Monday, November 13, 2006

John Tierney's "Polack" Problem

All Of A Sudden It's OK To Hurl Ethnic Slurs On The New York Times Op-Ed Page

The timid church mice that populate The New York Times copy desk are up to their usual no good.
Numerous transgressions have revealed they tread carefully, or not at all, when it comes to the sacred cows at the paper, namely star critics and columnists who are often unchecked regardless if what they write might be inane, obtuse, incoherent, or just plain wrong.
Or borderline bigotry, in the case of John Tierney.
The sort-of conservative columnist used his column Saturday to provide his three cents about Borat.
Not to worry, he laughed in all the right places and he gives appropriate props to Sacha Baron Cohen.
But he couldn’t walk out of the multiplex feeling sorry for the fine people of Kazakhstan, and what all us xenophobes might think of their land.

They’re depicted as rapists and prostitutes, bigots and idiots. I instinctively side with come
dians when the antidefamation police come after them, but in this case I sympathize with the Kazakhs angry at becoming the new global Polack joke. The country has enough problems as is.

Gee, thanks, John for being a First Amendment paragon. But since when did it become OK to put ethnic slurs in an Op-Ed column? Why was it so important for Tierney to straddle his bully pulpit and use “Polack” when he just as easily could have used “Polish?”
Readers could have still given Tierney the knowing glance and validation he was so desperately seeking without having to hurt and alienate an entire ethnic group.

This is not a case of the politically correct police paying a visit to West 43rd St. By any measure, Tierney wouldn’t have gotten away – or so we hope – with using other slurs. Swap out “Polack” with “Wop,” “Kraut” or “Mick.” Even the see-no-evil copy editors probably would have flagged those. Maybe Tierney and the Times view “Polack” as sounding more benign, even playful than the others. But it’s not.
Tierney surely knows that, yet he put the insult in there anyway, almost as if he was daring his editors to take it out. Being of the spineless variety, they declined to take the bait.
Shame on them. And Tierney.

2 comments:

Not surprised said...

I believe that The New York Times as an institution is traditionally anti-Polish in whichever way possible. Many in the Polish Community also believe this based on the following claims. See what you would think.

The New York Times was against the creation of a Polish state in 1918.

The New York Times was against Poland being allowed to join Nato, even after Solidarity and Lech Walesa did so much with so little to bring down communism.

The New York Times ridiculed the Polish Underground Government for alarming the West about the extermination of the Jews of Europe by the German Nazis during World War II and then did nothing to stop the Holocaust. The New York Times, I don't think, ever acknowledged its lack of reaction to the news of the Holocaust nor its resulting culpability in failing to take action to stop it.
The New York Times has had the gall, however, in its articles,and then letters to the Polish community, etc. to insinuate that the Poles, who the Reps of the Times seem to forget, were victims of the Holocaust, of not doing enough to stop the Holocaust. Something similar to a passive onlooker blaming the victim of rape for not doing enough to prevent getting raped while she lies unconscious after getting bludgeoned in the head with a club.

The New York Times has repeatedly used for decades, and still uses, the term Polish Concentration Camps, offensive to Poles, even though the camps were German but located in German occupied Poland, and Poles were victims in the camps. This in spite of the Polish community objecting each time to the use of the term because it is misleading and inaccurate. It appears accuracy is a quality The NY Times does not care about-especially when it comes to Poland.

A recent New York Times book review claimed that Poles drink anti-semitism with their mother's milk, a claim obviously so inflammatory that it is outrageous. Good enough, yet, for the New York Times to print.

The New York Times has praised Uncle Joe Stalin, the mass murderer who killed hundreds of thousands of Poles and brutally imposed communism and occupation on Eastern Europe, with added ruthlessness in Poland because of the resistance to Communism and Soviet imperialism, while the rest of the world celebrated the end of World War II.

The Polish perspective in an article by a Pole in the New York Times? Talk about bias and glass ceilings, the anti-Polish bias at the New York Times in regards to the printing of articles by Poles is so huge the glass is as thick as the walls of Hitler's bunker and no one even bothers to clean the glass to make it less obvious.

The book "Question of Honor" which qualified to be put on the New York Times best seller list was not put on the New York Times best seller list. Why? Perhaps because it listed Poland's major contributions, unknown in this country, to the downfall of German Fascism. Perhaps because it portrayed Poland in a favorable light?

There is much more and we could go on and on. Does John Tierney's "Polack" problem surprise me? Being that I tend to believe all the above, I actually expect this kind of language in the New York Times.

Anonymous said...

I wonder why Mr. Tierney expresses no "anger" at the demeaning and hateful term "Polack" itself?

Would he have been able to sit back and enjoy 2hrs of ethic slurs if they had only been directed at Poles and Polish-Americans instead of Kazaks? I honestly hope that the answer is no but I'm affraid that any person ignorant enough not to recognize that the slur "Polack" is extremely offensive probably would keep laughing heartily.

As far as the the copy editors
"missing" the slur, I take it as a sign that bashing Poles and Polish Americans is deeply embedded in the American culture.