Monday, October 30, 2017

Leon Wieseltier and Harvey Weinstein. An Anti-Polonist Faces Accusations

Bieganski the Brute Polak Stereotype shows that anti-Polonism is NOT limited to any ethnicity or religion, nor is dedication to the truth. There are plenty of Poles who do their part to spread nasty stereotypes of their fellow Poles. Just read the comments on the anti-Polonist "Notes from Poland" Facebook page. One poster with a Polish name after another depicts all Poles as ignorant, bigoted, drunken, worthless, Catholic primitives. And there are many Jews who have done more to resist the stereotype than many Poles.

There are some Jews, though, who have dedicated themselves to defaming Poles and Poland. One: Leon Wieseltier. I quote a few of his anti-Polonist quotes in Bieganski, but those few brief mentions do not begin to exhaust his output.

Leon Wieseltier is now accused of workplace sexual harassment of women.

One account, "Leon delighted in making young women sexually uncomfortable."

Another article, "Wieseltier was lecherous, objectifying, demeaning, and bullying. He leered at his female employees, groped and kissed them at work functions, left them thank-you notes for wearing miniskirts to the office, and humiliated them when they rejected his advances.

What does it mean that these men — and so many others liked them — held the power to literally shape America’s political narrative? What does it mean, as New York magazine’s Rebecca Traister noted on Twitter, that the story of, say, Hillary Clinton’s public career was told by these sorts of men?"

Sometimes we are shocked when a public figure is accused of being a monster. Bill Cosby was so genial in his public persona. I am not at all surprised that Leon Wieseltier was a pig to women.

Mahwah NJ: Orthodox Jews and Bieganski as a New Jersey "Redneck"

Photo Credit The Forward
My book Bieganski: The Brute Polak Stereotype describes how empowered Westerners talk about Poles vis-à-vis Jews. Those empowered Westerners use a different standard when they talk about Poles than when they talk about any other group.

Bieganski objects to Americans saying, "There are Jewish people in America and we Americans never behave like those monstrous Poles did at Jedwabne." Jedwabne is the site of a notorious WW-II-era massacre of Jews by Poles.

Statements like that – Americans are nice and have never done what those extra bad Poles did – have made it into scholarly books. And they could not be less helpful, and more obscuring of the truth.  

Poland and America are not comparable. America has never experienced occupations comparable to those – by Nazis and Soviets – experienced by Poles during WW II. And Jews in the US are not comparable to Jews in Poland.

Jews in Poland occupied a separate caste, with its own separate culture, language, dress, hair styles, and economic status. Anti-Semitism in Poland was, more often than not, not about religion, but about caste conflict. Its roots were economic and cultural, and much less about theology.

Stephen G. Bloom's courageous 2001 book, Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America describes Orthodox Jews in a small Iowa town, and their culture clashes with locals. I tried to post an Amazon review but my review was blocked. I posted it on my blog here.

It's taboo to talk about how some aspects of Orthodox Judaism are difficult for non-Jewish neighbors to accommodate. That taboo against speech on an important topic doesn't help anybody.

Non-Jewish neighbors are now being accused of anti-Semitism in Mahwah, NJ. Orthodox Jews are moving into this small New Jersey town. Residents are very uncomfortable with some aspects of Orthodox Jewish culture, and how those aspects are affecting local life. Those residents are now being accused of anti-Semitism.

Non-Orthodox Jews are also being accused of anti-Semitism. Orthodox Jews erected an eruv in Mahwah – piping on telephone poles that, they say, allows them to do things like carry keys on the Sabbath without offending God. Here's a quote from the Forward:

"Fights against constructing an eruv … come from self-hating Jews,' said Joseph Kolakowski, an Orthodox rabbi who does chaplaincy work in the nearby Orthodox enclave, in a YouTube video on the subject. 'It’s the secular Jews who want to destroy all religions who are behind these things.'

Rabbi Barry Diamond, who leads the sole Reform congregation in Mahwah, rejected the idea that less religious or 'secular Jews' were opposed to the Orthodox community. 'There is no animus toward the Hasidic community,' Diamond said.

But Diamond, who supports the removal of the eruv, allowed that he does see the growing Orthodox community to the north as separate from his own. Locals have 'legitimate concerns' about how some Orthodox and Hasidic communities interact with the wider community when they move into an area, he said."

Residents fear that Orthodox Jews carry suitcases full of cash, and that they go to the doors of neighborhoods they want to move into, and move non-Jews out of, knock, and offer the cash to homeowners, who feel pressured to accept it, and move out. Some have proposed anti-door-knocking legislation.

Residents are afraid that their property values will plummet, and that their public-school system will be destroyed, as happened in nearby East Ramapo. There have been many press accounts, in the New York Times, the Forward, and This American Life, for example, of the scandalous destruction of public schools in East Ramapo.

People in Mahwah fear that something similar will happen to their schools.

Rushing to accuse the citizens of Mahwah of anti-Semitism is not helpful. What would be helpful would be a rational, fact-based discussion of the features of Orthodox Jewish life that concern the residents.

It's interesting that those accusing Mahwah residents of anti-Semitism are themselves using hateful and stereotyping words. Mahwah residents have been accused, in the press, of being "rednecks," "KKK," "Nazis," etc. It's interesting that these terms are NOT considered hate speech or evidence of prejudice.

Here's a comment by Jon Davis posted at NJ.Com: "Are you rednecks really that stupid? What is it that you and your hate mongering residents don't get? … Look at the video, it is eerily reminiscient [sic] of a KKK rally, only these people are arrogant enough not to wear hoods. Go ahead, double down on your own stupidity and fight the state. Then you can fight the Feds when they come in. Then you can explain to your pitchfork wielding 'good folk' of Mahwah why their real estate taxes will double"

Inflammatory, stereotyping, hateful rhetoric like Davis' will not help anyone.

Mahwah mayor accused of anti-Semitism. Recall effort read here

Mahwah hit with a lawsuit. Read more here.

Residents say Orthodox Jews from NY are "crowding" local parks. Read here

Friday, October 20, 2017

Two Countries: Daughters and Sons of Immigrant Parents

The new anthology, Two Countries: Daughters and Sons of Immigrant Parents, contains an essay by me and poems by John Guzlowski. You can buy the book at Amazon here.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Tablet: "The Specifically Jewy Perviness of Harvey Weinstein"

In recent days, US media has been flooded with allegations of sexual assault against Harvey Weinstein.

Given that I'm the author of Bieganksi: The Brute Polak Stereotype, Its Role in Polish-Jewish Relations and American Popular Culture, I wanted to see how much these accusations would be taken up by anti-Semites and interwoven with traditional images of Jews as sexual predators.

Given that the standard stereotype of Jews in the West depicts Jewish men as being less manly – Jews read, Jews write, Jews, stereotypically, don't fight with their fists – it may seem odd that Jews would be depicted as sexual predators, but they have been.

A hundred years ago, Jews were disproportionally represented in international sex trafficking. A good book on this topic is Edward W. Bristow's Prostitution and Prejudice: The Jewish Fight Against White Slavery, 1870-1939.

The Forward ran a piece on the anti-Semitic alt-right pouncing on the Weinstein story. The Forward story begins,

"White supremacists on the 'alt-right' are gleefully jumping on accusations that Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein sexually harassed employees and actresses for decades as 'evidence' of their anti-Semitic worldview.

Pointing to Weinstein, some on the far right say his story illustrates that Jews have a perverse and degenerative effect on American society — and are contributing to the 'downfall of the white race.'

'Harvey Weinstein story … is a case study in the corrosive nature of Jewish domination of our media and cultural industries,' David Duke … wrote on his website. Duke devoted two separate podcasts, each over an hour long, to Weinstein's career-long 'assault on American culture.' 'It's really shocking that this Jewish pervert could be revealed to be a Jewish pervert,' Duke said with sarcasm."

I did not expect a Jewish publication to identify Weinstein's crimes as specifically Jewish, but the Tablet has done so.

The Tablet relates Weinstein's despicable and criminal assaults to Philip Roth's writing.

"As a boy, Portnoy fantasized about attaining a mythical shiksa goddess whom he nicknamed Thereal McCoy (get it?), who ice-skates 'in her blue parka and her red earmuffs and her big white mittens—Miss America, on blades! With her mistletoe and her plum pudding (whatever that may be),' but as a grown-up he graduates to the real woman he nicknames The Monkey. And what does he do to abase her? He has her perform with an Italian whore. Yes, he eventually joins in, but not before they enact a bad movie—not Hollywood, but San Fernando Valley triple-X. And his nickname for her, The Monkey? That comes from an episode in her life, from before Portnoy met her, when a couple swingers picked her up and wanted her to eat a banana while she watched them copulate. For having a past that gets him hot, she gets degraded with an animalistic nickname …

Harvey is cut from the same cloth. Growing up in Queens, he fantasized of fame and fortune … he harassed women not necessarily to use them as instruments of his pleasure, but to use them as instruments of his power.

It goes without saying that nearly every one of these women—Rose McGowan, Ambra Batillana, Laura Madden, Ashley Judd, etc.—was a Gentile, all the better to feed Weinstein’s revenge-tinged fantasy of having risen above his outer-borough, bridge-and-tunnel Semitic origins."

Here's the thing.

Stereotyping Harvey Weinstein's crimes as "Jewish" crimes has been rapidly and powerfully condemned. Society recognizes that stereotypes of Jews are dangerous and society acts on that knowledge.

Stereotyping Poles as Bieganski is standard operating procedure. See previous post in this blog. Some Polish Catholics prayed the rosary, and they were roundly and internationally condemned as dangerous, racist, ignorant, violent, backward bigots.

Shylock Bad.

Bieganski Good.

And only Polonia can change that – and Polonia is doing nothing to change it.

You can read the full Tablet piece here.

You can read a subsequent apology here

The Forward objects, as do many other press organs. See one piece here.

Fox News posted an article arguing that Harvey Weinstein is an embarrassment for Jews. You can read that article here

Monday, October 9, 2017

Polish Catholics Pray; Elites Panic

Wojtek Radwanski / Agence France Press / Getty Images 
Polish Catholics held a public prayer event, sponsored by churches. They prayed along the Bug River, Poland's border. 

And elites panicked. 

Islamophobic! they accused. 

For heaven's sake. These are Catholics praying the rosary and people are *afraid*? 

Priorities, people. 

If you want to read about why Polish Catholics praying is a bad, bad thing, something you need to fear and revile, visit the "Notes from Poland" Facebook page, which can always be relied on to tell you that Poland is backward, xenophobic, violent, racist, drunken, and a complete failure.

Here's one quote, "idiots, these are the rednecks of Europe who live in the 10th century, their backward christian thinking is quite astonishing, especially when compared to the Christians of the middle east who adopted Christianity 1000 years before the Poles did"

And another, "I'd write something, but I only have expletives on my mind, and I need to remind myself that not all Christians are short-sighted, easily manipulated fanatics..."

And another, " I wish these so-called "Christians" would listen to their own Bible for a change! John 14,27: "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled; do not be afraid." Being "afraid" is exactly what their Jesus told them NOT to do!!"

There are much too many more to quote them all here. You can find them all here under a post from October 7. 

The event was covered in several press organs. You can read the New York Times coverage here. covered the event here