|The Accusation by James Huntley Source|
Beating in Pruchnik, Poland, April 19, 2019
ago I read an article about mixed marriages between black and white Americans.
The article was published in the 1960s, when such marriages were rare and
risky. The spouses were a testament to the triumph of love. They also testified
to a less savory human quality. Spouses reported, "When things get really
tense, that moment comes, when he (or she) calls me a n - - - - r" – or "cracker"
or some other racist slur. Yes, you can love someone so much that you defy
custom or even the law. But when push comes to shove, your ancient training in
engaged in Polish-Jewish dialogue are like those spouses. We struggle for
decades to progress past fear, hate, and stereotyping. But when tension arises,
we are shoved right back into the stereotype box. We become, again,
"medieval" "dumb Polak" "Nazi scum."
April 21, 2019, a beloved Facebook friend posted a link to a World Israel News article entitled "WATCH:
Polish townsfolk beat, burn Jewish effigy for 'betraying Jesus.'" In the
ensuing discussion with several Jewish Facebook users, our friendships frayed
to near non-existence. My friends presented me with a litmus test. I could
publicly announce that I am ashamed to be Polish, or I could lose our
Friday, April 19, in Pruchnik, Poland, children beat an effigy meant to
represent Judas. The effigy appeared to be made of burlap. "Judas 2019 traitor"
was written on its chest. The effigy had a long nose, black side curls, and a
small black hat. Eventually men sliced the effigy open and set alight the straw
contents. This six-minute video was covered, and condemned, by the Washington Post, the Times of Israel, The Forward, Haaretz, The
BBC, Newsweek, Reuters, U. S. News and World Report, ABC News, The Times (London),
and too many others to list.
no mistake. None of this was ethical journalism covering a real rural village,
population 3,500 in the Carpathian mountains. In fact, the World Israel News didn't even bother to spell the town's name
correctly, dubbing it "Parchnik." No journalists covering this event
traveled to Pruchnik or interviewed the villagers and asked them what this
custom means to them.
This coverage was all about reinforcing the Brute Polak stereotype. As
described in my book, "Poles possess the qualities of animals. They are
strong, stupid, violent, fecund, anarchic, dirty, and especially hateful in a
way that more evolved humans are not … The special hatefulness of the Brute
Polak is epitomized by his Polish
Brute Polak serves many purposes. One reason it exists is to shift blame for
the Holocaust away from German Nazis and onto Polish Catholic peasants.
Further, the Brute Polak stereotype is used to discredit all Christians and
Christianity itself. Ultimately, the Brute Polak stereotype is exploited by
those invested in discrediting Western Civilization and its Judeo-Christian
roots. Christianity is one foundation of Western Civilization. Poland is noted
as a Catholic country. Slipping Poland into the historical slot earned by Nazi
Germany is an aid in discrediting Western Civilization.
below, are cut and pasted from social media and news sites covering Pruchnik. I
did not edit these comments and they contain their original errors in spelling,
punctuation and grammar. Many of these comments were signed with first and last
"always were and always will be virulently antisemitic . Its in their
the Polacks they never disappoint , stupid then , stupid now, stupid forever !!"
time to put an end to their very lucrative Holocaust tourism industry--by which
they profit from murdering their Jewish citizens twice over!"
there was any doubt that many Poles are anti-semitic to the core, this should
dash those doubts … Catholicism who keeps them in this darkness is a crime."
Catholicism that is the Satanic strategy against the Jewish people."
sages tell us that Poland is doomed. They will never amount to much due to
their perpetual antisemitism."
used Christianity to support his extermination of the Jews."
shed no tear over Notre Dame. But Poland and the Catholic Church there are
notorious for their anti-semitisn. The Crusades, Inquisition, and The Holocaust
were Catholic led and inspired."
Poles are still filthy Nazi scum. They deny complicity with the Germans, but
they were eager to participate in the murder of Jews. What was then is still
true now. Never forget. Never forgive."
is why Hitler put all his big camps there. He knew no Poles would mount any raids
on them. Think about it! Did the polish underground lift a finger in 1943?
is a matter of common knowledge that the Polish govt was in league with the
Germans didn't murder all 3 million Polish Jews without a lot of help from the
local Polish anti-Semites. I'm so glad the Soviets occupied Poland and made
their lives miserable."
ask America to come and save you when Russian rolls it's tanks and army into
your pathetic country."
of little paganists. Many Poles have Jewish ancestry. There are some decendants
of intermarriages here too besides regular Poles. Show this to dumb
intermarrying Jews in US, EU etc. Shey should see what kind imbeciles can be
christian community can not keep its hate focused on Judas only. The effigy … was
to evoke hate toward present day Jews, to get kids accustom to physically
attacking modern Jews, to propagate christian hate to a new generation. It is
not hard to recognize that christians are gearing up for a new spasm of
genocidal wars … Europe's Christian identity is historically based on the
genocide of all other life on the earth … It is not coincidence that both world
wars were started by Europe's Christian identity. Nor is it a coincidence that
the rampage of genocide across all the inhabited continents is based on Europe's
Christian identity … One can add the global slave trade."
inspired violence proves that civilization resting on technology, science,
legislation, and rational discourse has so fragile links to one generation to
the next that blind abstract hate will find real victims, again and again, if
the links to history are not sustained in public education. Given Poland's role
in the Holocaust, there ought to be no symbolic violence but only expressions
of Christan nonviolence on Easter."
Brute Polak stereotype is not limited to comments sections. The Washington Post coverage, titled "Children
beat effigy of Judas in Poland, amid persistence of 'medieval anti-Semitism'"
was written by Rick Noack. On April 22, Noack had published "Christianity
Under Attack? Sri Lanka Church Bombings Stoke Far Right Anger in the West."
That article began by calling the murder of Christians by jihadis a "theme."
Noack was widely
criticized for trivializing the murder of Christians attending
Easter services in Sri Lanka. Noack also criticized fundraising for Notre Dame
cathedral, "Notre Dame may have too much money after billionaires and
others rushed to pledge." Pruchnik was a gift to Christophobic,
uses the word "medieval." The
World Jewish Congress also used the word "medieval," and
linked "medieval" with the Holocaust. "Jews are deeply disturbed
by this ghastly revival of medieval antisemitism that led to unimaginable
violence and suffering."
is a dog whistle for the Brute Polak stereotype. Nazism was an entirely modern
phenomenon. Associating genocide with the word "medieval" is a way to
link mass murder with the Catholic Church. Catholicism had a monopoly in the
West before the Reformation, which began in 1517, 25 years after one commonly
accepted end of the medieval era. Using the word "medieval" further
links genocide with rural people living what are described as "backward"
lives. If only these folks would "evolve," would "progress"
into a "modern, progressive" form, there would be no more violence.
Brute Polak stereotype is historically revisionist. Nazism was opposed to
Christianity, especially Catholicism. See "Against
Identifying Nazism with Christianity." Nazis were educated,
urban, and in their own minds quite "evolved." No top Nazis were
uneducated, or were peasants. As Steven Zipperstein, Daniel E. Koshland
Professor in Jewish Culture and History at Stanford University wrote,
Nazi Germany was "Europe's most cultivated, certainly its best-educated
country. Germany had the world's finest elementary school system, the highest
literacy rate and the best universities; by 1913 more books were published
annually in Germany than in any country in the world. Its technical skill, its
industry, its relentless business savvy … marked it off as among modernity's
fascinating rhetorical pirouette, that appeared to go unnoticed by those in the
comments section, Noack wrote, "With anti-Semitic attacks on the rise
across Europe," conflating Pruchnik villagers with assaults on Jews in
Paris and London. Who is beating those Jews? Not Poles. "Anti-Semitism has
spread through the Islamic world like a cancer" The Washington Post reported in 2019. "European Jews … cannot
avoid the issue of Muslim antisemitism. Not only have many of the bloodiest
attacks on European Jews in recent times been carried out by Muslims, surveys –
including the Institute for Jewish Policy Research's 2017 antisemitism survey –
do show distinctly higher levels of antisemitic attitudes amongst Muslims,"
The Jewish Chronicle reported on May
wrote, "The Catholic Church taught for much of the past century that the
death of Jesus was to be blamed on Jews." The Catholic Church rejected the
deicide charge against Jews in the sixteenth century Council of Trent, in 1965's
Nostra Aetate, and in other
documents. I was raised Catholic and was never taught that Jews were
responsible for Jesus' death. Yes, some Catholics believe in deicide. But
that's not what Noack wrote. He wrote it was church teaching.
War II and the Holocaust triggered a rethink and the abandonment of that
interpretation within the church. But not all communities changed course."
German Noack makes clear: The Catholic Church is responsible for WW II and the
Holocaust, and Poland clings to that guilt-ridden stance. That children beat a
Judas effigy in Pruchnik is proof.
never get the facts right. Beating Judas effigies is not particularly "Polish."
One respondent to the Washington Post's coverage
wrote, "I grew up in Poland and have never seen or heard of this hateful
practice. On top of it both Church and politicians condemned this practice."
Same here. I've celebrated dozens of Polish-themed Easters, in the US and
Poland, and I am unfamiliar with beating Judas as well.
one traveled to Pruchnik to interview the villagers. Were the Washington Post discussing any other
custom in any other remote, maligned corner of the world, you can bet that that
depth of investigation is what they would demand. No liberal discusses even a
custom as heinous as Muslim female genital mutilation without treating the
practitioners with kid-glove respect. I have received graduate training in
anthropology at one of the best universities in the world and I can testify
that we never talked about any custom except with respect for the
practitioners. Even if you want to change a custom, you have to first respect
those who practice is. Unless they are rural Polish villagers.
Judas has been practiced in Greece, the Philippines, and Latin America, as well
as Liverpool, England. Of course majority Protestant England also burns the
Catholic Guy Fawkes in effigy annually. UNESCO's
World Heritage List includes mention of the Czech version of the
Judas custom. No one is accusing any Mexicans, who have been enthusiastic
practitioners of the beating-of-Judas custom, of being responsible for the
Holocaust. The exclusive focus on Poland for an international custom that never
reached its height in Poland again reveals that this panic is all about revivifying
the Brute Polak stereotype in order that it can continue to perform its
historically revisionist task of rewriting WW II history.
those condemning Poles and Poland are not interested in changing or eliminating
the beating of Judas custom in Pruchnik is revealed by their very lack of
respect. Now that a town of 3,500 rural people, utterly powerless to change the
international opprobrium heaped upon them, have been verbally pilloried around
the world, how likely do you think those villagers will be to listen to any
suggestions for change? Of course they are not likely to listen. Those
condemning this custom don't want it to disappear; they want to milk it for all
it is worth. If you want the custom to change, you go to Pruchnik, you address
the villagers as your equals, and you work with them for a better world.
response to being demonized, Poles on social media asked Jews to consider their
fellow Jews who have hung highly inflammatory Purim effigies. In some photos,
Orthodox Jews hang effigies made to look like Israeli soldiers. In others, Jews
hang effigies that are obviously African American themed. Poles pleaded, can't
you see how wrong it would be to label all Jews as racist or anti-Israel on the
basis of an inflammatory Purim effigy?
want to ask my Jewish brothers and sisters to consider another analogy. The
international panic over Pruchnik, a town no one has heard of before this, is
itself an act of beating and burning a hated stereotypical figure. The world is
invited to hate Polaks and blame them for the Holocaust, because a handful of
people no one actually talked to engaged in a custom that is both ambiguous and
is Pruchnik the only time some Jews created an effigy of a hated, stereotypical
version of Polish identity. In considering Pruchnik, I cannot help but think of
Isaac Bashevis Singer, H. N. Bialik, Philip Roth, Art Spiegelman, Lenny Bruce,
and many others. Singer won a Nobel Prize in literature. He described Poles as "beasts"
who urinate, defecate and copulate publicly, expose themselves, never bathe,
eat rats, grunt like animals, scream and laugh madly, and have six fingers and
toes. All this ugliness comes from just one paragraph from just one of Singer's
novels. Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer-Prize-winning comic book Maus is required reading in the Holocaust canon. In Spiegelman's
book, Poles are quite literally pigs. Thanks to Spiegelman, generations of
American school children have been taught to regard Poles as pigs. H. N. Bialik,
Israel's national poet, also called Poles pigs. "A sty of pig-men"
was how Bialik characterized a tavern in a Polish village. Philip Roth, winner
of the National Book Award, the Man Booker Prize, and awarded, by President
Obama, a National Humanities Medal, described Poles as "big, dumb … dumb,
blonde … direct descendants of the ox." Lenny Bruce, hailed as a cultural
icon, imagined a world where all ethnicities could unite in brotherhood.
Multicultural humanity would then turn on the real enemy: Poles. "It won't
matter, it won't matter anymore even if you are colored and I'm Jewish, and
even if Fritz is Japanese, and Wong is Greek, because then…we're all gonna
stick together – and beat up the Polacks!" If Poles flew into a tizzy
every time they were stereotyped by a movie, newspaper article, or March of the
Living tour, they wouldn't have time for anything else. Clearly, to stereotype
is very much not the same things as to commit genocide. Were it, Jews would be
guilty of genocides of Poles. In fact every one of us who ever stereotyped our
ethnic others would be guilty of genocide, and there would be no one left on
earth. I will not present my Jewish friends with any litmus test. I will not
demand that they pillory Singer or Bruce or Spiegelman. I ask only, when they speak
about Pruchnik, that they factor in to their understanding the effigies hanging
in their own closets.
high stakes culture wars, that will determine the fates not just of individuals
but of civilizations, Catholics and Jews are natural allies. Historically there
is no Poland without Jews. There is no modern Jewish identity without Poland.
The brute stereotype serves the propaganda purposes of the enemies of Western
Civilization to discredit both Christianity and Judaism.
Catholic, I believe that Jews are my older brothers in the faith, as my Polish
pope and peasant-stock parents taught me. I revere Genesis 12:1-3. I stand with
Jews against BDS and the Ilhan Omars of this world. I ask my Jewish brothers
and sisters to stand with me against the Brute Polak stereotype. I ask Jews to
stand with me and all Poles not just when it is easy to do so, but also when it
is hard. I ask Jews to stand with us not just to honor one-of-a-kind celebrity
heroes like Jan Karski. Stand with us also when it comes to difficult moments,
like when one of your number hangs an offensive Purim effigy, and when some of
us Poles do the wrong thing. I'm not asking you to close your eyes. I'm not
asking you to approve. I'm asking you to extend to us, as the best of us extend
to you, patience, respect, dialogue, and a refusal to revert to stereotypes
that harm us all.
This piece appeared in Polish in Dziennik Zwiazkowy
"The Brute Polak serves many purposes. One reason it exists is to shift blame for the Holocaust away from German Nazis and onto Polish Catholic peasants. Further, the Brute Polak stereotype is used to discredit all Christians and Christianity itself. Ultimately, the Brute Polak stereotype is exploited by those invested in discrediting Western Civilization and its Judeo-Christian roots. Christianity is one foundation of Western Civilization. Poland is noted as a Catholic country. Slipping Poland into the historical slot earned by Nazi Germany is an aid in discrediting Western Civilization."
We agree on something.Delete
Very well researched and very well written.
Debasing others elevates the debasers and, as you point out, the likelihood that such debasement may be unjust must not be considered as this would undermine the debasers’ lofty self-image.
The ignorance and visceral hatred in the comments from social media and news sites covering Pruchnik are appalling and sadly confirm the extent to which Bieganski has been blindly accepted and continues to be propagated.
The analogy of Purim and Judas effigies is clearly applicable but such a comparison would never occur to the haters. Speaking of which, Noack is quite the Pole hater. As you point out, haters never get the facts right and this clearly applies to Noack.
Thank you GeneDelete
Hello Dr Goska,ReplyDelete
A fine article. I was left with mixed feelings after reading it. But it gave me something to think about.
As is my custom, I added a link.
Thank you LukaszDelete