May 24, 2010, New York, NY — There’s a limit on how much you can insult an ethnic group. Former prisoners of World War II German concentration camps who belong to the Polish American Congress (PAC) felt CBS-TV went beyond it.
What upset them so much was a mean and nasty wisecrack by one of the actors in the CBS series, Two and a half Men who had the line, “You don’t have to tell me twice. I’m not a Polack.”
The PAC’s Anti-Bigotry Committee took up the cause of the angry survivors and presented a statement on their behalf to CBS President Leslie Moonves and also to Sumner Redstone, chairman of the board.
In response, a CBS spokesman contacted the PAC’s anti-bias unit and assured it that the offensive segment will be pulled off the CBS replay schedule.
In its protest statement to CBS, the PAC had characterized the slur as “a gratuitous insertion of nonessential material. We and every other Polish American can interpret it only as an attempt to insult our intelligence.”
The PAC also made it clear that those who felt most insulted were survivors of the German concentration camps and were mistreated there by the SS. They thought CBS was just as racist as the Germans by trying “to depict Polish people as mentally deficient and intellectually inferior.”
During the Holocaust, “Hitler and his Nazis arrogantly classified Jews, Poles, Gypsies and some others as untermenschen, the German word for subhuman. Their tormentors treated them accordingly as ‘Polish swine’ or ‘Jewish vermin.’”
The PAC’s committee emphasized, “it is not appropriate for CBS or anyone else in the entertainment industry to portray any people as inferior. The world cannot forget how Germans once claimed they were a superior people and a master race while, at the same time, declaring Jews and Slavic people like the Poles to be inferior.
“Since both you and Mr. Redstone are Jewish,” the PAC told Mr. Moonves, “we trust we can rely on you not to permit the remnants of this abhorrent and perverse Nazi ideology to worm its way into programs CBS offers.”
After being contacted by CBS spokesman Martin Franks, the chairman of the Anti-Bigotry Committee, Frank Milewski told him that the term “Polack” is just as offensive to Polish Americans as the N-word would be to African Americans. “We refer to it as the P-word,” he said.
Milewski also noted that some of the most effective comedians attribute their success to making fun of themselves instead of someone else. “It would be nice if CBS took that advice and left us Polish Americans alone.”