Am-Pol Eagle Article Echoes Nazi Anti-Semitism
By Michael I Niman (originally published in The Buffalo News, October5 6, 1998)
The global media is controlled by some sort of Jewish cabal. Strange Jewish agents loyal to Moscow undermined pre-war Poland while Jewish entertainers poisoned the minds of European youths. Jewish barkeeps hooked Polish peasants on alcohol and stole their land. The stories go on and on. Such World War Two era Nazi propaganda was used to justify the wholesale murder of millions of Jews, Romany, Gays, Catholics etc. Today in the United States all ethnic minorities are victimized by stereotypes. In popular entertainment Arabs and Persians are portrayed as terrorists, African-Americans as criminals and Italians as gangsters. These images poison our very ability to communicate with and understand each other. At the extreme, they can lead to ethnic cleansing.
Two years ago nearly a thousand Western New Yorkers came together to combat such stereotypes. As part of the National Endowment for the Humanities Buffalo Conversations on American Pluralism and Identity, they explored and celebrated both their similarities and differences; they celebrated each otherís cultures and fought the poison of ethnic and racial stereotypes. The Buffalo project became a model for the nation as other cities attempted to follow our lead and build bridges between communities. For a moment we were talking proud.
Now, a mere two years later, picking up a recent (9/17/98) copy of the Cheektowaga based Am-Pol Eagle, I was shocked to find an editorial more fitting to a Nazi occupied Europe of the 1930s, then to Buffalo entering the 21st century. The editorial, entitled "Poles, Jews: Time to set the record straight," begins by explaining that the "world media" was "often Jewish-controlled." In such a Jewish-controlled environment, anti-Semites, it seems, just canít get a fair break.
The author began writing about current controversies surrounding the building of supermarkets and religious monuments at Auschwitz. He quickly segued, however, to what seems to be his main motivation for writing -- to seemingly explain a sort of rationale for anti-Semitism. "Jewish innkeepers," the Am-Pol Eagle piece explains, "got Polish peasants hooked on alcohol by offering them drinks on credit and then took over their farms for unpaid debts." With less detail, the editorial explains that these same innkeepers "used various other ruses to take over the estates of Polish noblemen."
The Am-Pol Eagle piece goes on to allege how "The entire leadership and much of the membership of pre-war Polandís Communist Party comprised agents of Jewish descent loyal to Moscow and out to subvert free Poland." This fifth column, the editorial explains, were aided by "Jewish intellectuals and entertainers [who] tried to poison the minds of young Poles against their Catholic heritage."
Friction between Jews, who the Am-Pol Eagle describes as "steeped in the anti-Gentile teachings of the Talmud," and non-Jewish Poles, was, according to the paper, inevitable. Throughout the editorial, the author refers to Polish Jews simply as "Jews," thus stripping them as Hitlerís troops did six decades earlier, of their Polish nationality. Non-Jewish Poles, however, are referred to simply as Poles.
When the Am-Pol Eagle revives such Nazi propaganda, it is not only a slap in the face to the local Jewish community ó it mocks the memory of the millions of Poles, both Jews and non-Jews, who died at the hands of the Nazis. These sentiments expressed in the Am-Pol Eagle echo those expressed decades ago by the very Nazi sympathizers who turned against their fellow countrymen and neighbors and truly sold Poland out.
The publication of this editorial is especially sad considering the important role the Am-Pol Eagle plays in this community. The Am-Pol Eagle traditionally has served as a wonderful component in Western New Yorkís cultural mosaic ó helping young Polish-Americans maintain their culture and resist assimilation into the sterile consumer culture that is engulfing our country. Among itís writers and editors are some of the most respected names in local politics. Both a State Senator and a member of the State Assembly penned guest columns which appear next to the anti-Semitic editorial. A former Buffalo City Council member serves as an editor while a host of other former Council members serve as columnists and contributors.
The Am-Pol Eagle author ignorantly refers to the Talmud, the Hebrew book of law , as steeped in anti-Gentile teachings. To the contrary, the Talmud states that it is the duty of Jews to protest against injustice, no matter who the victims are. My experiences coordinating the Buffalo Conversations project taught me that members of all of Western New Yorkís ethnic communities share these values and, I hope, are willing to stand forth and be counted whenever the disease of racism or ethnic prejudice rears its ugly head. I am confident that the local Polish-American community will react quickly and strongly in condemning this hate speech and I wish them luck as they struggle to guide the Am-Pol Eagle back on course.
Michael I. Niman of Buffalo is author of "People of the Rainbow; a Nomadic Utopia (University of Tennessee Press) and the former director of the Buffalo Conversations on American Pluralism and Identity.