Thursday, August 31, 2023

Bieganski Lives: Tomasz Kamusella: "Rapacious Anti-Semitism Is the Foundation of the Polish Nation"


Tomasz Kamusella's academic biography is here. From that biography, "I was born in Upper Silesia, at that time in communist Poland. I received education at universities in the Czech Republic, Poland and South Africa. I did postdoctoral research at universities and institutes in Austria, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the US. I worked in Poland and Trinity College Dublin, before moving to St Andrews in 2011 … I am an interdisciplinary historian of modern central and eastern Europe, with a focus on language politics and nationalism."
In July, 2023, Kamusella released a paper entitled "Anti-Semitism: The Foundation of the Polish Nation." Quotes, below, are from that publication. You can read the entire paper here.


The paper is undisciplined. It does not meet academic standards. It does not advance a single thesis statement and support that statement with facts. The author jumps from asserting that "rapacious anti-Semitism" is the foundation of the Polish nation to condemnation of the szlachta's exploitation of serfs, and condemnation of all of Christianity.


In short, the article is a Gish gallop. A Gish gallop is logical fallacy. Here's the Wikipedia definition of a Gish gallop: "The Gish gallop is a rhetorical technique in which a person in a debate attempts to overwhelm their opponent by providing an excessive number of arguments with no regard for the accuracy or strength of those arguments. Gish galloping prioritizes the quantity of the galloper's arguments at the expense of their quality."


Kamusella's paper is a Gish gallop.


But here's the thing – he's denigrating Poland and Christianity. So his paper offers up the flavor of hate that academia wants. That is, of course, Bieganski: The Brute Polak Stereotype.


Thank you to Paul Kujawsky for sending this in.


The first two paragraphs of Kamusella's paper:


At the turn of the 20th century, framers of the Polish national ideology and leaders of the Polish national movement adopted antisemitism for building a Polish nation from the two enemy ethnic groups, namely, the Polish-Lithuanian noble gentry and ‘their’ Catholic and Slavophone serfs, or forced laborers. The Polish national idea excluded Jews, but its supporters had no qualms at grabbing Jewish property and cultural achievements, whenever possible and useful for the nation-building project and for individual members of such a Polish nation under construction.


With time, this rapacious antisemitism was written out, and even whitewashed, from the Polish national master narrative taught at Polish schools. Also, thanks to the partial incorporation of the competing ethnoconfessional and socialist projects of a Polish nation, the former being vaguely civic in its character, while the latter allowing membership through conversion to Catholicism. This process of forgetting about antisemitic atrocities has been helped by the ‘vanishing’ of Poland’s Jews, first in the Holocaust and subsequently in the country’s communist-period ethnic cleansing of Holocaust survivors. Yet, with the authoritarian turn in Polish politics after 2015, antisemitism is back in political practice and programs. Notwithstanding the absence of Jews as a visible community, antisemitism – quite frighteningly – still attracts votes at the ballot box.