Friday, 10 June 2016

The Brute Polak Stereotype in Polish-Jewish Relations and American Popular Culture


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The book by Dr Danusha V. Goska  [William Paterson U., Wayne, New Jersey], 'Bieganski: The Brute Polak Stereotype in Polish-Jewish Relations and American Popular Culture' (Academic Studies Press, July 1, 2010) is of relevance to what Rabbi Friedman and a lot of other US Jews are saying. I do not suppose the ranting Rabbi will have read it or any other academic Press book on Poland. The Author has a blog: "Bieganski the Blog" which contains a lot of interesting and related material. I do not expect the Ranting Rabbi's tagalong students have been there either. I've not yet read the book (got it ordered), but here are some reviews:
"Bieganski is a truly important book because it challenges and demolishes the widely held belief that Poles are nothing more than ignorant and brutish anti-Semites who played a central role in causing the Holocaust. Goska does a first-rate job of describing how Jews and Poles really interacted with each other over their rich history together. Let's hope that this book is widely read and helps change the conventional wisdom about Polish-Jewish relations." (John J. Mearsheimer, R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago)

"Danusha Goska's daring and far-reaching study examines the sources and prevalence of stereotyped images of Poles as brutal, subhuman creatures. Drawing on her extensive research in history, popular culture, and folklore, and also on interviews of Poles and Jews in America today, interviews of both stereotypers and victims of stereotyping, she teaches us all something profound about how the image of the Polak originated and why it continues to flourish." (John Guzlowski, author of The Third Winter of War: Buchenwald and Lightening and Ashes)

"'Bieganski' is the name of an anti-Semitic Polish character in William Styron's 1979 novel Sophie's Choice. Goska [...]  confronts the stereotypes conveyed in Polak jokes and conflations of them with other East European Christians, e.g., in the 2006 film Borat.* Based on interviews with American Jews on storytelling support of the Biegenski trope; analyses of portrayals of Poles and Jews in American media; prewar and post-Holocaust Jewish thought and literature; the middleman minority theory; and parallels between stigmatized minorities, she examines how Poles and Jews have historically defined themselves as opposites. The author, a Polish Catholic, acknowledges the support of many Jews in addressing this discomforting theme." (Annotation ©2010 Book News Inc. Portland, OR)

"Goska shows that negative Polish stereotypes, unlike negative stereotypes of other national, racial, and ethnic groups, continue to be acceptable…Goska does an admirable job showing negative Polish stereotypes...Other writers must force open widely the door Goska has opened." (Daniel T. Weaver, Upstream Two: A Mohawk Valley Journal)

“Goska makes an important effort to demolish the ‘dumb Polack’ stereotype and the view that Poles are brutish, ignorant, and anti-Semitic by analyzing the image’s origins in Europe and its adoption and perpetuation in US culture. . . . Recommended.” (R. K. Byczkiewicz, Central Connecticut State University CHOICE (February 2011))

The book has been published this year in Polish "Biegański: Stereotyp Polaka bydlaka w stosunkach polsko-żydowskich i amerykańskiej kulturze popularnej" (Danusha V. Goska, publisher Wysoki Zamek, 2016).
Książek, artykułów czy opracowań dotyczących polskiego antysemityzmu publikuje się w Stanach mnóstwo. Antypolonizm, na którym skupia się Goska, to temat, o którym mówi się rzadko albo wcale. [...] Skłonność amerykańskich elit intelektualnych do postrzegania Polaków z perspektywy polish jokes i ich stereotypizacji z wyeksponowaniem antysemityzmu jest przedmiotem szerokiej analizy przeprowadzonej przez autorkę Biegańskiego. To szokująca lektura, która może zmienić nasze myślenie o amerykańskim śnie.
* the comedy figure Borat of course is supposedly from Kazakhstan, which is a little east of "Eastern Europe".

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