Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Tim Burton School of Polish-Jewish Relations. By a Guest Author.


Since Danusha's accident will make it hard for her to post for the next little while, Don Freidkin has kindly offered the following guest blog entry.

Don Freidkin is a Texan of Russian- and Georgian-Jewish descent. His great-grandparents migrated from the Black Sea to Anniston, Alabama. His extended family includes director William Friedkin and character actor Joel Friedkin.

Don Freidkin is a writer, producer, and director. He has taught at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, and has managed two Webby award-winning online communities.

Freidkin has been generously and enthusiastically boosting his friend Danusha Goska's writing for over fifteen years. Freidkin's contribution to Bieganski the Blog is below.

***

The Tim Burton School of Polish-Jewish Relations

I am a huge fan of film director Tim Burton. In his 1996 film "Mars Attacks!", Burton created an homage to 1950s science-fiction films. In "Mars Attacks!", President James Dale (Jack Nicholson) makes a moving speech to the Martian ambassador after the invading Martians have destroyed much of human civilization. Nicholson is so impassioned that when he utters the cliché line, "Can't we all just get along?" it seems fresh and new, and moves even the tearful Martian ambassador to offer his hand in friendship.

Except that Burton will not let the screenplay get away with that, so the Martian ambassador's hand turns out to be a murder device that stabs the president through the back.

Burton, the cynical director who manages to force fantasy and reality into an uneasy marriage that somehow works at least until the end credits, may well be right most of the time. But now and again, we humans manage to rise above the muck in which we prefer to wallow, and to do something magnificent.

Now and again has rolled around yet once more, and if we need a clue how to behave, I suggest the text from Matthew 8:22: "let the dead bury their dead."

We've fought the battles of World War II long enough. We've shoveled over the traces of Jewish pogroms in Poland – real or propagandized – long enough. We've bickered and drenched the ground in Israel with blood and argued over ancient history long enough.

What's done is done, and short of taking care never again to allow any of that to happen, let's just, as a species, unilaterally declare that enough is enough, the past is gone, and nothing we can do will change that.

So, "let the dead bury their dead."

Eleven million corpses – Jews, Gypsies, communists, dissidents, Eastern European partisans – are quite enough, thank you. They make that which was once human beings with hopes, dreams, aspirations, hungers, loves and hates, a great reeking pile of meat rotting in the sun, because we will not let them be buried.

And the stench of history is warping our perceptions of who we are and who we could be, so the world we could make for one another to live in with love and joy recedes even further as we become more like the Nazis we loathe and fear.

And the answer, I think, is simplicity itself: "let the dead bury their dead."

Those who know me will be surprised – appalled, perhaps – to see me quoting scripture like some West Texas Bible thumper, but having done it once to bolster my case, I'll do it again; this time Romans 12:19. The apostle Paul, quoting Deuteronomy 32:35, says, "for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, said the Lord."

So what it boils down to is that whatever wrongs may have been done, whatever evil people have visited upon their fellow humans, our only business is to do our best to avoid a repeat performance, especially if we ourselves are in danger of becoming the performers, and let God take care of the rest.

I don't have a direct line to the mind of God, and in fact, I'm none too sure whether there's anyone on the other end of that line, but I'm tired of waiting on God, and I suggest we take it upon ourselves to leave the dirty work to the Lord, who seems to want it, and get on with building a paradise here for all of us.

Building paradise is not only within our grasp, it is in our job description.

So in answer to Burton's question, "Can't we all just get along?" I say, "Damned straight we can."

Enough is enough. Let's just do it.

***

The "Mars Attacks!" scene Don mentions is very good and can be seen here.

19 comments:

  1. I so agree with all your comments Don. Thank you.

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    1. krystyna mew's father was edward herzbaum, a polish jew imprisoned by the soviets

      his excellent book "lost between worlds" is reviewed here:

      http://bieganski-the-blog.blogspot.com/2011/03/edward-herzbaums-lost-between-worlds.html

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  2. Reviewing American experience of the media and the educational/academic establishments, these are huge industries that promote remembering the dead, at least for groups other than Slavs.

    They don't stop, haven't stopped, and are not likely to stop it either.

    While undoubtedly pious, "let the dead bury their dead" cannot be applied, without injury to the disempowered, amidst media and educational establishments that are habitually digging up (let alone burying) the dead -- and that always for some groups, not others.

    Slavic grievances are always depicted as being unwarrantedly tendentious, and fractious, whereas the grievances of other groups, experts at digging up the dead, are portrayed as the Legion of Justice, and through such consistent portrayal, given a free passport toward establishing their identity as unbiased, normative, general models of humanity.

    "let the dead bury their dead" - in such a context, seems not useful at best, deceptive at worst.

    Nemo

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  3. Hello there Don and all - I am impressed that you quote from the Inspired Scriptures Don. They also tell us this, from the perfect inspired definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13. Love "does not keep account of the injury".

    As you note in the blog article, "the world" is pressuring us to go the opposite way - to remember and cherish injuries - and on a selective and Politically Correct basis at that.

    All injuries are equal, but some are more equal than others - as you note Nemo.

    Not one of Stalin's willing executioners has even been brought to trial let alone convicted of anything as far as I am aware, and yet historians are now telling us that the Stalin regime killed at least 7 million Ukrainians before WW2 even began.

    This selective keeping account does bring the double standards into sharper and sharper relief.

    But there is a silver lining far far bigger than the cloud, as what I hope it can do for us is to make it clearer and clearer that everything our Creator, the God of Abraham, has warned us about "the world" is true, and that therefore we will want to be "no part" of it, as He has asked us.

    To personalise this, i am trying to be a footstep follower of Christ and to be "no part" of the world" - not easy, child of Adam, so imperfect, set on selfish (my automatic default), natural born couch potato, find it v v difficult to go door to door talking to strangers, simpler to swim with stream, etc. So what helps to jab me awake, get me off my couch, and out there doing the preaching and teaching work and helps to keep me wanting to be "no part" of the current world system of things?

    First and foremostly its the power of God's word, which we are constantly being taught - but also I am continually being jabbed awake by the horrors of the current world system. And one of those horrors is this ongoing vilification of my father. Have you seen how many Polish "joke" sites are on the net!?

    So here is the wonderful contrast. Jehovah, the God of Abraham, tells me that I am to honour my father - and that, therefore, he is worthy of honour. The world, via its most powerful media and academe, is tell me to denounce and despise him.

    Now I loved my parents very much. So who am I drawn to?

    Its not, as Basil Fawlty would say, a proposition for Wittgenstein.

    This gives me another opportunity to quote some lovely verses from Isaiah.

    “Arise, O woman, shed forth light, for your light has come and upon you the very glory of Jehovah has shone forth.  For, look! darkness itself will cover the earth, and thick gloom the national groups; but upon you Jehovah will shine forth, and upon you his own glory will be seen... “Who are these that come flying just like a cloud, and like doves to their birdhouse holes?" - Isaiah 60:1-8

    So I am zimmering creakily along, a rather elderly dove, but never mind. I am trying to head for home, drawn by the beauty and truth of the teaching from Jehovah. It is a light shining in a very dark place.

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  4. The post is quite beautiful description of some important stuffs. Thanks for beautiful writing.

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  5. beautiful "building paradise is...our job description". bneautioful. Thank you. Arno

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  6. But can we build Paradise Arno? The Hebrew Scriptures warn us that "it does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step." Jeremiah 10:23

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  7. Krystyna, I'm glad you agree, since my brother -- a strong Zionist -- gets angry with me every time the subject comes up. Sometimes, I raise it just to torment him because that's the oldest brother's job.

    Nemo, you raise valid points. But just because the media morons like to stir the pot for fun (if you are Focks Nooz) and profit (if you are all the other media news outlets) is no justification for you or any of the rest of us to carry their wood for them. You are certainly better than the likes of Roger Ayles, Karl Rove, and Ann Coulter; and every time you kick over the traces -- no matter how justified you are in doing so -- they win.

    So to me, the real question is: What do you want? If I were to plunk my magic twanger (a gimmick from a kid's radio show c. 1950, called "Smilin' Ed and His Gang" and not what you may have been thinking) and make you King of the World, what would you do? Which of the tormentors who have been mercilessly cruel and unfair to the Slavic People, would you send to the ovens?

    Or maybe that's too harsh. Maybe you could just break a nose or two, pluck out an eye here and there. Or just get boiled up at them, raise your blood pressure 20 points because of them, risk a stroke and shorten your life span.

    Been there, done that, and believe me, it isn't worth the price.

    So screw 'em. Don't let them get to you. Every time you effectively ignore them, you chip away at their power, and they're too stupid to realize what's happening to them. Life can be too much fun to waste a single second of it on the likes of them.

    Live, Love, and smile a lot. It'll make you happy, and them crazy.

    Sue, I get the impression you've been through the fire and emerged a cleaner, brighter, more loving person for the experience. It is a joy to share reality with you.

    You're welcome, Writing Company and Arno, and thank you for responding.

    In fact, thanks to all of you for your responses.


    Don

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    1. Hello Don,

      Thanks for your concern about my blood pressure. A valid point.

      Regarding the "ignore them", I have actually more or less agreed in past posts on that point, urging Slavic Americans to not respond to the usual defamations with a torrent of letters that are then ignored, which again, is bad for the blood pressure.

      But refusing the oven or bloody nose solutions need not preclude the raising of a consciousness that then is less likely to be manipulated, to its detriment, and manipulated for the benefit or others, to its cost.

      The media, and academia, the major sources of Slavophobia, in various ways make our lives more difficult, and degrade our identity, and encourage others to do the same, and that often as a sign of how "progressive" they are. I think Dr. Goska has noted that silence is death, and she is right in that regard.

      Better than the ovens is to vote against the politicians, and interests of the academia and media shits, vote with our dollars, vote with our feet; decline to contribute to charities, institutions, and other projects of the Slavophobes, or to the cultures whose assumptions so predictably give rise to the Slavophobes.

      One need not break noses.

      Nemo

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  8. Thank you Don for those lovely words. But if they are true, it is only thanks to the God of Abraham, and the Hebrews of old who faithfully recorded and preserved his words.

    And really, isn't what you are saying in line with those words - and isn't "the world" goading us to disobey them?

    "Let anger alone and leave rage; Do not show yourself heated up only to do evil. For evildoers themselves will be cut off, But those hoping in Jehovah are the ones that will possess the earth. And just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more; And you will certainly give attention to his place, and he will not be. But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, And they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace."

    Right here on the earth. Its not just that there will be no more war - a miracle in itself - but there won't even be an unkind word or an unkind thought. And after all, where do all the horrors of war spring from?

    We all have good reason to be angry and heated up, given the last 6,000 years of human history - well given the last 100 years alone. But here is what God asks. Don't. He asks us to trust him. He will deal with it. He will remove all the wicked and the violent from the earth - and all those who stir up trouble for others. And it is for him alone to judge who they are, as he alone can read the heart.

    And I think that these Polish media issues - what I call the Bambi's Mother Agenda, and Danusha calls Bieganski - can both reinforce the warning in the Inspired Scriptures that "the whole world" lies in the power of the one who is called "the father of the lie" - and also show us the perfect way to deal with it.

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  9. That was a clumsy last sentence, as obviously I meant that the Inspired Scriptures teach us the perfect way of dealing with this. We have the shining example of Jesus who when being reviled, did not go reviling in return. Although he also told the truth fearlessly and straightforwardly. I was rushing about yesterday morning getting ready for a trip to the tropical butterflies at Wisley and didn't re-read my post.

    I think one plus for us in all this is that the double standards are getting so blatant that they only need a little light shining on them and they speak for themselves. People do notice.

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  10. Plato noted that the unexamined life is not worth living. Let the dead bury their dead seems an invitation to not do that examination, with a resulting ignorance, and the negative consequences that so closely follow on ignorance most of the time.

    Nemo

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  11. "Better than the ovens is to vote against the politicians, and interests of the academia and media shits, vote with our dollars, vote with our feet; decline to contribute to charities, institutions, and other projects of the Slavophobes, or to the cultures whose assumptions so predictably give rise to the Slavophobes."

    I totally agree with that course of action, as long as it's done with a certain amount of cool detachment. Passionate hate and anger merely raise one's blood pressure, and hurt only the person experiencing those emotions.

    I should have known somebody would dig up that old Greek. He was the student of a suicide who would rather swill hemlock than continue to struggle for his beliefs, and he's lent his name to relationships which seem to me to be devoid of fire and passion. Plato should have considered that if one spends too much time examining one's life, one doesn't have time to actually live it.

    But that's just me.

    Sue, your last sentence was not clumsy, but if I remember my Disney correctly, it was Thumper's mother who said, "If you can't say anything nice, say nothing at all."

    Which just goes to show what excessive carrot consumption can lead to...

    I truly hope there is truth in what you say about double standards. It seems to me that the proponents of them are deliberately pushing the envelope to see just how far they can go, and I'm beginning to wonder if there is a limit.


    Don

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  12. OOOPS! Errata run wild!

    Actually, we were both guilty of living an unexamined life, at least to some extent, as it was not Plato, but Aristotle himself who said:
    "For if I tell you that this would be a disobedience to a divine command, and therefore that I cannot hold my tongue, you will not believe that I am serious; and if I say that the greatest good of a man is daily to converse about virtue, and all that concerning which you hear me examining myself and others, and that the life which is unexamined is not worth living — that you are still less likely to believe."

    He was quoted by Plato, and thus confusion runs rampant about which old dead Greek said what to whom.

    I allow myself to make five mistakes a year. With this one, I've used up my allocation through 2025.


    Don

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  13. Hmm. I am sort of recalling that Plato came before Aristotle, though that was a long time ago.

    Nemo

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  14. You recall correctly, sir. But we are discussing the wrong old dead Greek, as I shall explain anon (I love the word "anon" and bless you for giving me the opportunity to use it in proper context).

    Not that I know this from any direct knowledge, of course, and nobody's too sure of the exact dates as wood-fired computers were notoriously unreliable, but Plato was born sometime between 429 and 423BC with the best guess being 427BC(they counted years backwards back then so it's no wonder they were so screwed up) and died around 347BC.

    Aristotle lived from 384-322BC, and I have no idea why scholars are more certain of his dates that those of Plato, but he did, indeed, come along after Plato.

    However, as I have exhibited a talent for academic sloppiness before, I will live up to it again.

    It was not Aristotle who uttered the quote or downed a hemlock cocktail, it was Socrates, who lived from 470BC (more or less) until 399BC. He was Plato's teacher, and the only reason we have any records of his thoughts are because Plato wrote them down. Either Socrates was a talker, not a writer, or he wrote on non-durable materials, because all we have of what he said was written down by someone else.

    I hope this is all sufficiently obscure and devoid of real meaning that we can now call a truce and leave it alone.

    It's been great fun and I thank you for that, but I'll stop if you will.


    Don

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  15. What we urgently need to be examining is the Inspired Scriptures, both Hebrew and Christian Greek.

    I don't know about Thumper's mother (?) but my own mother did say "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."

    When the Hebrew Scriptures describe the ideal wife, one of her qualities is that she has "the law of loving-kindness" on her tongue.

    So we - us Poles/Polonians - have a real challenge here. We are a group who have been awarded minus status in the PC-Protection Handbook; we are caught in a very tricky Catch 22, whereby if we don't protest the agenda against us that shows it must be true, but if we do protest it, that shows it must be true (as we then become deniers on top of everything else); plus IF we want to please our Creator, we will deal with it while keeping "the law of loving kindness" on our tongue. And I cannot overstate just how important that last point is.

    And as it doesn't rule out straight-talking, I believe it can be done. In fact, I see it as a fascinating challenge in its way.

    Interesting what you say about the proponents of double standards and envelope pushing, Don... it could be that they reckon we are all so dumbed-down now that we won't notice.

    But I am surprised by how many people do.

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  16. Sue,

    This just isn't my year, and senility is doing a dance all over my cerebral cortex.

    First it was Aristotle/Socrates, now Mother Thumper/Father Thumper.

    But either way, that little homily came from the Thumper family. }:-)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGt9jAkWie4

    And here's another Bambi clip, not to prove anything. I offer it up because even five dozen years later, it still charms my socks off.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=54sZ8TFFAmY

    And finally this one, to prove that no matter how optimistic I get, there is no limit to the depravity of some people:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=daNVu_0RsaM


    Don

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