the heads of Polish noblemen. So many were brought that the bounty was reduced to two florins. In 1970's America, a Polish-American anthropologist who wanted to study a Polish community in Detroit found it difficult to get housing, because he was seen as an outsider.

An analysis of whom Poles have fought and why might deconstruct the apparently needful stereotype of the anti-Semitic Pole and introduce us to the embattled Pole who fights everywhere, and feels safe nowhere. It should not surprise us to discover that a poor and disempowered people have often lashed out at whomever was nearest and whomever was seen as threatening whatever scratch of earth they had temporarily secured.

Recently a professor at my campus, who was neither Polish nor Jewish, made passing comments about "Polish anti-Semites." I objected to her typification and suggested she might want to learn more about the region. She was dismissive. "Poland? Czech Republic? Ukraine? They weren't even countries! I don't know about them because I don't care about them." The anti-Semitic Pole stereotype is regarded as a pertinent nugget of wisdom – rather than a potentially damaging stereotype that needs deconstruction – by academics who know nothing else about Eastern Europe.

In "Shtetl," Romaniuk, an historian interested in Jewish issues, complains that villagers have scratched the word "Jew" on his office wall. I knew how Americans and Jews would read that scene. The filmmaker never introduced viewers to the reading that sprang to my mind, given my familiarity with the wider cultural context.

In Poland I attended a party for a boy named Witek. He was going to Germany. The party was a kind of wake. To acquire his visa, Witek had to sign a piece of paper denouncing any Polish identity. Everyone at the party was sad and conflicted. They had to express regret that Witek had denounced his Polishness. In their heart of hearts, though, I knew many were envious. Witek would have a superior material existence in Germany, and, given the pollution of his native Slask, he would probably enjoy a longer life.

Having a despised and embattled identity, and knowing that one must disavow that identity to grasp a decent life, does wound Poles. When a Pole says, "Are you one of them now?" and the "them" in question can be Germans or Americans or Jews – the question may mean, "Have you abandoned the communal work we do of protecting and maintaining an identity that has caused us so much pain, but brought us the only real pride we can lay claim to?" "Are you one of them now?" As an aspiring academic, I have heard this very question from my own parents. Without context, no American listening would understand.

Information about Poles as Poles, especially Polish peasants, is not readily available. As Marzynski says: "Nobody could follow a story of an obscure little town in Poland." Most Poles were peasants, many illiterate, right up to the end of World War II. Most Polish immigrants in this country have been of peasant stock, and have been shunted into work in heavy industry. These are poor people, just getting by, only now completing B.A. and Ph.D. programs. They find relatively little money for or interest in study of Eastern European peasantry. The material Polish-Americans or anyone else encounters about Polish peasants is likely to be like "Shtetl:" a treatment in which Eastern European peasants appear only long enough to provide the target for a pointing finger. Unlike the Spanish, British, Germans, French – all nations whose histories are stained with anti-Semitism – the view of Polish peasants as anti-Semitic goons is not countered by the fame of a Mozart or a Shakespeare or a Napoleon. These peasants have their moments of transcendence, too, of art and wisdom, compassion and beauty, but foreign cameramen do not arrive to record and market those.

Context v. Revision

I approached a Jewish friend. I wanted to discuss "Shtetl" with her. Her responses were clipped and tinged with atypical hostility. She mentioned the low rate of Nazi collaboration among the Danes. I asked her to remember that unique laws obtained in Poland; that in Poland alone, anyone who helped a Jew in even the smallest way would be killed, as would their whole family for three generations. My friend looked shocked. Apparently she did not know this. And she teaches Holocaust studies.

In "Shtetl," a Polish peasant regales Jack Rubin, a Holocaust survivor, with an account of being cheated by his father. Rubin cannot listen. He turns away. "Do not speak ill of the dead," our culture commands. How much more unseemly to speak ill of Europe's Jews, who died tragically while the world only watched. In any popular narrative of the Holocaust, Jews cannot play bad or even ambiguous characters.

As historian Romaniuk pointed out, Marzynski downplayed the danger posed by Nazis. With the Nazis removed from the stage, a narrative vacuum drafts as villain the only other character present. When we mention Polish collaborators, we fill our narrative demand for a villain. If we mention that there were Jewish collaborators in every ghetto, we blaspheme. The historian must jump in immediately to provide insight into the pressures that drove some Jews to collaborate. Any analysis of pressures and tensions faced by Christian Poles would be an act of perversion. A Polish writer to PBS claimed that during the 1939-1941 Soviet occupation, one million Poles were arrested, deported, and/or killed, without organized aid from Jews. To include this in the narrative would defame the hallowed dead. The Pole must emerge as an unmotivated ethnic Iago.

Poles have abundant historical bases for regarding World War II as their unparalleled national tragedy. Poland suffered more than any other country during the war. Nazism was not only an expression of a long standing anti-Semitism, but a German Drang nach Osten that preceded Christianity. Poles honor the immeasurably tragic, and immeasurably heroic sacrifices of this era with the same kind of rhetorical reverence Jack Rubin, and most Americans, observe when discussing the Holocaust. Haranguing Poles with accounts of collaborators violates sacred narrative ground, and cannot lead to dialogue.

When American students are provided with the "Anti-Semitic Pole" stereotype as an academically respectable historic axiom, they tend to fill in their own cultural and historical ignorance by applying models with which they are familiar. One young American assured me that life in Poland was like life in the ante-bellum south, with Poles playing the role of the masters, and Jews the African Americans. In this scenario, Poles were required to acknowledge their power, privilege, and guilt. That they had not yet done so was proof of their continued moral retardation. The solution, in my friend's assessment, was for concerned outsiders to harangue Poles until they confessed.

Again, Jewish and Polish historians know that most Poles were serfs through most of the nineteenth century. Jews who worked for the serfs' masters had rights and privileges that many Poles did not have, including, at one point, the right of life or death over the master's peasants. When Poles attempt to speak of the fears they felt of, for example, perceived Jewish dominance in the professions, or the relation Jews had with Poland's occupying powers, their words are not met as efforts to understand a complex historical relationship. Instead, those who lack cultural or historical context automatically label Polish fears as the paranoid or fascist ravings of "ingrained" anti-Semites.

Here's a scene I would like to see in the next "Shtetl," the next "Shoah." The crusading cameraman asks a Polish peasant: "What is the first invasion, famine, plague, exile, slavery, that you remember?" The peasant might refer to the famines of early in this century that starved tens of thousands every year, and prompted an exodus "for bread." Or World War One, in which Poland was a colonized battleground between warring powers, and the plagues that followed. He might know some history and, then, he could recount an endless cycle of one invasion or uprising per generation, followed by mass arrests, public executions, watching thousands of his fellow Poles driven to exile.

Then the researcher might ask: "Tell me about the German occupation." Many old timers cannot speak about this time. They don't like to remember being starved and tortured and shot at random. If they do speak, you may see weathered faces assuming childlike expressions. It is the helplessness of childhood, not its innocence or joy. Seeing this expression on faces battered by time and harsh lives, in conjunction with narratives of irrational, agonized experience, can be profoundly terrifying and sickening.

Then the researcher must ask: "Were you a hero? Or did you succumb to terror? Were you scared when suddenly confronted with the technology of modern warfare in a newly post-colonial nation that sent cavalry against armored German cars? Tell me why you didn't save the Jews." The researcher might know that three million Polish gentiles died, also, if so, he could throw in: "Why didn't you save your mother, your son, your wife, your best friend?" Of course, this Pole himself was under occupation, slated for extinction, allowed only starvation rations. It would perhaps confuse things too much to ask why he didn't save himself.

Then the Polish peasant will have his opportunity to make his confession of moral failure to the American television viewers, who are sitting at home with their chips and dip, poised to give thumbs up or thumbs down. When the Pole does not confess to this camera which has suddenly appeared amidst his cows and pigs, Americans can write his intransigence off as further evidence of guilt.

"Shtetl": The Audience

Who are Americans, the presumed father confessors for the sinful Poles? Many Poles know that America closed the door to Polish immigrants, both Jew and Gentile, in 1924, on the basis of their presumed racial inferiority. These racist American laws were inspiring to and studied by Adolf Hitler. In 1942, shortly after the extermination of Europe's Jews was reported on page ten of the New York Times, (and not covered in other mainstream media) Americans identified Jews as the third greatest threat to national security, after the Germans and Japanese. When Jewish children sought refuge in America, Laura Franklin Delano, cousin of the president, said that these "twenty thousand charming children would all too soon grow into twenty thousand ugly adults." The American government denied entry. Jan Karski, a Polish gentile, at great risk to his own life, made an eyewitness report of the Holocaust to the president. America, with this information and all its power – and under no foreign occupation – did nothing to directly stop the destruction of Poland or the genocide of the Jews.

Poles know of Yalta, though perhaps many letter writers to PBS do not. Polish soldiers made significant contributions to the allied cause in battles across Europe and Asia; the allies delivered their nation to Stalin. Stalin's human victims will eventually be forgotten. Stalinism's damage to Polish soil, water, and air, can never be. Lead, mercury, cadmium, aluminum; the percentage of oxygen in the air: words I heard from some young Polish women who told me they wanted to leave Poland before conceiving and giving birth.

Marzynski in "Shtetl", Lanzmann in "Shoah," and western television viewers, do not arrive in their clean clothes and well fed tummies to celebrate the peasant's endurance, to learn the secrets of undiscovered lives. They arrive to demand from the Polish peasant a confession of his cowardice, stupidity and defeat. Polish intellectuals must confess the diagnostically flawed nature of Polish culture and Polish history. It is unlikely that this ritual of shaming, this weird morality play worked with video cams and Polish peasants, will provide the American television audience with the satisfaction it demands.

Modern American discourse flows with the daytime talk show ethos of therapeutic public confession. Blessed with a security so abundant they needn't be aware of it, Americans can take their place on the assembly line, process their story publicly, and hear others' tales, in a warm and teary environment of embraces and forgiveness, something like a public bath. No such safe, multi-vocalic atmosphere has ever existed in Poland. There an ethos of epic and heroism still reigns. At a recent discussion of Polish-Jewish relations, a Polish professor began to cry. "I'm sorry," she began, in English, not quite the "I beg you, sir," of her native Polish. "But people in my family were slaves during World War II. Many Polish Catholics were enslaved." Not a long statement, and something that everyone knew, but it obviously pained her to say it. It wasn't just the remembered pain that hurt her, but the agony of announcing this publicly: We weren't all heroes; some Poles were slaves.

God, honor, country: values Poles are socialized to defend above all. Polish history has many proud moments of inviting Jews when, elsewhere, they were persecuted. Those are the moments Poles chose to speak of when they have their brief and awkward moments in the American public eye. That is the appropriate, heroic story. They choose these stories because anti-Semitism is a shame, a crime. When "they" – outsiders – paint Poles, Poland, and Polish culture as diagnostically anti-Semitic, the embattled motherland is defamed once again. And the appropriately socialized Pole feels constrained to rise to her defense.


That's the end of my "Shtetl" essay from 1996. I'm sorry more Polish-Americans never got a chance to read it.

As mentioned, above, my plan is to post a reply to Rabbi Lerner's letter to me. He explained why he chose not to publish my essay, above, in Tikkun Magazine.

Shtetl's, and PBS' dehumanization and stereotypification of Poles is exemplified in the photograph, above. I found it on the linked WGBH webpage page. It is clearly a photograph of two human beings. One looks to be Zbigniew Romaniuk, a Polish man. The photo's caption identifies only one man, Marian Marzynski. I am viewing this photo on February 8, 2014. I hope WGBH will feel duty bound to alter their caption. 

There is a follow-up blog post here with an excerpt from "Bieganski"'s discussion of "Shtetl" and mention of the priests that died in Bransk aiding Jews.

There is a follow-up blog post here discussing Rabbi Michael Lerner of Tikkun and his response to this essay. 

A follow-up post asking if there really is a double standard appears here.

Rabbi Michael Lerner's response from February, 2014 is here.