The Piast Institute understands anti-defamation work in a broad and comprehensive way. An important part of our mission is to present an accurate, nuanced and fully rounded picture of Poles and Polish Americans and of their histories and culture in Poland and the New World. This sometimes requires a response to specific inaccurate, biased or malicious characterizations. Our responses are always designed to give correct information in the fullest and fairest context in order to set the record straight and expose overt or hidden biases when they appear. Above all, we seek to make our case truthfully and fairly.
A case in point is the on-line symposium we developed to deal with the issues raised by Jan Tomasz Gross’ recent essay Fear and the reaction it stirred in the American press. The symposium brings together not only our own analyses but also those of a wide variety of other scholars in Europe and America. The symposium can be accessed at www.AnalysisofFear.org.
The best approach to the issue of bias and misinformation is, of course, to present an accurate historical and cultural understanding of the Polish experience in America and Europe on an ongoing basis and to give it as wide a currency as possible. A public with a full picture will be much less likely to give credence to biased and discriminatory presentations. In that sense, we understand all of our research, presentations, exhibits and publications to be an integral part of combating unfavorable and mistaken stereotypes of Poles, Polish Americans and of Poland. We also seek to conduct the operations of the Institute, and the public presence of its projects, in the most generous traditions of Polish history and culture so that the Institute itself is an exemplar of the best of Polish values.
Finally, in our anti-defamation work we always seek the assistance of people of good will from all ethnic groups. Many in the Jewish community have, for example, been forthcoming on helping the Institute to fight negative stereotypes and unfair attacks on Poland. In turn, we understand that bias, bigotry and discrimination against any group destroys the fiber of a community and we are always ready to join with others to fight discrimination, racism and anti-Semitism in keeping with the venerable Polish tradition of seeing a fight by any people against oppression as a Polish fight also. A commitment to tolerance is at the heart of our Polish legacy.