Tuesday, February 26, 2019
No One is Talking about Cold War. Further Evidence of How Poles Have Failed to Shed Light on Their Story
Years ago, in the 1980s, I attended a meeting of high-minded liberals at Black Oak Books in Berkeley, California. A speaker for some high-minded international organization, I forget which one, had a huge map of the world on display. The speaker divided the world up into influence zones. The overall message was that Americans must be nicer to a given overseas population. The talk was meant to be comprehensive, to address *the entire world.*
After the talk and the applause were done, I raised my hand. "Your talk and your map are meant to treat the entire world. There is part of the world that you have totally ignored. You don't mention the Baltics from the north to the Balkans in the south of Eastern Europe."
The speaker appeared totally embarrassed, taken aback. The reaction was "OMG."
The speaker hadn't even thought of Eastern Europe, in this meant-to-be comprehensive division of the world into zones and how Americans should feel about each zone.
After Sunday night's Oscars, I have heard, on NPR, at least *four* broadcasts devoted to telling the audience that one must not like the best-picture winner, "Green Book." Why? Because it features a sympathetic white, male character. I heard these broadcasts on "All Things Considered," "Q," "All of It," and at least one other broadcast, forget which one.
It went like this. "Black Panther" should have won because it is BLACK. "Roma" should have won because it is HISPANIC. "Green Book" should not have won because it features a sympathetic white male, and we all know white males are evil. Oh, and, we all liked "Crazy Rich Asians," because Asian, but Asian is almost white, so it doesn't score as high as black or Hispanic.
This is the conversation in the US right now. Anyone who wants to address stereotypes of Poles in the West needs to understand and address this wider conversation.
A film that no one talked about in any of these Oscar post-mortems was "Cold War." A Polish movie. That has received the highest praise. Because Poles have not worked their story into the national dialogue. Powers-that-be talking about ethnicity in America don't have to factor Poles into that conversation, even after a critically praised movie is ignored at the Oscars, because Pole's inability to make themselves heard in the national conversation renders Poles non-beings in that national conversation about race and ethnicity.
My book, Bieganski, does work Poles' story into the national conversations about race and ethnicity. Thus the chapters devoted to the history of the stereotype, and how it has played out against stereotypes of Blacks and Jews.
Poles might benefit from reading, using, and supporting this book.