Monday, May 25, 2020

Watching Jo Jo Rabbit with a Former Hitler Youth Member

Poignant article about watching Jo Jo Rabbit with a former Hitler Youth member. Thanks to Jerzy for sending this in. 

I Watched Jojo Rabbit With a Former Hitler Youth

"Your Pain is Better Than Mine" Polish Censorship Row

A No. 1 Hit Vanished From Poland’s Charts. It’s Not Going Quietly.

In a furor over censorship, prominent broadcasters resigned and artists asked for the state-run radio station at the center of the controversy to stop playing their music.
New York Times 

"“Your Pain Is Better Than Mine,” which on Friday had more than nine million views on YouTube, is a not-so-veiled censure of a privilege extended to a top politician during the coronavirus lockdown. Mr. Kaczynski, whom the song does not mention by name, was allowed a visit to a Warsaw cemetery in April while it was closed to the public. The visit took place on the anniversary of the Smolensk crash, in which Mr. Kaczynski’s twin brother, Lech, Poland’s president at the time, died. The opening of the cemetery especially for Mr. Kaczynski was sharply criticized on social media."

Polish Assistance Requesting Donations for Covid-19 Relief

I received an email from Polish Assistance, a group requesting donations to help needy Polish people during the covid-19 pandemic. Please see more here:

Your Tax Dollars Pay to Balkanize Your Country and Demonize Your Heritage


It's not just Polish people who are concerned about how their history is misrepresented in American public schools. Jews are also concerned, and with good reason. 

California's Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum has been criticized as anti-Semitic and for pushing forward Arab narratives that depict Jews as genocidal and Muslims as helpless, innocent  victims whom American schoolchildren must support through anti-Israel political activity. 

The LA Times reports 

"a current draft of the model curriculum, drawn up by a committee of teachers and academics and headed to the State Board of Education, is an impenetrable melange of academic jargon and politically correct pronouncements. It’s hard to wade through all the references to hxrstory and womxn and misogynoir and cisheteropatriarchy...

 the proposed ethnic studies curriculum feels like an exercise in groupthink, designed to proselytize and inculcate more than to inform and open minds. It talks about critical thinking but usually offers one side and one side only.

“For example, if students decide they want to advocate for voting rights for undocumented immigrant residents at the school district and city elections, they can develop arguments in favor of such a city ordinance and then plan a meeting with their city council person or school board member.”

some students might think that the right to vote in mayoral and city council elections is the prerogative of citizens, not noncitizens (that’s not a right-wing idea, is it?), and they might want to meet with the school district about that. Chances are, with a curriculum like this one, they’d be afraid to even mention it.

Similarly, there’s a suggested list of social movements that students might research — but here again, the curriculum feels awfully one-sided. There’s nothing wrong with students studying the Black Panther Party or the Third World Liberation Front or the Occupy Movement or the Palestinian-led BDS movement. But what happened to studying a range of ideas, reflecting a variety of ideologies and perspectives, and having students take sides, dispute and debate those ideas, honing their research and thinking in the process, and ultimately deciding for themselves? This curriculum feels like it is more about imposing predigested political views on students than about widening their perspectives.

Among other things, the model curriculum lists capitalism with white supremacy and racism as “forms of power and oppression.” OK, but shouldn’t students also hear arguments that capitalism has allowed for an expansion over time of the middle class, or even from those who believe in a laissez-faire, sink-or-swim economy."

The Jewish News of Northern California reports,

"As conflict continues to flare up in the Bay Area and across the state surrounding a draft of an ethnic studies curriculum for public high schools — which was highly critical of Israel and omitted Jews as an ethnic group for study — officials with the California Department of Education have told Jewish lawmakers of at least one requested change: references to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement have been deleted."

The self-described goal of the curriculum 

"“At its core, the field of ethnic studies is the interdisciplinary study of race, ethnicity, and indigeneity with an emphasis on experiences of people of color in the United States,” adding, “The field critically grapples with the various power structures and forms of oppression, including, but not limited to, white supremacy, race and racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, islamophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia, that continue to impact the social, emotional, cultural, economic, and political experiences of Native People(s) and people of color.”

The Anaheim blog writes 

"Teachers are encouraged to cite the biographies of “potentially significant figures” such as Angela Davis, Frantz Fanon and Bobby Seale. Convicted cop-killers Mumia Abu-Jamal and Assata Shakur are also on the list. Students are taught that the life of George Jackson matters “now more than ever.” Jackson, while in prison, became “a revolutionary warrior for Black liberation and prison reform.” The Latino section’s people of significance include Puerto Rican nationalists Oscar López Rivera, a member of a paramilitary group that carried out more than 130 bomb attacks, and Lolita Lebrón, who was convicted of attempted murder in a group assault that wounded five congressmen...

In a sample lesson on Native Americans, the curriculum suggests students offer their responses to a fictional environmentalist speech by Chief Seattle as well as an anodyne quote about relationships from the recently deceased rapper Nipsey Hussle. The Chief Seattle error is part of a larger problem. The curriculum perpetuates the myth that the Indians had the same values as present-day ecologists. In truth, Native Americans had a mixed approach to nature. The curriculum writers should have looked carefully at the scholarly evidence presented in Shepard Krech’s 1999 book, “The Ecological Indian”—about, for example, the setting of brush fires that got out of control and the needless killing of buffalo, beaver and deer."

Monday, May 11, 2020

Rewilding: Lessons from the Medieval Baltic Crusades by Aleks Pluskowski

Bison in Bialowieza Photo by Magnus Elander 
"The Forest of Białowieża, which straddles the border of Poland and Belarus, is unique in Europe: it is incredibly ancient. Woodland has been continuously present there for some 12,000 years. With the protection of 6059 hectares from human disturbance within the Polish national park, as well as the return of its iconic European bison herds from the brink of extinction, the forest is widely regarded as a model for restoring biodiversity or “rewilding”, which areas across Europe are trying to emulate

From the end of the 12th century, the pagan tribal societies of the eastern Baltic (today Estonia, Latvia, western Lithuania, north-east Poland and the Russian Kaliningrad Oblast), became the targets of relentless crusades from the West. The conquered tribal territories were reorganised as Catholic polities called Livonia and Prussia and the native aristocracy was replaced by a theocracy, dominated by the Teutonic Order. They built impressive castles, the largest of which were effectively fortified monasteries.

The sustainability of the new regime depended on the exploitation of natural resources, particularly for food, fuel and building materials. To this end, the theocracy encouraged Catholic migrants from neighbouring German and Polish regions to settle the conquered territories.

Here we found the pollen record showed a drop in human activity and reforestation. This became known as the “Great Wilderness”. Fragments are still visible today, particularly in north-eastern Poland. Written sources and animal bones recovered from frontier castles indicate diverse wildlife: it is here that the last wild European aurochs and bison took refuge. Noticeable human impact on vegetation in the Great Wilderness largely dates from the 17th century."

Full story here

Friday, May 8, 2020

Russian Activists Remove Plaque Commemorating Katyn Massacre

Artyom Vazhenkov / Facebook
"Russian activists on Thursday removed two plaques memorializing the Stalinist executions of thousands of Polish prisoners of war 80 years ago, following orders from local authorities who claimed there is no evidence of the crimes.

Prosecutors in the city of Tver, in an October 2019 order to remove the plaques from the former Soviet secret police building, said their inscriptions were “not based on documented facts.” The Soviet Union in 1990 took responsibility for the 1940 murders of nearly 22,000 Polish officers — including 6,000 in the NKVD secret police building's basement in Tver northwest of Moscow — in what became known as the Katyn massacre."

Read full story here