Friday, August 29, 2014

Article by me in Israel Hayom

Below is a link to an article by me, translated into Hebrew and appearing in the Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom. 

A couple of other pieces by me have appeared in translation. A short essay I wrote on the Shroud of Turin was quickly translated into Italian, and my essay "Political Paralysis" has also appeared in other languages, including German. 

This essay first appeared in the American publication, "American Thinker." A short while after it appeared I was contacted by the Israeli newspaper. I grated permission for translation and it appeared a short while after that.

I hope someday that "Bieganski" is translated into Polish. I've been told that it would cost between four and eight thousand dollars for that to happen, to pay the translator. I hope that those funds are found. I think "Bieganski" would be a helpful and important book for Poles living in Poland, as well as Polish Americans living in the US, England, and Australia. 

Here is the link to my article in Israel Hayom.

Friday, August 22, 2014

"How Did Poland Transform from Hero to Villain?" Bieganski Review by Michal Karski

Equality for All? Well, Maybe Some Still Don’t Deserve It.

by Michal Karski

‘History is written by the victors’, goes the old adage (or, as it was put less solemnly by Winston Churchill; ‘history will be kind to me because I intend to write it’). There is no doubt that the losers are usually at a disadvantage. However, the recent German television series ‘Generation War’ seems to have turned that apparent truism on its head to the extent that the real villains of WWII seem to be not so much the Germans themselves, but rather thuggish and uncivilized Eastern European Nazi sympathisers.

The central European country of Poland has received particular attention in this respect for some time. After 1945 it suited the Communist regime to portray the takeover of the once-sovereign state as a ‘liberation from fascism’. Stalinist propaganda dismissed the Polish anti-Nazi  resistance as ‘fascists and reactionaries’ and this has found its way into Western perceptions.

But how did Poland, the country which was, after all, the first to offer military resistance to Hitler and fought against the Nazis on all fronts for the entire duration of the war, manage to become transformed from hero to villain?

Dr Danusha Goska provides the answer to this conundrum in this scholarly but immensely readable study of a prejudice which seems to surface with alarming regularity in the worlds of academe and media and which few influential agencies seem willing or able to tackle. She points to a pattern in American culture which has been able to denigrate immigrant Slavs in general and Poles in particular which would never have been acceptable with other ethnic groups. She gives the reason why this continues and provides numerous examples of negative stereotyping. The book discusses unflattering portrayals of Poles and other Eastern Europeans in films and also so-called ‘jokes’ based on ethnicity delivered by people who imagine they are being witty when they are otherwise being essentially racist. (May I say, on a purely personal note, since I did not grow up in America - even though I did have the good fortune to go to a superb American Forces school in Germany for quite a few years – that I have never been exposed to any anti-Polish prejudice. This does not mean, of course, that I am denying the existence of such prejudice and  the examples cited of Poles and other Eastern Europeans being regarded as inferior beings demonstrate that there is still some work to do in the USA in terms of combating ethnic prejudice. Some individuals clearly need to live up to the ideals of  the Nation’s Founders in what is otherwise considered by many people as not only the world’s foremost democracy but also one of the world’s most advanced societies).

Returning to the question of Poland being subjugated by the Communist puppet regime imposed by Stalin and the resulting image of the Poles as fascists which has found its way west. There is no doubt there was an extreme right which was active in pre-war Poland and there is also no doubt that the war would not have been won without the enormous sacrifice of ordinary men and women from all over the USSR (which included Polish contingents incorporated into the Red Army) – and it is only right and proper that their sacrifice is honoured. Unfortunately the flip side to the actions of the USSR which is rarely mentioned in the west other than in history texts, is the two-year Nazi-Soviet co-operation which resulted in the dismemberment of the Polish state. As I wrote previously on these pages, the pre-war multi-ethnic, multi-cultural nation, with all its faults and divisions, is extinct and lives only in the memories of a generation who are themselves fading away.

Given the prevalence of the Slavic stereotype, the question arises whether Danusha Goska’s study will do anything to mitigate the entrenched attitudes of some  Americans. The overall impression given in the book about attitudes to Poles looks fairly bleak at the moment, therefore all credit to Dr Goska for analysing  a controversial and difficult subject. The epithet which seems to come up most frequently in descriptions of this book is ‘necessary’. In this respect, Polonian organizations might consider offering Dr Goska the kind of support which a serious scholar of her calibre clearly deserves.

This is not to say that I agree 100% with everything that Dr Goska says. Personally I think the section of the book which demonstrates the way in which Hollywood has tended to portray Polish characters negatively could do with some balance. A few positive depictions ought to be mentioned, in fairness. Gene Hackman’s General Sosabowski, in ‘A Bridge Too Far’, for instance, is shown to have been one of the very few Allied commanders expressing serious reservations about the wisdom of Monty’s Arnhem plan; there are honourable and sympathetic Polish characters in Polanski’s ‘The Pianist’; Charles Bronson’s Danny Velinski, the ‘Tunnel King’ of ‘The Great Escape’ is quite positively drawn (albeit with potentially damaging claustrophobia); the whole tenor of Jack Benny’s ‘To Be or Not To Be’ (and its Mel Brooks eighties remake) is very much pro-Polish, so that the positives, although perhaps not outweighing the negatives, do appear from time to time.

The average American needs to be reminded that the vast majority of people of different religions and nationalities in pre-war Poland co-existed peacefully, flourished because of the cultural interchange, and are now in no position to defend their good name because they were either murdered by the Nazis for no other reason than their own ethnicity or, in very many cases, for trying to protect their Jewish friends and neighbours.

My single reservation about Dr Goska’s book concerns the cover painting and echoes what Sue Knight also referred to recently on this blog. People do, unfortunately, judge a book by its cover and the picture of Millet’s peasant with the hoe is rather off-putting (in my humble opinion), therefore may I suggest that perhaps a second edition would substitute the famous ‘Bociany’ by ChelmoĊ„ski, with its overtones of innocent simplicity rather than just brutishness, which would be an implied and pointed contrast to the book’s title? But otherwise, full marks for an excellent, extremely scholarly, objective and fair-minded work which would be a valuable addition to every American school syllabus in the on-going debate about ethnic stereotyping.  It would certainly serve as a stimulus to critical thinking and would also be a powerful counterbalance to entirely non-academic creations expressing purely personal viewpoints such as Art Spiegelman’s ‘Maus’ (which, for all its undoubted visual brilliance, is a rather controversial  example of an academic teaching aid, since, in my opinion, it reinforces, rather than challenges, ethnic stereotypes). Well done, Danusha.

You can read previous blog posts by Michal Karski here and here.

"Bieganski" is available on Amazon here

Monday, August 18, 2014

Poles are Complicit in the Holocaust - New Jersey. And Polonia is Doing What, Exactly?

Nasz Dziennik published an article alleging that in New Jersey students learn that Poles are complicit in the Holocaust. Of course Poles and Polonians are getting all upset. 

There is one scholarly book that addresses this stereotype of Poles as the world's worst anti-Semites. That book is "Bieganski." 

Polonia has not significantly supported the book. It is not used in courses, as far as I know. It has received few Amazon reviews and I regularly receive emails from Polonians telling me they don't want to buy it because they don't like the spend that much money on books, so why can't I give them a copy for free? 

I received one only invite from a Polish organization to talk about the book. I received more invitations from Jewish groups. 

I've repeatedly contacted Polish organizations and offered to speak. I've contacted the Kosciuszko Foundation. I get no replies. 

In short, there is a scholarly book that helps to explain and deconstruct the very stereotype that so troubles Poles and Polonians, and Poles and Polonians don't support that book, and get caught with their pants down and their hair on fire every time one of these scandals erupts. 

Frank Milewski responded to New Jersey educators. Does he mention the one scholarly book on the topic, a book that might help New Jersey educators to understand Polonia's position as something other than chauvinism? No, Mr. Milewski does not. 

A Polish publisher wants to publish "Bieganski" in Poland. He can't because he can't put together the few thousand dollars he would need for translation. 

Polonia, yes, people do associate you with Holocaust guilt. There's a book that addresses that. Read it. It might help. 

You can read about the latest of many similar kerfluffles here in Polish and here in English.

You will see Polonians going around and around, saying the same things they've said a million times, and making zero progress. God forbid they should study something, come to understand it better, and better equip themselves to fight it. 

And you can read more about how Polonia consistently shoots itself in the foot on these issues here.


Dear Polish American Congress,

I understand that the state of New Jersey is teaching that Poles are complicit in the Holocaust and that you are upset by that.

It may interest you to know that there is a prize-winning, scholarly book that addresses that very stereotype.

I am the book's author. I live in New Jersey. I am a teacher.

Why don't you make better use of the resources available to you, including my book and Polish American authors like me, John Guzlowski, Terese Pencak Schwartz and others who would be more than happy to have the opportunity to educate the public and refute stereotypes, if we received any support at all from Polonia?

Why don't you at the very least read "Bieganski" so that you can respond in an informed, sophisticated way to stereotyping?

Thank you. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Generation War from Netflix

The New York Times says that Generation War, which is now available from Netflix, airbrushes the Nazi era. You can read the article here.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

August 14, 1941

Review of "A Man for Others" by Patricia Treece

I was half way into this book when I felt the urge to send copies to everyone I know.

"There is no poetry after Auschwitz," people say. Others insist that there can be no God after Auschwitz, and no man either, at least not man as we had wished humanity to be. We live in an ugly world of mindless cruelty blasted into our minds by 24-7 news broadcasters. One atrocity after the other invites us to be cynical, to be selfish, and to think that our only satisfaction can be found in the next good meal or drug fix or other self-indulgent, transient pleasure.

Maximilian Kolbe, Polish Catholic priest and Auschwitz prisoner, was one of the most remarkable people who ever lived. His kindness, trust in God, and active compassion shatter our most cynical, selfish stances.

"A Man for Others" is an amazingly easy and engaging read. For the most part, the book consists of transcripts of oral recollections of Kolbe's life from his most intimate friends, family members, and fellow Auschwitz prisoners. The most profound truths are expressed in simple language. A middle school student could read this book, and then reread it later in life, and gain new understanding of its incredible story.

Maximilian Kolbe was born to a family so poor that they could not afford to send him to school, and under a foreign occupation so oppressive the colonizing powers refused Polish children the ability to study in the Polish language. He developed active tuberculosis and coughed up blood regularly. At times, his body was so weak, he felt himself close to death. In spite of hardships that have stunted many a life, Kolbe founded a religious order that prospered in Poland and in Japan.

While founding these orders, Kolbe, the man in charge, observed absolute poverty. He gave freely of whatever money he accumulated. He slept on bare floors under leaking ceilings. The Polish and Japanese peasants among whom he lived were poor, and he allowed no privileges for himself, in spite of his impossible work load and tubercular lungs. The people who knew him during these years, long before his fame spread throughout the world, observed that he was a saint in the making.

When Nazis invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, they targeted Kolbe, and all other priests, monks, and nuns. Kolbe was arrested on September 19. He and other priests were packed into train cars. When they asked for water, they were called "Polish swine" and told they were "destined for extermination." Prisoners were fed starvation rations and had to sleep on the ground in winter. In December, Kolbe was released. His followers encouraged him to flee Poland. They knew that with his high profile, his freedom was temporary. Given that he had had a taste of what it meant to be a prisoner of the Nazis, it is all the more remarkable that Kolbe decided to do what he did next: defy the Nazis further.

Kolbe made his headquarters, Niepokalanow, a shelter for refugees fleeing Nazi persecution, including an estimated two thousand Jews. Among Kolbe's last published words, and among the most inspirational words ever written, were the following, "No one can alter the truth. What we can do and should do is to search for truth and then serve it when we have found it." These were incendiary words in a Poland occupied by Nazis. Kolbe was arrested again, and sent to Auschwitz.

There is no need to repeat here what Kolbe endured in Auschwitz. The horrors of that manmade hell are all too familiar. What is unforgettable is Kolbe's behavior. This fragile, tubercular priest, by all accounts, went out of his way to be kind to all. Receiving only starvation rations, he gave his food away to others. He counseled fellow prisoners. He showed no hostility to Nazi guards. For all this, he was singled out for beatings and cruel tortures. A man of peace, deprived of all power, he still had the power of truth. Nazis were so intimidated by him they ordered him not to look at them. They could not endure the power of his eyes (228). After the war, Sigmund Gorson, a Jewish Holocaust survivor, testified of Kolbe, "Now it is easy to be nice, to be charitable, to be humble, when times are good and peace prevails. For someone to be as Father Kolbe was in [Auschwitz] … is beyond words."

Kolbe offered to take the place of a man condemned to death. He was stripped and held in a dark, bare-floored, foul-smelling, featureless concrete cell, with ten other men, with no food or water, until they starved to death. In the cell, Kolbe spent his final days praying, singing, and encouraging his fellow prisoners. It took weeks for him to die. Finally, the Nazis injected him with carbolic acid.

The bare facts of Kolbe's story inspire awe. The bare facts are not enough. You need to read this book, to get an intimate sense of Kolbe the human being. "A Man for Others" was one of those rare, special books that gave me the sense that I was acquiring a new friend. Kolbe comes alive in these pages. He is a man we need today.

Sadly, this must be mentioned. After Kolbe was canonized, professional atheist Christopher Hitchens, celebrity attorney Alan Dershowitz, superstar scholar Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, and Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen launched a tragically misguided smear campaign against Kolbe. Prof. Daniel Schlafly and Warren Green, director of the St. Louis Center for Holocaust Studies, debunked the smears, and the concerned reader is advised to study their full report.

“No one in the world can change Truth. What we can do and and should do is to seek truth and to serve it when we have found it. The real conflict is the inner conflict. Beyond armies of occupation and the hetacombs of extermination camps, there are two irreconcilable enemies in the depth of every soul: good and evil, sin and love. And what use are the victories on the battlefield if we are ourselves are defeated in our innermost personal selves?”
― St. Maximilian Kolbe

"A Man for Others" at Amazon here

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Antisemitism in England; Poland is Always Worse

Source: ADL
Hilary Freeman Source: Daily Mail 
Antisemitism is again rearing its ugly head in a big way on the world stage. Jews are being bullied, threatened, firebombed, insulted and beaten in Belgium, France, and England.

In England it is again fashionable to express antisemitism. One does not need to retreat to a basement room; one can voice opinions on the favorability of the death of Jews and the praiseworthiness of those vowing to kill every last Jew on the planet among polite, educated people and be rewarded for doing so.

The translation key that renders Goebbels into warm and fuzzy multiculturalism is to express compassion for suffering in Gaza. You care so much about the suffering in Gaza – while, mysteriously, the suffering in Syria and Iraq escape your notice – that you must say difficult things about Jews.

And then of course you say you are not anti-Semitic and you voice disapproval of antisemitism, although by that point the word "antisemitism" has been torn to shreds and is void of all meaning.

I've been wondering about this, wondering how it all makes sense in the mind of the polite British antisemite. I think this is how it works. I think they – wrongly – associate antisemitism with Catholicism and conservatism, and since they hate Catholicism and conservatism as much as or more than they hate Jews, they think they couldn't possibly be anti-Semitic.

Even as they publicly urge on an entity, Hamas, explicitly committed to the murder of every last Jew on planet earth, except of course for the lucky Jews who manage to hide behind that notorious "Jewish tree" the gharqad, or boxthorn, tree.

In the August 8, 2014, Mail Online, Hilary Freeman reports on the terrifying antisemitism rampant in England right now. Her daughter was chased down a street by thugs shouting seig heil and making hissing, that is gas, sounds.

I'm glad that Ms. Freeman alerts us to this ugliness, but she discredits herself a bit by attempting to distance herself from her fellow Jews in Israel. "I'm not like Israelis," she insists. "I'm English!" Ms. Freeman, the antisemites don't care.

While valuing Ms. Freeman's courage and accuracy in reporting, one can regret that she falls into a classic Bieganski trap, that is denigrating Poland and elevating England.

Neither stance makes any sense; both are stereotypical.

Poland is not the anti-Semitic hellhole its detractors say it is. England has not been the bastion of liberty and dignity anglophiles wish it were, at least not for Jews.

To discover why, please read Bieganski.

You can read Hilary Freeman's article here.

And let's all pray for a cessation of antisemitism anywhere, including in jolly old England, land of the world's snootiest and most politically correct antisemites. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Letter from a Reader

The Artist and His Mother. Arshile Gorky. Source: Wikipedia 
Dear Terese and Danusha,

Today I came upon the website while I was searching for information on some history I was going to write for my family. I want to take a moment to thank you very much for your website and for both of your efforts in educating people about the "Others". When sharing family history with people I do know I too have heard, "I didn't know you were Jewish." The next time I hear this I will respectfully refer them to your site.

My grandfather is a survivor of both The Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust. My Grandfather, Grandmother, Father, and his Aunt together survived The Holocaust and immigrated to United States. After their DP camp in Linz Austria was liberated, my grandfather collected a couple hundred Armenians. He helped them to leave and go to Argentina, Chile, and the United States. At that time the United States did not consider Armenians appropriate to come to the country. My grandfather's persistence with the assistance of many helpful people, including but not limited to, American soldiers, Armenian American citizens and Aid Workers got the United States to accept Armenians as refugees. This is why I have the privilege of being an American citizen.

My grandfather escaped the Armenian genocide as a young boy with his parents and ended up in Greece. They were never citizens of Greece, but had a decent life there until World War II. My grandfather, grandmother, her sister and my father all left Greece on a train to Germany and ended up in a camp which had a gas chamber. They then experienced the inside of the gas chamber.

When my grandfather spoke of it he noted that men, women and children were pressed together for hours; naked, hot, embarrassed and afraid. My grandfather had heard rumors of the gas, when they took their clothes off this time for a shower he knew it was different. The clothes were thrown into a pile as opposed to being folded and the men women and children were together. My grandfather commented on how bad he felt for the women being exposed like that. My grandfather would say to us that when the water finally came..."Those lousy bastards, the water was cold". When I tell people this, they look at me strangely and after a minute they usually get it. Then there are those that will never get it. Those who say geez the gas didn't come, why did your grandfather just talk about how the water was cold. They don't really understand survival and how without humor is difficult to move on.

My grandfather, Kevork Berberian, survived two genocides. The 1st, The Armenian massacre as a boy, He and his family were targeted because he was Armenian and Christian. Family members were slaughtered, they lost everything they owned along with their homeland, became refugees, and barely escaped with their lives. The 2nd, The Holocaust he was a young man with his own family. He was not targeted because he was Jewish since he wasn't, family members were lost ,they fled their home and left their belongings behind, became refugees and barely escaped with their lives. I know when my grandfather reflected on both experiences and their effect on his and his family's lives, it did not matter whether he was targeted because he was an Armenian or was one of "The Others". Both experiences were unfathomable.

We all have our own perspectives and experience, though I doubt many have survived two holocausts as my grandfather did. Those without experience can never truly understand, but they can learn and empathize and take measures so there is not a repeat. As you both well know and have cited; Hitler said "Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?"

To this day the Turks have not taken responsibility for their actions and around the world genocide still occurs. When the truth is skewed for whatever purpose, well-meaning or not, bad things continue to happen.

I still remember coming home from school one day and telling my dad he was wrong about 11- 12,000,000 people dying in the Holocaust as I just learned in school it was 6 million Jewish people had died. Imagine his surprise.

Lisa Berberian-Fernandez

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Blood Libel and Hamas

Blood libel is back in the headlines. Pro-Hamas Muslims on Facebook have been spreading blood libel. I found this image of Benjamin Netanyahu on the Facebook page of Mohammed Zeyara linked here. Hamas Spokesman Osama Hamdan advances blood libel. Video, below.

Blood libel is a folk belief that one group consumes the blood, or, in related belief, exploits the body parts, of another group. Blood libel has been used as an excuse to murder Jews. Jewish Holocaust survivors in Kielce, Poland were stoned to death, link here. Blood libel may have played a role in the lynching of Leo Frank in the US, linked here.

Below are the paragraphs from my book "Bieganski, the Brute Polak Stereotype," that directly address blood libel.

Application of Bonacich and Chua to Poland illuminates one of the ugliest expressions of anti-Semitism: the blood libel, which Jan Tomasz Gross labels a "medieval prejudice" and, in a quote from another author, a "medieval myth" (152, 260) to which the Jewish Times adds, of "vile Christian fantasies about Jews" (Rifkin). Gross' work is excellent and needed, but in his discussion of the blood libel, Gross reveals no knowledge of folklore scholarship. Gross proceeds, rather, from tunnel vision and from the concept of human progress – Poles are anti-Semitic because they are of the past; Poles are uniquely anti-Semitic because they, uniquely, believe in and act on the blood libel in the modern era, an era that has put away such things. The solution is for Poles to abandon their essential anti-Semitism, along with their nationalism and Catholicism, and to evolve – that is, to join the modern, secular, West.

There are many things wrong with this picture. Poland was not a significant site of blood libel in the Middle Ages; the West – England and Germany – was. Blood libel increased in Poland during the Enlightenment, the era during which trends such as democracy, secularization and science increased, to reach their peak in modernization. The Catholic Church did disseminate the blood libel, in sermons, books, and art, for example in the notorious mural in Sandomierz Cathedral, but the motif is not Christian. Muslims currently spread blood libel. Popes repeatedly condemned blood libel (Innocent IV, Gregory X, Martin V, Paul III, Clement XIV). In the eighteenth century, Poland's Jews appealed to the Vatican for protection and Vatican officials interceded on behalf of Jews against Poles. This family of beliefs did not last inspire murder in Kielce. Innocents were murdered as recently as 2000, and probably have been since. Something other than an essential Polish, Catholic, medieval essence is at work here, and it must be understood.

Blood libel is part of a family of related folklore items, involving charges of human sacrifice and cannibalism, that members of one group use to discredit, and express anxieties about, another group. This folklore family predates the birth of Christ. Pagans in the Classical World leveled blood libel charges against Jews, and then, Christians. Pagans reported that Christians drank baby blood as part of Christian ritual. In 1750, the French king was accused of bathing in children's blood. Chinese accused French missionary nuns of extracting liquid from Chinese orphan's eyes in order to make photographs. The Talmud cautions against a non-Jewish midwife attending the birth of a Jewish child, as she may shed the child's blood; it cautions against a non-Jew serving as wet nurse as she might rub poison on her breasts to murder the Jewish baby. The emphasis on bodily fluids – blood, breast milk, tears – reflects the folk belief that the essence of life is a liquid (Dundes "Wet").

Charges of blood libel, cannibalism, and the exploitation of human body parts are expressions of the teller's sense of being exploited, and of one group's alienation from another. In reference to blood libels in Africa, classicist James Rives wrote:

When Arens began doing fieldwork in Tanzania, he found himself the object of some suspicion among the natives because of a story, remarkably detailed and widely believed, that Europeans consume the blood of Africans … [this story] could be taken as an essentially correct, if simplified and dramatic, assessment of the modern political situation. (Rives 66)

In his discussion of Pagan charges of blood libel leveled against early Christians, Rives wrote:

There was a certain amount of justification for these attitudes. The Christians had after all ostentatiously set themselves apart from their fellows both socially and in religious usages. To all appearances, they had barbarized themselves, renouncing their membership in Graeco-Roman society. In fact, while the stories about child sacrifice were no doubt false, their underlying message was true: Christians were indeed people who had in many respects distanced themselves from their general cultural context. (Rives 74)

Veronique Campion-Vincent, writing of beliefs that Americans exploit Third World children's body parts, wrote:

Even though it may not be true that the American USIA/CIA is involved in supporting an organ-theft ring, it cannot be denied that these American agencies have played a powerful manipulative role to the detriment of poor Third World countries…the narrative lore that finds resonance in a population does not have to be factual to be true. Even though the accounts are not factual, they nevertheless demonstrate symbolic truth. (Campion-Vincent 32)

The above excerpts are not adduced as correct or ethical interpretations of exploitation lore, but as examples of how this ugly lore is understood by many professional ethnographers. In fact, not just peoples an ethnographer might understand as oppressed can assess themselves as such, and express that assessment through exploitation lore. American organ theft legends often depict white American males, a relatively privileged group, as having been victimized by dark-skinned, ethnic-minority females, relatively disempowered group members (Goska "Kidney"). Obvious facts must be stated: Poles' victims in Kielce were innocent and defenseless Holocaust survivors. A better understanding of how ugly folklore arises, and the circumstances under which it becomes deadly, does nothing to mitigate the guilt of perpetrators.

In recent years, Guatemalan villagers have circulated oral accounts of "Gringos" stealing Guatemalan children in order to exploit their organs. In 1994, environmental journalist June Weinstock was accused of having kidneys in her backpack. Villagers beat, stoned, and ultimately left her for dead. She never fully recovered (Torchia). A Japanese tourist and a bus driver were stoned to death in 2000. "At least 71 people … were killed by mobs in peasant villages in 1999" (BBC). To explain these horrors, journalists did not resort to a posited pathological Guatemalan essence, religious or cultural. Journalists pointed out that Guatemala had been the site of lengthy warfare and that the killers – Maya Indians – were a disempowered population (e.g. Bounds, Miranda). Applying that logic to Poland, one sees that blood libels became most frequent in the period after the "Deluge," when Poland was attacked by Swedes, Turks, and Cossacks. The cathedral in Sandomierz features not just images of Jews, but of Swedes and Muslims killing Poles.

Not only disempowered, ethnic minority villagers invest in this vile family of folklore. Highly educated persons in the West do, as well. High-level Government officials, including Communists (not Christian), arts' boards, adoption agencies, and humanitarian organizations, including those under UN auspices, have given full credence to demonstrably false legends of children being kidnapped and robbed of their bodily organs. Films claiming to document these legends have won prizes. In sharp contrast to Gross' characterization of blood libel as "medieval," Campion-Vincent cites characterizations of organ theft legends as "sadly emblematic and exemplary of the horrors of modernity" (19). Both commit the error of tunnel vision – this folklore is neither medieval nor modern; it is timeless. It expresses a timeless aspect of human character.