Friday, April 17, 2009

Muslim hatred in Poland

“On board a sinking ship there are fifteen Christians and fifteen Turks. In order to save the ship from going to the bottom, half of the crew needs to be thrown overboard. One of the Christians proposes that the whole crew form a circle and every ninth person jump overboard. How should the Christians place themselves so that only the Turks are drowned?”reads a problem, quoted the lay Catholic newspaper Tygodnik Powszechny.

The rather controversial problem appeares in The Mathematical Miniatures for Primary Schools, a manual for second to twelfth grade students who want to participate in the International Mathematical Kangaroo competition. The book was published in 2004 by Aksjomat Publishing House from the northern city of Torun.

I believe "Turks" is a generic word for Muslim.


  1. “We did not try to exhort anyone to hate. What mattered to us was the mathematical model – the historical context was irrelevant. In order to solve the problem one needs to be acquainted with principles Maths, not the ways of murdering Turks,” said co-author and publisher of the manual Piotr Nodzynski..."

    Good grief, this guy actually allowed himself to be quoted? The mathematical model could have been illustrated in a hundred, a thousand different ways. What an idiot. But shame on them all for allowing something like that to be published as a part of an approved textbook!

  2. As reprehensible as this math problem is, what real harm does it do? Has Poland dropped one bomb on the Mideast, or killed one Muslim? I mean what has Poland got to be proud of besides that they think they are better than Turks? Personally, I'd rather be disdained from afar than have the shit bombed out of me with love.

    By the way, this convoluted way they thought of to save the Christians on board can only be matched by the unusual way they screw in light bulbs.

  3. This is representative of their need to feel that they belong to the - "advanced nations." What they are doing is contributing, in their own disgusting way, to plant the ideas of superiority and inferiority in the minds of their children.

    It in many ways is no different than the innuendo in our textbooks of exceptionalism . The massive absence thereof, and the skewed information regarding the heritage of the "black and brown peoples." Mistaking power and exploitation for being "advanced," and seeing our "contribution" to the world as the slavery of those "lower people."

  4. Joe
    It seems to me that you missed one point. Though true, it's unlikely that Poland would drop a bomb on a Muslim/Arab country, it was nevertheless part of the 'Coalition of the willing'! Maybe just a detail, but a telling detail. How much part of their participation was not due to prejudice and views that the Arabs are a group of people the West should attack and invade? I don't know but it's worth contemplating!
    Yesterday I read that article about the Iraqi Jewish music legend in Iraq but who wasn't reckoginised in his new country Israel. What the article says is that many Eastern Europeans Jews, particularly Polish Jews were looking down at the oriental Jews and considering them lesser people! Uneducated, uncivilised and...unwashed!

  5. tgia:

    I understand why the math problem is offensive. But it seems out of place in the age of modern imperialism, and with it's talk of Christian and Turkish sailors lost at sea, it seems to come from the age of Marco Polo, which doesn't reflect well on the state of the Polish intellect. I don't know if you are familiar with Polish jokes, many of which deal with the Polish Navy, but the whole scenario seems like a setup for a Polish joke-maybe when the Polish sailors finally figure out how to arrange themselves in order to fool the Turks, they realize the Turks have already taken the lifeboats and have rowed away.

    But I do agree that is not a good thing that vestiges of medieval prejudice still exist in Poland, but I suspect that Poland's involvement has less to do with that, and more to do with intense diplomatic pressure the United States applied, as well as the promise of some economic favor. Anyway, in today's world, a struggling country that still has a mentality from the 12th Century may not be a thing of beauty to behold. It's time to worry when a world power suddenly decide it wants to help you-especially if you happen to live on top of an ocean of oil. Then it's time to start building bomb shelters.

    I do agree with you that European Jews brought their prejudices with them to the Mideast, and these prejudices are obviously one of the defining characteristics of the Zionist state. But I believe they have more of an imprint of Nineteenth Century European imperialism than Twelfth Century Christian fanaticism.

    My point in short: Polish bigotry: bad, but not the worst problem the Mideast has. Don't lose your focus.

  6. Don't lose your focus.
    I see what you mean joe. It's just that sometimes we have to be careful not to bore the living c..p out of the readers with too much of one thing. I always try to break down the flow with a little bit of science and art.

  7. There's no one more antisemitic than Poles, either.

  8. Molly:

    I was going to say if there were any Jews on board, they would be thrown overboard along with the Turks...But all Poles aren't that way. I personally give anyone a chance, no matter what their background is, to show they aren't an asshole before I make a judgment about them...Besides, with all the problems Poland has, I have to wonder how many of them even think about Turks or Jews.

  9. There's no one more antisemitic than Poles, either.

    Hummm...that's a tough one to determine Molly.

  10. The "Turk" business is probably just left over from their history. Poland was a part of the Commonwealth that fought the forces of the Ottoman Empire and finally defeated them at the Battle of Vienna
    in 1683. This battle effectively stopped the advance of the Turks in Europe. A great hero of the Poles, King Jan III Sobieski, led the Polish-Lithuanian,German and Austrian forces.