Sunday, October 9, 2016

Trump, Bieganski, and Anti-Semitism

My book Bieganski: The Brute Polak Stereotype describes the stereotype of Poles and other Eastern Europeans as the world's worst anti-Semites.

The stereotype is not accurate. It exists, and will continue to exist, because it serves several purposes. One purpose: it deflects attention, blame, and discomfort away from antisemitism in other countries.

I am blessed to be an American. We have been blessed with relatively placid lives in America. We, including the poorest Americans, enjoy access to abundant food, mostly safe streets, clean air and water. No one who has ever lived in other countries, as I have, can scoff at these benefits.

We Americans tend to think, even unconsciously, that hatred could never reach a critical mass in our country, as it did in Nazi Germany, or Communist Russia, China, or Cambodia, or more recently in Rwanda.

Many of us have been shocked by the hatreds unleashed by the Trump campaign.

My first taste of that hatred. I knew very little about Trump when he first announced his candidacy. My Facebook posts voiced my "let's see what he has to say" approach. After I realized I could never vote for him, a Facebook friend accused me of being an "immigrant." I was born in New Jersey.

One of the more horrifying aspects of a horrifying campaign is the antisemitism among Trump supporters.

Please note: I have never called Trump an anti-Semite, and I don't recall ever seeing any such accusation in the press. I know that Trump's daughter Ivanka, who plays a high-profile role in his campaign, is married to a Jew. All of that is beside the point.

What is more pertinent is that overt anti-Semites have embraced and supported Trump in a way that is impossible not to notice and also impossible not to address.

A recent Haaretz article is just one of many articles addressing this phenomenon. 

This article, and many others, make abundantly clear that antisemitism is alive and well in the United States. Anti-Semites have power; if they did not, the Trump campaign would be more adamant in its condemnation of and distancing from them.

I'm shocked and horrified by how many organized anti-Semites there are in the US. The internet facilitates them: they can find each other, unite, organize, and make their presence felt.

Anti-Semitism is not acceptable in conventional social settings in the US. But antisemitism is part of the inescapable baggage of a powerful presidential campaign. That is sobering. Decent people will insist on addressing it.

Anti-Semites are using the internet in new and sophisticated ways. Those who oppose antisemitism must also use the internet in new and sophisticated ways.

One thing those who oppose antisemitism must do: stop using the Bieganski stereotype. It is a distortion of history and it is a distortion of antisemitism. One does not have to be Polish, or Ukrainian, Lithuanian, or any other flavor of Eastern European to be an anti-Semite. One does not have to be a peasant or a worker. One does not have to be a Christian or a Catholic. Use of the Bieganski stereotype does not advance, but rather weakens the fight against antisemitism.

The antisemitism and the anti-Semites among Trump supporters make this abundantly clear.

In the excerpts below, the reader discovers two fallacies: one, that antisemitism is of the past (and therefore easier to pin on "primitive" Eastern European peasants), and, two, that antisemitism is something that is exclusively associated with Eastern Europe, in this case, Russia.

Neither assumption is correct. Yes, a wealthy, Western, modern country, the United States, can harbor antisemitism. Yes, a modern invention, the internet, can foster antisemitism.

The author of the article excerpted below recommends that Jewish people acknowledge that antisemitism is a problem. Part of that acknowledgement is to abandon the belief that antisemitism was only of the past, and only of Eastern Europe. Both of those fallacies underpin the Bieganski stereotype. Both are wrong.

Below please find excerpts from the Haaretz article "I Hadn't Been Called a Kike Since Fourth Grade. Donald Trump Changed All That" on antisemitism among Trump supporters. 

"There's a reason why so many anti-Semites are going for Trump. It's not that he's an anti-Semite. He's something worse. He's an influential public figure who enables and tolerates and excuses and pumps Jew-haters, and who, most crucially, cannot afford to lose their votes.

I don't remember the first time I got called a kike as a kid. But I remember the last.

I was a fourth grader. I wound up in a short fight with a bigger kid. All I remember is that he was a guy with trouble at home and trouble inside, and harbored some grievance about our respective places in line for the movies.

The adult advice I got at the time was that anti-Semitism – of the long-ago type that had made changing our family's immigrant last name a key part of my dad's application process for college – was on the ropes. It would soon be extinct, I was assured, like polio. 'Just let it go, or it'll get worse.'

It was bad advice. It was bad advice then, and it's bad advice now…

Two weeks ago, Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum wrote a piece titled 'In Poland, a preview of what Trump could do to America.'

The Breitbart news site – whose on-leave executive chairman is Trump Campaign Chairman Stephen Bannon – then ran an article which said of Applebaum that 'hell hath no fury like a Polish, Jewish, American elitist scorned.'

The attack on Applebaum followed a torrent of online abuse directed at Jewish reporters, or reporters with Jewish-sounding names, or reporters married to Jews, whose words were seen as uncomplimentary to Trump or his wife.

The attacks began in earnest early in the year, following the February South Carolina primary, when reporter Bethany Mandel was attacked as a 'slimy Jewess' and was told she deserved 'the oven' for writing about Trump's relatively large number of anti-Semitic supporters.

'My anti-Trump tweets have been met with such terrifying and profound anti-Semitism that I bought a gun earlier this month. Over the coming weeks, I plan to learn how to shoot it better.'

…In April, prominent feature writer Julia Ioffe published a profile of Melania Trump in GQ. Ioffe, who is Jewish, was barraged with death threats and crank callers, one of whom played recorded speeches of Hitler on her phone line, another who told her that her face would look good on a lampshade.

On Twitter, Ioffe was pictured as if interred in Auschwitz, with the caption 'Julia Ioffe at Camp Trump.'

…Ioffe, for her part, remarked, 'The irony of this is that today, when I was getting all of this horrible anti-Semitic shit that I’ve only ever seen in Russia, I was reminded that 26 years ago today my family came to the U.S. from Russia.'

'We left Russia because we were fleeing anti-Semitism,' Ioffe told the Guardian. 'It’s been a rude shock for everyone.'"

The full text of the Haaretz article can be read here.


  1. Pretty alarming stuff. The anonymity of Internet commentators is also a factor in bringing out some attitudes which many of us thought had disappeared.

    It seems very unlikely that D. Trump can survive the latest revelations about him, but you never know. And even if he is defeated, these attitudes are not suddenly going to disappear.

    1. I agree. It is alarming. And the internet is helping. And noen of this will disappear after Trump loses.

  2. This article is completely one-sided.

    What about all the anti-Semites who have no problem voting for Hillary Clinton--notably the "Israel is evil" crowd? And what of the anti-Christians who have no problem voting for Hillary Clinton?

  3. Prof. Goska, did you read the Breitbart article in question? It was written by Matthew Tyrmand and the part of the article that people are up in arms about amounts to two sentences.

    Here is Mr. Tyrmand's response to the media coverage. The response is in English.

    Chris Helinsky

    1. Chris Helinsky thanks for that link. His letter is impressive.

      On the other hand, the facts remain. he linked Jewish identity with vengefulness, and he writes for a publication where the comments section -- a significant part of their franchise, not a footnote to it -- is notoriously racist.

    2. This is where you and I disagree. I think you are right about Breitbart, but I do not think you are right about the article. I have no interest in arguing so I will leave it at that.

      If you are interested in talking to Mr. Tyrmand, he is on Twitter and Facebook. If you cannot get his attention then try talking to Mr. Johnny Daniels. He is a friend of Mr. Tyrmand and you may be interested in his work regardless.

      Chris Helinsky

  4. Thanks, Chris, for the link. The article provides a solid expose of the anti-PiS antics of Anne Applebaum.

    Now back to the contents of this blogspot. Note that Hillary Clinton has been endorsed by the American Communist Party. Since you have a photo that juxtaposes the Nazi flag with Donald trap, perhaps you will give some equal time to the other side by posting a photo that juxtaposes the red Hammer-and-Sickle flag with Hillary Clinton.

  5. For all of D. Trump's praise of Polish Americans, nevertheless, considering his remarks about reviewing Nato commitments to Eastern Europe if he should win, a pro-Trump Polish American such as Mr Peczkis brings to mind the old saying about "turkeys voting for Christmas". Perhaps in the US it would be "turkeys voting for Thanksgiving".

    1. Cactus: Make America great again.

      Tuco: Did that cactus just say something or am I hearing things?

      Angel Eyes: That cactus is a Trump supporter.

      Blondie: He sure is one prickly customer.

      Tuco: Well, amigos, I don’t know about you, but I’m with the cactus. People who call me a cactusist completely misrepresent ol’ Tuco. Don gets my vote because he’s one tough hombre. I suppose you’re votin’ for Hillary, ain’t ya, Blondie, you wishy-washy, namby-pamby gringo.

      Blondie: How do you know who I’m votin’ for, amigo? As a matter of fact, I ain’t got no votin’ rights in this country.

      Tuco: That don’t stop you stickin’ your oar in, does it? When Trump gets in, we’ll make sure you go straight in the hoosegow.

      Angel Eyes: So you’re a Mexican for Trump, right? What about the wall?

      Tuco: You know, amigos, we’ve been out here in the sun too long and I reckon we’re all goin’ loco. Vamonos muchachos.

    2. I said nothing about Trump's praise for Polish Americans, and I said nothing about personally being pro-Trump. Oops. Mr. Karski is--once again--putting words in my mouth.

      On the basis of the fact that Hillary Clinton is supporting "property restitution" claims against Poland, perhaps it is the Polish supporter of Clinton that is the actual "turkey voting for Thanksgiving". As for illegal immigration, considering the fact that illegal aliens take jobs from Poles (especially from the recently-arrived unskilled laborers), perhaps that is another reason that a pro-Clinton Pole is the one that is "the turkey voting for Thanksgiving".

      Think about it.

    3. M, Trump notoriously exploited Polish workers in NYC. And then refused to pay them a paltry four dollars an hour. Google it, as Marco Rubio might say.

  6. So which is more important for Jan; restitution claims on behalf of some individuals against the Polish government or the security of the entire country, especially as the current ruling party in Poland seems adept at antagonizing allies and partners?

    [As a bit of an aside, maybe Sue Knight's advice about potential Polish neutrality should be given some serious consideration?]

    And what is this about not being a Trump supporter, Jan? If you're not going to vote for Hillary, are you telling me you're going to abstain? Or vote for an unelectable fringe candidate and waste your hard-earned vote? Declare yourself. Don't be shy.

    1. "restitution claims on behalf of some individuals against the Polish government or the security of the entire country, especially as the current ruling party in Poland seems adept at antagonizing allies and partners?"

      There is an obvious difference.

      When it comes to restitution, the people asking for compensation are Jewish.

      When it comes to NATO, the people threatening to violate Poland's borders are Russians.

      who are you more afraid of / whom do you dislike more? Russians or Jews?

  7. My choice of vote, or my choice to not vote at all, is private.

    To use Sue Knight's term, I expect neutrality on this blog, and am not seeing it, least of all in this particular blogspot, and its one-sided innuendo against Trump.

    Your attacks on the PiS government speak volumes about your own position.

    As for "property restitution", you still do not get it. We are talking about billions of dollars of "restitution", to Jewish groups, for German crimes and for the consequences of German crimes. This is blatantly unfair to Poland, and the payments themselves would bankrupt Poland.

    Besides all this, Hillary Clinton is a leftist-globalist, and her policies would tend to undermine Polish sovereignty, and would facilitate the leftist efforts to destroy Poland's religious and patriotic traditions.

    Both of the foregoing partake of the security of the entire country, and not just a few individuals.

  8. There is no innuendo against Trump. Don't you remember this?

    What he said was fairly clear and I haven't heard him retract any of it. The Polish government might be concerned about being left to their own devices. Instead PiS seems to be happy to support a Trump candidacy.

    The property restitution question is not as straightforward as some claimants seem to think. I believe I'm right in saying that the Poles themselves have never been compensated for anything by either of the occupying powers. But if anyone's family lost property in Poland, then who would you turn to in the first instance if not the Polish government? Theoretically, the funds for any payments should be claimed from the heirs of the aggressor states. I don't know whether any Poles who lost property in the East have successfully claimed restitution from either Russia, Belarus or Ukraine. My own family never even attempted any claims. Jewish families, however, whose property is still within the borders of present-day Poland may want to take on board the fact that the Polish Second Republic was not the aggressor in WWII and therefore any claims ought to be directed to Germany. Perhaps an EU fund can be established to meet the costs of any claims, but with the rather anti-EU stance of the current PiS government, any such proposal is unlikely to be met with any sympathy on the part of other EU countries.

    This is a civil issue and can be dealt with in the courts and by international treaties. National security, however, outweighs these considerations. Your anti-globalist, anti-leftist agenda seems to have blinded you to the realities of the present situation.

    1. I'm not even sure if Belarus can be considered as an heir to the USSR. Ukraine would most probably reject any Polish property claims on that basis. It gets complicated.

      But, to repeat, this kind of issue can be dealt with by diplomacy which relies on agreements between nations and governments and not by the kind of strident, frequently xenophobic rhetoric which seems to be coming from some Poles these days.

  9. I cannot believe what I am reading.

    The massive Jewish "property restitution" claims are not being directed at Germany--"theoretically" or not. They are being squarely directed at Poland. That is just the problem! Had they been directed against Germany, as they should have been in the first place, there would be nothing to discuss.

    The notion that the EU would pay for claims against Poland, irrespective of your anti-PiS statements, sounds all the more farfetched.

    The notion that this is a "civil issue" is oblivious to the fact that it is a matter of international political pressure being brought to bear on Poland.

    In short, if we are going to get into ad hominems, as you are now doing, perhaps it is fair to suggest that, if anyone is blinded to the realities of the present situation, it is you.

    1. So your priority is not the security of Polish borders but the question of property restitution. Yes or no?

  10. Also, you're not offering any solutions - only complaining. Will defeating Hillary stop any property claims? Why should it?

  11. Yes or No? Yes! Note that the "insecurity of Poland's borders" is a hypothetical issue. On the other hand, Jewish political aggression against Poland is a very real and ongoing issue. The goal is to convince the world that the Holocaust was so special that Jews are, as a collective, entitled to EX POST FACTO property restitution laws--and that in a way that other property-losing peoples (e. g, Poles) are not. The goal is also to convince the world that Poland was "complicit in the Holocaust", and therefore Poland owes massive monies to the Jews as a whole.

    This whole business of "insecurity of Poland's borders" is a rehash of old Communist propaganda. The Communists used to scare Poland into believing that she must remain under Soviet hegemony--or else faced renewed German aggression and the loss of the Recovered Territories. Now we hear the same line in reverse: Poland must stay under the hegemony of western Europe--or else face the danger of Russian military aggression against Poland.

    As for "not offering any solutions--only complaining", that is quite true of your gratuitous remarks about Poland's democratically-elected PiS government. And please reread my early posts, wherein I do offer a number of solutions.

    Finally, a victorious Trump may pursue the Jewish "property restitution" agenda, but a victorious Hillary Clinton definitely will. She plainly said so.

  12. The idea of Poland being defenceless concerns you less than Jewish restitution claims.

    Thank you for revealing your true bigotry.

  13. Strangely enough, your favoured PiS politicians do not seem to downplay any potential threat from Russia, as you seem to be doing - quite the reverse. Personally, I feel a bit more diplomatic language all round would tend to defuse tensions.

    1. No.

      No one discounts the potential of renewed Russian (or German) aggression. We know, or should know, our long history in that regard.

      It is a matter of priority. Poland is under constant Jewish attack, that that is a reality.

      So now it is name-calling time. You accuse me of bigotry. Fine. I accuse you of gross naivete. Who is right?

    2. I am really sorry to see you falling out over this Jan and Michal... politics are so divisive - but I suppose that is the purpose of them.

      And those of us working at the Polish Media Issues coalface come in for such stick anyway, and such lofty scorn from the Ivory Towers of Academe...

      As far as this election goes, I am sure neither candidate will do much for Poland/Polonia. I can see no political capital in it for them. And as far as restitution goes, yes, I too fear that Poland will end up paying restitution for the crimes of its Nazi occupiers.

      I doubt that much can be done about it - but hopefully people can be strengthened by a sound application of the perfect advice in Psalm 37.

      While we - the children of Adam - argue with each other a rescue is on the way - so close now. Its the rescue we pray for when we say the Lord's prayer and ask for God's Kingdom to come. Isn't that the only government that can solve our problems?

    3. We can wait for the Kingdom of Heaven, but meanwhile we must do our work on Earth.

      You write,"I too fear that Poland will end up paying restitution for the crimes of its Nazi occupiers. I doubt that much can be done about it"

      I do not agree. The "property restitution" racket thrives on public ignorance and on letting our enemies define us. It would end if the Polish government finally showed some resolve, and stood up for Polish interests.

      Besides, it is totally contrary, to the indomitable Polish spirit, for Poles to tamely submit to any form of aggression directed against Poland.

      Poles never come to terms with injustices done to them--even if it takes many generations to rectify.

    4. Hello Jan - I don't mean that we can't speak up and highlight the injustices and double standards. We can and we do! And thanks so much for playing such a valiant part - I see some of the nasty attacks on you on Amazon review sites for example. But you keep going.

      But the politics are against us. And aren't the hands that pull the political strings much more powerful than any human hands? Which is why we so desperately need the Kingdom of God, the heavenly government, which will bring about God's will on the earth.

  14. "Poland is under constant Jewish attack" - Jan Peczkis


    For the rest of my answer, read my book or the posts on this blog. I have addressed this before, and I have limited time.

    1. I guess we will have to agree to disagree.

      Almost every day I see MAUS in the classroom library, ready to inculcate anti-Polonism in another generation of young minds.

      Neo-Stalinists such as Anna Bikont and Jan T. Gross are constantly featured at major universities, supported by Jewish organizations,and made into great scholars and heroes for defaming Poland.

      Wealthy Jews, such as George Soros, finance GAZETA WYBORCZA, and other "Polish" operations, in order to promote the defamation of Poland from within.

      Hardly a week goes by that I do not read or hear of yet another Jewish attack on Poland. Think of articles in HAARETZ, a respected Israeli Jewish publication.

      Etc., Etc...

      If this is not "Poland under constant Jewish attack", I do not know what is.

    2. I have replied to such selective gathering of facts, gathered selectively to indict Jews qua Jews, before. I've done so in my book and on this blog.

      I will not devote time to this selective gathering of facts every time it appears.

      What remains is this is a selective gathering of facts.

      Noticing ONLY Jews who misrepresent Poland. Never noticing the many non Jews who misrepresent Poland. Never noticing that Poles and Polonians themselves devote close to zero energy or resources to accurately representing Poles and Poland.

      NEVER noting Jews who aid Poland.

      I've had enough of this. Please don't post any more material attempting to indict Jews qua Jews as the sole source of Bieganski. I won't allow such posts to go through.

      This blog does not exist to serve an antisemitic and inaccurate selective gathering of facts.

  15. To Mr. Peczkis.

    you obsess over Jews the way an Antisemite would. Change comes when people can work together. Talk like yours will make that impossible.

    Chris Helinsky

  16. An unwillingness to identify and confront the source of much of the problem does not solve the problem.

    Collective responsibility should not be confused with collective guilt. Poles are constantly called upon, collectively, to "come to terms with the past" over what did or did not happen at Jedwabne. I think that the same standards should apply to all peoples, including the accusing side.

    Talk of "when people can work together" can not even begin while the aggressor continues to engage in aggression against Poles and Poland. It is not our job to be meek and silent while Poland is under attack.

  17. Speak for yourself, matey. It is not our job to do anything you tell us. Get off your soapbox and drink your milk.

    1. This will be my final exchange with Mr P. I wish I could say it has been a pleasure debating with him, but unfortunately it hasn't. My regards to everyone else.

    2. Thanks, Michal Karski, for your totally hysterical response. It speaks volumes about you.

  18. Michal and Jan is there any way I can convince you two to make peace?

  19. Danusha

    Peczkis accuses me of being naïve. Let me state to begin with: I am not myself Jewish. My Catholic parents happened to be representative of those many Poles from before the war for whom ethnic differences were not an issue. My father was from the ethnic melting pot of Lwow.

    This is not to say that I see all Jewish people as saints. There were good Jews and bad Jews just as there are good Poles and bad Poles. I am not blinded to injustices. Here’s just some evidence. Note my comments on the following pages:

    Peczkis, on the other hand, is obsessed, as was suggested above, by Jews and specifically any anti-Polish Jews. He never seems to notice any positive side to Polish-Jewish relations. This is not a rational person even though he has the gall to accuse me of being hysterical.

    His arguments need to be challenged and cannot be allowed to stand. Unfortunately he seems incapable of seeing beyond his narrow agenda, which is the denigration of any so-called “leftist” views (i.e. anything to the left or centre of his own extremism). He is clearly encouraged by the current xenophobic political atmosphere and the seeming resurgence of a nationalist government in Poland. (Actually, Peczkis makes Kaczynski and co look like moderates)

    It will be futile for me to debate any further with him and the best I can do is to call a truce. Thank you for your efforts at mediation but if Jan calls himself a Polish patriot, this is not a patriotism I recognize or wish to be associated with, but rather an intolerant xenophobia which is not the kind of Polish identity my parents and thousands of others like them fought for.

    Good luck with the blog

  20. Michal, I agree. So keep posting here and give antisemitism in the comments section a run for its money.

    I allow anyone to post here. I don't vet comments for ideology.

    I have tried to keep things civil. I don't post messages that are nothing but insults.

    I hope you will continue to read and post.

    Like it or not, Jan Peczkis represents one point of view that is found in some sections of Polonia.

    It is to our benefit, to ourselves as individuals and to Polonia as a group, to develop effective and civil ways to point out the folly of antisemitism.

    So, I hope you continue to read and post, and perhaps someday you will bring Jan around to your point of view.

  21. Thank you for your comments. I doubt if Mr. Jan Peczkis will undergo any Damascene conversions - in fact, I dare say he would expect someone like me to come around to his point of view instead, which isn't going to happen, so there you go.

    As for posting anything, things are a bit hectic here anyway, so it may not be for a while. Cheers.

    1. Michal, again, I hope you continue to read and post. The comments section here does not belong to any one person.

      You don't have to debate everything anyone says. You can just say, "I disagree." And you can point to your previous posts. Because the same things get said over and over.

    2. Yes Michal and Jan, I hope both you and Jan will continue to post - you are both interesting and valiant in tackling such politically difficult issues. And obviously, as Danusha does, I hope you can both come to get along.

      And thank you Jan for your kind words below. They are much appreciated.

  22. There is no need for the condescending tone of the most recent posts.

    If you want a model of how discourse should be conducted on this blog, please read my recent (October 13 and 14) discussion with Sue Knight. Notice the complete absence of rancor and patronizing talk.


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.
These themes include the false and damaging stereotype of Poles as brutes who are uniquely hateful and responsible for atrocity, and this stereotype's use in distorting WW II history and all accounts of atrocity.
This blog welcomes comments from readers that address those themes. Off-topic and anti-Semitic posts are likely to be deleted.
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You keep repeating the same things over and over and over again.