Wednesday, August 17, 2016
Polish Jail Terms for Nazi Camp Slurs
Suggesting that Poland bears responsibility for the Holocaust is now a punishable crime in Poland.
Big mistake. Freedom of speech is the truth-tellers best friend. The answer to unattractive speech is not less speech, but more speech. Rather than jailing those who say what we don't want to hear, Poland, Poles, and Polonians should support Bieganski and the products of other truth-tellers.
BBC article here.
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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Can you legislate for respect?ReplyDelete
A clever legal mind, such as that belonging to Poland's Justice Minister, Mr Ziobro, should really be able to figure out a way of incorporating the offensive phrase "Polish death camps" into the already existing Polish law on Holocaust denial without framing new (and potentially unenforceable) legislation.
"Polish death camps" is inaccurate, since the implication is that Poland set up the camps. The implication that Poland set up the camps denies the existence of Nazi German death camps. A point of semantics, perhaps, but worth pursuing, it seems to me.
If Mr Ziobro - or indeed Mr Kaczynski himself - want to fight the Polish corner, then how about taking British historian Simon Webb to court for slandering the person and reputation of General Wladyslaw Sikorski?
The phrase "Polish death camp" could be defended - disingenuously, to be sure - as a geographic expression (although, who would say 'French aqueducts' or 'Turkish amphitheatres'?) It would be far more difficult to defend an allegation of anti-Semitism against someone whose government was responsible for issuing warnings to the Allies about the Holocaust and who personally spoke about the destruction of the Jews in Poland.
My thoughts are that it is a good idea to hold people accountable for things tht constitute slander. No one is saying that facts will be ignored and people jailed for the truth.ReplyDelete
But I think it's good that people will have to think before they speak. The same laws that prevent people saying horrible things about me that are unfonded should protect a people, a race, a < fill in the blank>.
Whats happened to date is that politics and coercion allow or prevent what's said and formed "a truth" in the minds of people who just don't have the resources to know any better.
If you were to comment on French collaboration for example, that would meet with quick and effective shutdown of the conversation. I see documents and real evidence that a significant part of French people were pro-Nazi. Not movies or fiction but primary sources. The popular view is that every Frenchman was a Marquis. Clearly not true historically. Try and suggest anything but the romantic view. ( warn me first so I can step aside in case I'm wearing my good cloths ).
If you can't tell a story without proof, call it was it is, fiction. Treat it as such.
What we have now is a weird kind of edu-tainment.
Don't like someone - great the expose and put him in a dress. Anything you want. Freedom of deception...eh, speech.
Because no one calls anyone to task about lying or misrepresenting the vulnerable. Facts should be based on evidence and not here-say or political clout.
Accountability, it's a good thing. Otherwise you get morons with power blaming the Jews to get the people riled up and forget there real problems it goes down hill from there... I peeked to the end of the book and it doesn't end well.
And need I say history repeats and the next moron picks a different group that are the low-lives making his world miserable. And people fall for it because it must be true...
Liron Rubin sent this in:ReplyDelete
Well said, Danusha.
Hell, even in Israel you can't be arrested for writing or speaking about the Judenrat or the Jewish ghetto police.
I suspect that this idiotic law has at its source the idiotic obsession of many in Poland and the Polish diaspora with a certain (possibly) idiotic Princeton scholar.
This law is the work of the perennially butt-hurt.
The night descends over Europe, several countries of which actually prosecute those who believe in holocaust denial.
If you don't like something, tell us why you don't like it and prove your adversary wrong.
Act like men, not like pampered Fauntleroys with a mean nationalistic streak.
In actuality, Holocaust denial is criminalized in many nations.ReplyDelete
I, too, am a free-speech absolutist, but let's examine the real world.
So long as speech unfavorable to one group (the Jews) is criminalized, then let speech unfavorable to another group (the Poles) also be criminalized.
Equal rights for all, and special rights for none!
But how would you enforce a 'Polish death camp' law? I've already seen an anonymous under-the-line commentator (can't remember where) saying something to the effect of: "What would be the punishment for saying 'Polish death camp'? Being sent to a Polish death camp?"Delete
How will the Polish Justice Ministry deal with that kind of scenario? Extradite anonymous trolls? You can't legislate for good will.
All your objections apply equally to the Holocaust-denial criminalization laws in western Europe, yet such laws exist, and have existed for a long time.Delete
Such laws serve an agenda, even if they are largely unenforcible, and mostly symbolic. Thus:
Holocaust-criminalization laws send the message that the genocide of Jews is supreme over the genocides of all other peoples. The new law in Poland sends the counter-message that the Holocaust-related denigration and defamation of Poland will not forever go on with impunity.
Of course, if the new law in Poland does not serve its purpose, even symbolically, then the Poles should try something else. I would.
"Holocaust-criminalization laws send the message that the genocide of Jews is supreme over the genocides of all other peoples"ReplyDelete
Michal ""What would be the punishment for saying 'Polish death camp'? Being sent to a Polish death camp?""ReplyDelete
bingo. It's a bad law and it will inevitably be mocked.
More about Holocaust denial.ReplyDelete
No one posting here mentioned Holocaust denial till Jan did.
But since he mentioned it ...
Propaganda was an *essential* arm of the Nazi war machine.
Essential. Not tangential.
The Nazi war machine is responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of people.
That's the difference.
In America Mein Kampf is not banned. It has been banned in Germany. Mein Kampf and other media were used as a tool of war in Germany. They are still potent as tools of war.
My immediate reaction when I heard about this proposed law - and this was many months ago and I've commented elsewhere - was this was going to be incredibly counterproductive and have precisely the opposite effect to the one intended (as illustrated by the mocking comment I appended above).ReplyDelete
Liron Rubin makes the point above about the freedom in Israel to bring up the sensitive subject of individual Jewish collaborators. A less democratic society would have introduced a law banning any "defamation of the Israeli people". What's happening to Poland? Don't the people in PiS realize that they are being increasingly seen worldwide as wanting to suppress legitimate debate? A scholar such as Jan T Gross ought to be challenged in the academic, not the legal sphere.
I'm in disagreement with J. Peczkis here (as happens quite often), and I don't think this law is desirable or workable, but in fairness to Jan, the subject of Holocaust denial was brought up in my own first comment. There is no consistency about the subject worldwide, as mentioned in Danusha's comment. Perhaps you should be able to buy 'Mein Kampf' in Germany. It might have stopped so-called 'ironic' comedies being made about Hitler surviving the bunker.
There is no doubt that there were individual Polish criminals - and not, as is all too often suggested - some sort of collective guilt by the Polish state - so I can understand the impulse to legislate with the aim of wiping out the offensive phrase once and for all. But we all know that this is unlikely to happen.
What to do? I may seem obsessive on the point of Sikorski - and he was by no means a saint - but a start could be made by defending individuals instead of trying a blanket ban on an offensive phrase.
you are right, the law is counterproductive. There wound not be anything for foreign media to report and less negative attention had it not been passed.Delete
Regarding Jan T Gross, He cannot be challenged academically. The academy is on his side. They have decided to deify Gross and not scrutinize his work.
There are other academics who are critical of Gross's work. I haven't seen him defending his claim that "Poles killed more Jews than they killed Germans". On the face of it, that does seem an extremely slanderous statement, and he needs to provide statistics to back that up, but, speaking of anything being 'counterproductive', even the rigidly non-philo-Semitic Jan Peczkis agrees that taking legal action against Gross runs the risk of making him into a martyr.Delete
Of course Gross can be challenged academically. Anyone can be challenged academically. It happens every day for heaven's sake. All it takes is a challenger.Delete
Gross still continues to make the claim.Delete
Gross does not take into account that Poles fought in other fronts of the war. That is where he gets his numbers wrong. Gross continues to make this claim even after being told he is probably wrong.
Sorry, but I do not believe that. The way everyone seems to take Gross' word regarding these issues suggests you are wrong.Delete
My guess is you are not familiar with academia. I am.Delete
All scholars are challenged every day. That's a fact of academic life, not dependent on what you choose to believe or not believe.
A scholar writes an article. It goes through peer review. Other scholars attack the article's main points.
A scholar publishes an article. Another scholar publishes an article disagreeing with the first article.
This is the everyday reality of academia. It's not magic. It's not arcane. It's how academia works.
I have studied the scholarly literature on Jedwabne, and find little evidence that Jan T. Gross has been criticized for ignoring evidence that does not support his blame-Poles thesis.Delete
On another subject, I thought that personal attacks are disallowed on this forum. So, if Michal Karski can name-call me "the rigidly non-philo-Semitic Jan Peczkis", would it be all right for me to name-call him "the wishy-washy Judeo-naive Michal Karski"? (Not that I would want to--just making a point).
I have said before, Mr Peczkis, that I would not want to accuse you of anti-Semitism because you seem to respect people like Berek Joselewicz and Marian Hemar. On the other hand, your comments do tend to give the impression that you see Jews in general as "the other side" (whatever that means). Therefore I think my description of your attitude is not a matter of name-calling but an attempt at accuracy. If you think I'm naive, then I can live with that.Delete
Semantics aside, you are still talking about me personally, and this is contrary to the rules of this blog.Delete
Besides, I already posted on this forum the fact that I am a Judeorealist, and this avoids the unthinking extremes of both anti-Semitism and philo-Semitism.
Enough talking about me. Let's get back to the subject of this blogspot.
I have nothing further to add to what I've already said.Delete
Laws criminalizing Holocaust denial perhaps had a legitimate purpose for a few years after WWII, when there was a possibility that Nazism could make a comeback.ReplyDelete
Now it is over 70 years since WWII, and the laws are still there. Evidently, these laws are supposed to go on forever and ever.
The double standard in perpetuity, in the treatment of the genocides of different peoples, is therefore obvious and unacceptable.
The good thing about the Bieganski forum is that we can disagree with each other and still be civilized and argue without hurling tons of abuse in the process, as happens elsewhere.ReplyDelete
I don't think that Holocaust denial laws were ever put in place to prevent Nazism making a comeback. Rather, as the story about Eisenhower wanting to photograph the Nazi atrocities in 1945 goes, it was to prevent "some bastards claiming in the future that these things never happened".
As I said in my first comment, the existing Holocaust denial laws of Poland should cover the offensive 'Polish death camp' description.
We should be united, Polish Jews and Polish Christians, against ignorant attempts at distorting history, from whichever quarter they might come.
About media censorship as a way of preventing a revival of Nazism:ReplyDelete