Friday, June 5, 2015

"The Jokes About Polish Stupidity Were Worse Than Anything Said In Public About Blacks" - Prof. Jerry Hough

Pulaski Day Parade by Andre Spatz Source
Recently political science professor Jerry Hough of Duke, which is classified as a "near Ivy League" university, was at the center of a nationwide controversy. In May, 2015, Prof. Hough left a comment in the comments section of a New York Times article about the Baltimore riots.

Prof. Hough compared the differing achievement levels, struggles, and strategies of various ethnic groups in America. He mentioned Polish-Americans and Michael William "Mike" Krzyzewski, aka Coach K, who coaches basketball at Duke.

I wrote to Prof. Hough. He wrote back and he shared with me the two communications, below, that he had written to respond to people who had criticized him. In both he mentions Polish-Americans. With permission, I post both here. I have bolded the portions that refer to Polish-Americans.

Dear Jonathan (of AP):

…I absolutely do not think it racist to ask why black performance on the average is not as good as Asian on balance, when the Asians started with the prejudices against the "yellow races" shown in the concentration camps for the Japanese. They were "colored" and segregated in the South like the more familiar colored. Why did they overcome? Why did King liberate them more than he did the blacks? That is how I ended the comment.

The jokes about polish stupidity were worse than anything said in public about blacks. How did Coach K and others respond to them. (I really would like you to quote something on my great, great admiration for K in addition to his coaching ability. It is also in the letter I add to the end). I do not think the answer is genetics, but must be cultural. After so many decades, I do not think it is white racism which the Asians also were subject to. The time has come to improve the situation.

I graduated from college in 1955 and my cause was always black integration. As a child, I often was taken back to Asheville. I saw the segregation that ended only in 1965. That is what we should be apologizing about to every southern black over 60 who remembers it, not meaningless self-righteous apologies for slavery 150 years ago…

Duke should be apologizing about the maids sitting in the back of the bus from East to West campus and having segregated toilets and fountains. It admitted blacks only in 1962 or 1963 and then because JFK made moon rocket contracts dependent on it. UNC had to integrate because of Brown v. Board of Education because it was public, but private universities did not have to until the 1964 Civil Rights Bill.

My purpose is to help achieve the battle of King's battle to overcome and create a melting pot America. I think that the diversity which the President and Duke promote reflects Malcolm X's vision, and it is a major reason the blacks have done worse than Asians. I think the coalitional policy of the Democratic party as it has swung to the right of Richard Nixon on economic issues is the underlying reason. Elizabeth Warren was (and is) a Nixon Republican on domestic and foreign policy. She is now the extreme left wing of the Democrats. That I have and am writing books about…

Sincerely, Jerry

Letter to a critic who said she might not send her daughter to Duke because I was so awful.:

…I have been at Duke for 40 years and was a disciple of Martin Luther King in the 1950s. I am very disappointed in the lack of progress that I have seen. So I think would Dr. King. 60 years since Montgomery is a long time to say, as you do, that the current black experience is the result of them not being voluntary immigrants. That was over 200 years ago. The implication of what you say is that since the Hispanics are voluntary immigrants, and the illegals especially daring ones at that, the blacks will never be able to compete with then in the long run. I am not so pessimistic if blacks will reject the attitude expressed in the NY Times editorial.

I remember the 1940s and 1950s. The Japanese concentration camps for American-Japanese showed the deepest of prejudice. One was not far from where I lived in the California desert. The Chinese were brought as contract labor. They too faced deep prejudice. Eleanor Roosevelt was among those who publicly called them the yellow races. The Japanese who were imprisoned did not come out saying that they could not rise because of the prejudice and the scars of the camps. They and the Chinese rose. I think the reason was not genetic.

I think that lack of freedom of speech on this issue is one reason for the problem. Dr. King was talking for a melting pot America not a diverse one narrowly defined. I voted for Obama because of what he said about red America and black America in 2004. I hoped that he would say he was a melting pot American, half white and half black, and would reach out to the red voters (the lower and middle income whites). He did not, and I am not surprised that polls say race relations are worse than for a long time.

They are many ways to achieve acceptance. I think they should be debated. The Supreme Court has 6 Catholics, 3 Jews, and 0 Protestants. That is the opposite of diversity, given the enormous hostility of white Catholics, Jews, and Protestants towards each other in the past. Blacks should ask how that hostility dissipated so much that today we don't even notice the lack of diversity on the Court.


Race in the early 20th century was defined by culture. Poles and Italians were called races, and there was a lot of mutual hostility between them Poles were subject to the most humiliating of jokes about their stupidity. Go to the archives at the time Pope John Paul II was elected and read such jokes about him in the Duke Chronicle. Coach K was at Duke at that time. He didn't say that the jokes about Polish stupidity (or stereotypes about Polish drunkenness) prevented him from rising. Instead he showed his incredible intelligence and discipline in the biggest of the big leagues, and he has been an historic force in destroying the prejudices against Poles in this country

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