MediaWatch Threads: 27 / Posts: 1,185
Joined: Aug 30, 2008
Edited by: MediaWatch Jul 2, 2011, 01:16am #11
These stereotypes about poles being dumb originated back in the late 1700s and 1800s when poles began migrating to the US. Most of these Poles were uneducated peasants who couldn't read or write in Polish. When they were asked to write down their names for US officials and couldn't, Americans began to think that all Poles were "dumb."
Who were these Americans that thought that? Other Americans themselves who were of ethnic groups that were being ridiculed??
Perhaps there was some of that stereotype about Poles back in the 1700's and 1800's but it was less relative to other groups coming over for the simple reason there weren't as many Poles coming over as the Irish, Germans, etc.
In those days believe it or not, the earliest Americans (of English ancestry) ridiculed the Germans because they thought the Germans "weren't smart enough" to assimilate into America because of their hard grasp of the English language and American culture.
Then the Irish were ridiculed tremendously by the English-Americans because of their grudge against them. There were newspaper portrayals as Irish being "backward white monkeys" There was a lot of propaganda about "Irish and dogs need not apply".
Then after that Italians were ridiculed as being "W.O.P.s". "With out papers" and other anti-Italian propaganda.
keep in mind, many ethnc groups were ridiculed in the US at one point or another. Such jokes always originated amongst Americans of English descent and the major were directed at catholic groups (ie poles, irish).
This is true.
But what about the surge of anti-Polish slurs that occured about 50 years ago in the US?? Was that due to some surge of Polish immigrants 50 years ago who couldn't assimilate into the US? I doubt it.
My parents and other older Polish Americans told me, when they grew up in the 50's they never heard any of these negative ethnic references about Polish people having inferior intelligence.
Then like a tidal wave, in the late 60's and early 70's, there was this surge of people saying subhuman intelligence jokes about Polish people and the harping on "Dumb Polack this" and "Dumb Polack that", "Meathead dumb Polack", etc. "Meathead dumb Polack" came from the mind of CBS-TV anti-Polish Bigot Norman Lear when he created "All in the Family".
These SPECIFIC Anti-Polish soundbites did not exist in the 1700's and 1800's. Americans in the 60's and 70's were merely imitating the anti-Polish sound bites they saw on TV. This was the root of the all the Polish-bashing that took place afterwards.
The 1960's-70's Hollywood/TV media complex was the main origin of subhuman intelligence jokes about Polish people here. Especially NBC-TV