|Hilary Freeman Source: Daily Mail|
|Hilary Freeman Source: Daily Mail|
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.
Your comment is more likely to be posted if:
Your comment includes a real first and last name.
Your comment uses Standard English spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
Your comment uses I-statements rather than You-statements.
Your comment states a position based on facts, rather than on ad hominem material.
Your comment includes readily verifiable factual material, rather than speculation that veers wildly away from established facts.
T'he full meaning of your comment is clear to the comment moderator the first time he or she glances over it.
You comment is less likely to be posted if:
You do not include a first and last name.
Your comment is not in Standard English, with enough errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar to make the comment's meaning difficult to discern.
Your comment includes ad hominem statements, or You-statements.
You have previously posted, or attempted to post, in an inappropriate manner.
You keep repeating the same things over and over and over again.
There is no doubt that recent events have brought some extreme attitudes into the spotlight and have polarized opinions of some influential people in the UK as elsewhere, but the average Brit remains, on the whole, as tolerant of different ethnicities as ever before. (Consider, for instance, the large-scale acceptance of waves of immigrants, from the Huguenots in the 17th century, to the French fleeing the Revolution, to the exiled Poles at the end of WWII, followed by the refugees fleeing political turmoil in the Balkans or the Middle East).ReplyDelete
This is not to say that the record of the UK is unblemished. There did seem to be an unwillingness in certain spheres of the pre-war Establishment to be overly enthusiastic about supporting European Jews in the face of the growing threat from European fascism and the question remains as to why the British government marginalized or even totally ignored reports of the plight of European Jewry during the war (as in the example of Jan Karski's famous mission, in which his report of the mass annihilation of an entire people was given little credence by the leadership of both the UK and the US).
But the phrase in the above rticle that it is currently "fashionable to express anti-Semitism" is not borne out by what I've experienced personally or by what I've seen in the British press. Please read Charles Moore, for instance, at the (Conservative) Telegraph - no anti-Jewish bias there. (The Telegraph, incidentally, has also featured a very pro-Polish piece on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising by London Mayor Boris Johnson).
From a Jewish perspective, the questions of identity and loyalties facing many British Jews today are explored in the very readable (and frequently very funny) novel 'The Finkler Question' by Howard Jacobson.
British tolerance and fair-mindedness can sometimes be obscured in the welter of extreme political agitation, but thankfully, most people in positions of influence remain for the most part, level-headed.
Michal, obviously, I don't live in the UK, but from what I read ... I find this article convincing and a cause for concern.Delete
links to the Telegraph pieces mentioned above:ReplyDelete
The antisemitic attacks endured by Freeman’s friends in London are appalling and the fear she and her friends now experience is well-founded. However, her statement that Poles massacred her father’s ancestors in the 1800s ruins an otherwise compelling article. I’ve read of the Russian pogroms throughout the nineteenth century but am unaware of Polish massacres of Jews during the same period. I’d be grateful if any blog participants would clarify. Gene SokolowskiReplyDelete
Good point, Gene. The phrase "Polish massacres of the 19th century" is sloppy editing at the Daily Mail. The correct phrase should have been "massacres in the Russian Empire of the 19th century", since Poland didn't exist, for one thing, and apart from that I've yet to find evidence of Polish-inspired violence in that period.ReplyDelete
Cheers- Michal Karski
It wasn't "sloppy editing" it was BieganskiDelete
The Daily Mail has done some brave reporting now and then, but it has a bit of a reputation for being at the sensational end of the British tabloid market and is not exactly renowned for accuracy.Delete
Having said all that - I could not categorically disagree with you. Your book lists many examples of this kind of thing, and the concern is that these glib phrases have become standard in newsrooms and publishing houses.
Cheers - M
"Massacres in the Russian Empire of the 19th century"? It's a long name, Mr Karski. To long for some people. Just like "nazi death camps in German occupied Poland". Anyway, this discussion reminds me of another one. Few years ago, on one forum some British Jewess wrote that her ancestors fled from "Poland" after "polish pogroms in Bialystok and Siedlce". Overconfidence was emanating from her every post. At that time I was wondering how a seemingly intelligent person could be so stubborn and proof-resistant.Delete
How many in the western media would write "German concentration camps" without being worried about offending the Germans or "Russian pogroms" (the word itself is Russian, after all), without being worried about offending the Russians?Delete
There doesn't seem to be too much worry in the media about offending the Poles, on the other hand, as Danusha Goska points out in the chapter of her book which describes how and why Poland has very often been scapegoated for the crimes of others.