|Dr Lukasz Niec and his wife. Source: Facebook|
On January 23, 2018, a post appeared on a Polish-themed Facebook page. Dr. Lukasz Niec of Kalamazoo, Michigan, was under arrest by ICE, pending deportation to Poland. Niec, when he was a toddler, had been brought to the US in 1979 by his parents. He had a green card. He became a physician. His sister, wife, and professional coworkers testified to what a fine man, husband, and father Niec is.
Apparently, he was going to be deported for minor brushes with the law, like speeding tickets. The record suggests that Niec is a bad driver. He is an American bad driver. He, simply, is American. He is not Polish. He doesn't speak Polish. His parents are dead. He has no family in Poland. He last lived in Poland when he was five years old. Further, the US has a doctor shortage. America benefits from this man's professional skill and service.
I hoped that Facebook comments on this link would address the above points.
Instead what I read was sickening.
Polonian after Polonian attacked Dr. Lukasz Niec, someone they'd previously never heard of and knew virtually nothing about.
"Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. He knew the risks involved in not resolving his citizenship status that he chose to ignore for all of these years. Sorry, it's sad and maybe a little unfair, but the bottom line is: HE GOT CAUGHT, enough said!"
"Here since age 3 and no one ever thought of becoming an American? Something smelly here. All I can say is OBEY OUR LAWS to the T or leave."
Many posters knew nothing about Dr. Niec, didn't want to learn anything about Dr. Niec, and took the opportunity of a post about Dr. Niec to
· Laugh at his predicament
· Besmirch his character as "something smelly" – with zero evidence to support their insinuations
· Refuse to learn more
· Attack immigrants as criminals out to destroy America
I posted about Dr. Niec's plight on this blog. Two posters submitted off-topic comments complaining about Jews.
They didn't want to talk about a Polish American facing an unjust and life-destroying deportation.
All they wanted to do was complain about Jews.
I wish I could say that this event is unique. It's not unique. I've been writing about Polish and Polonian matters for over a quarter century. In all that time, I've heard Polish Americans and other Polonians complain a lot. I've not seen Polonians unite and organize to accomplish any goal.
Polish American authors make slim to no appearances on school syllabi. Polish and Polonian history and culture make slim to no appearances in museums and popular culture.
What are Polonians doing? Fighting with each other, and complaining about Jews. Oh, and posting photos of themselves eating pierogies.
I cannot help but compare this with the strategic organization, mutual support, and camaraderie I often witness in other groups, from Hispanics to African Americans to Jews to environmentalists to feminists. Yes, all groups have in-fighting. But they also manage to unite and cooperate to accomplish goals.
I recently joined an ad hoc group formed to achieve a given environmental goal – saving a local park from development. A group of complete strangers met up via the internet. In no time we were friends, supporting each other, caring about each other, spending time together, visiting each others' houses.
We were nice, and friendly, and supportive. We didn't make snide remarks or start fights. And we achieved our goal. We saved the park. I've never seen Polonians manage to do the same thing, to achieve even the tiniest of goals. It's always snide remarks, petty squabbles, and ultimate surrender with nothing accomplished.
I am reminded of a statement from "Mary," one of the informants for my book, Bieganski: The Brute Polak Stereotype.
"All of them came steerage...The only common theme [about life in Poland] was poverty, hunger, and no opportunity. My grandfather would get drunk and abuse people. There were black eyes. In the season when they castrate the animals my father was told he was going to be castrated. He had to run away and negotiate his return. He said if they ever said that again he'd figure out a way to kill them all. My father would be willing to hit a cow with a board until the board broke, or the cow died.
"It was not a culture of empowerment. Quite the reverse. The message was of disenfranchisement, of scraping on the edge of society. They used a divide-and-conquer method of power. My father's father was threatened by any aggregation of power or collaboration among his own children. Children were paired off against each other. Power was gained through intimidation. They used almost any means to an end. It was a culture of [lengthy pause] street rats. It was a very low class level of behavior that continues to this day. They would steal each other's property. Like tractors. The sheriff got tired of it. It was usually the result of a grudge. 'I borrowed your hayfork two years ago; I returned it. You asked to borrow my wheelbarrow; you didn't return it, so I got your tractor.' This was all said in an ugly tone.
"They had to nibble on the sides of society. There's not much ethics. You survive however you can. Raising a few cows, a few fruit trees, moonshining, making sausages, making other different kinds of food, logging, trapping, cutting wood, selling it, dealing in iron and metals, knowing metals, knowing which metals are in batteries, knowing what's valuable, hauling gravel, knowing how to build a building, knowing how to make bricks. It if took soldering, shoeing a horse – a tremendously opportunistic culture.
"'There ain't anything we can't do. If we can't do it, we'll steal it from somebody. If we can't steal it, we'll watch it, and learn how.' Can-do people. It's intimidating. I should know how to change a tire, the oil, rewire a house, fix windows. 'Why should you have to bring somebody in? You can trust no one. Everybody will rip you off. The world is full of predators and they will take advantage of you.'"