I was surprised to read in an abridged version of Robert Daniels' presidential address (American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies Newsletter, January 1993, referred to in the SR Editorial, April 1993) that the former communist countries' "haste to change, slough off the past (...) may be doing more harm than good." It is hard to understand why Professor Daniels would be so concerned about the efforts of the elected governments in these countries to deal promptly with the economic and social devastation brought about by communist rule.
It is not clear to me either why members of the AAASS should consider it "a special professional challenge" to make a broader community aware of "the conditions and limits of change" and to communicate these concerns to the former communist countries.
It seems to me that our scholarly task is to describe objectively the historical process which is under way as the people of Poland, Hungary, Russia, Ukraine, and other countries try to find their own ways of discarding the past and forging ahead.
Michael J. Mikos, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
I agree wholeheartedly with Thomas A. Gladsky's article on multiculturalism and with the Editorial in the April 1993 issue of the Review.
I wish to comment on several points. First, there can be no doubt that we Poles suffer discrimination. We lack the rights and privileges which other American minorities fought for, and won, for themselves. Polish Americans are reluctant to make demands which they see as placing the good of their community over that of the whole nation.
Concerning the issue of multiculturalism in the university, Professor Gladsky has correctly pointed out that Polish and other east European cultures are not included within that concept. Polish culture, religious tradition and political interests are anathema to those currently promoting multiculturalism on the campus.
As a graduate student of east European background, I am well aware of the fact that many universities neglect the needs of Polish students. The Slavic Departments I am familiar with feel little need to interact with Polish American and other east European communities in this country. Owing to various philosophical, religious and political prejudices, some college administrators show disdain for individual Polish Americans and for the Polish American community.
One problem at our universities is that the emphasis in Slavic studies has been placed on Soviet and post-Soviet studies, with the near exclusion of the most numerous Slavic group in this country (nearly ten million according to the 1992 census): the Poles.
If we consider the behavior of other minorities we may conclude that there are many demands that we Polish Americans can and should make for ourselves and our communities. Foremost among them is the insistence that public colleges and universities make an effort to address the needs of the Polish American and other east European communities. Why is there no attention paid, in Slavic and English departments, to the Polish American writers Professor Gladsky wrote about? Why does academia view our culture as less valuable than that of the vocal minorities?
I think our activities should start with a careful and reasoned answer to these questions, so that we know who are not our allies and why.
As a graduate student soon to be employed by the academia, I ask that, should you choose to publish my letter, my name be withheld.
The author is a graduate student at a major American university.
The editor's response to Professor Jasiewicz's letter in the April 1993 issue of the Review was patronizing, inappropriate, and disrespectful, especially since he had been invited by the editors to respond to the interview with Mr. Michalkiewicz. Your comments on the American idiom were also incorrect. As a native speaker of the language, I can tell you that I read Mr. Michalkiewicz's reference to Walesa in the same way that Professor Jasiewicz did; Mr. Michalkiewicz's language clearly gives the impression that Walesa was President at the time Mazowiecki became Prime Minister. It was entirely appropriate for Professor Jasiewicz to clear up that misunderstanding.
David S. Mason, Butler University
Mr. Jasiewicz's attempt at character assassination against Mr. Michalkiewicz was unprofessional, to say the least. He did not dispute a single statement made by either Mr. Michalkiewicz or myself; instead, he engaged in insinuations, quoting V. I. Lenin to help him make a point. It reminds me of the old adage, "Tell me whom you quote most spontaneously, and I shall tell you who you are."
In a sense, however, I am grateful to Mr. Jasiewicz for sending in his comment aimed at sneering at the right, rather than disputing the right. His letter provides an illustration of how the "politically correct" agenda, which Professor Libor Brom so succintly characterized in his Letter [SR, XIII/2], is inflicted upon public opinion in Poland. To read Mr. Jasiewicz is like reading Gazeta Wyborcza, an influential daily newspaper sympathetic to the Gramsci-like Unia Demokratyczna. Interestingly enough, the ex-Communists show more integrity in that they openly refer to their attachment to the leftist agenda with its concomitant hostility toward Tradition and their adherence to relativism.
Jacek Koronacki, Polish Academy of Science, Warsaw
A great publication!
Henryka Schutta, Madison, Wisconsin