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New York, N.Y., October 14 2015… It appears the producers of NBC’s Saturday Night Live Show have come to the conclusion that mean-spirited nasty jokes are just what a multi-cultural society like America needs today. This way, one ethnic group can keep insulting other ethnic groups with juvenile humor acceptable to all. And NBC will supply the jokes.
This idea is not without precedent. Germany’s Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler, inspired his nation during World War ll by telling his people Germans were the “master race” while those like the Jews and Slavic people like the Poles were “untermenschen,” the German word for inferior or subhuman.
This Hitlerian concept appears to have struck a responsive chord at NBC. The show took a cheap shot at America’s Polish community recently by offering a silly childish joke bashing Polish people. It likely is already in circulation in America’s classrooms, to the delight of the local bully who appreciates NBC’s generosity in supplying more material he can use to harass his fellow students.
Hitler developed the “master race” and “untermenschen” theory even before he started the war. But America of that time handled his misconception in a way far different than NBC is doing today.
Fortunately, the country found the idea repulsive. It also had a music comedian who responded with a lot more sense than NBC appear s to be doing now.
The comedian was Spike Jones who came up with a song ridiculing Hitler rather than the NBC decision to defame the people for whom Hitler showed such contempt.
Many will remember his song which began with the lyrics, “When the Fuehrer says we is the master race, we heil, heil, right in the Fuehrer’s face.” The song became an instant hit and Americans kept singing it right to the time the war ended. It was their way of expressing their opposition to Nazi hatred.
A well-known photo from those years was a photo the Nazis took during their occupation of Europe. It showed a group of Hitler’s SS officers standing around and laughing as one of them took a pair of scissors and began cutting off the beard of a Jewish man they were holding prisoner. For Jewish males, a beard had a religious significance.
Everyone in the picture was laughing and having a grand time. Everyone except the Jewish victim.
NBC may try to invoke the claim that the Anti-Bigotry Committee of the Polish American Congress is imposing on NBC’s right of free speech by criticizing the TV Giant for this irresponsible display of blatant bigotry.
Maybe so. The early years of American history featured the fight for “Freedom of the Press.” However, enjoying that freedom were only those who owned a printing press.
To: Stephen Burke, President & CEO, NBC Universal
From: Anti-Bigotry Committee, Polish American Congress
Dear Mr. Burke:
The NBC Home Page identifies you as being Irish Catholic. As a member of an ethnic group which became a victim of ugly 19th century bigotry and discrimination when the potato famine forced waves of Irish immigration to the United States, you should have no trouble understanding why we write to you
At a shameful period in American history, the print media in this country launched a cruel and malicious attack against these Irish immigrants. Cartoonists depicted them as monkeys and other primates hanging on to a limb of a jungle tree. Other portrayals were just as reprehensible.
The 10/03 Saturday Night Live Show gave Polish Americans a similar treatment. It presented us as an intellectually inferior segment of American society through a silly and immature joke typically used by a schoolyard bully trying to intimidate a classmate by insulting his or her ancestry.
Caricaturing a people as “inferior” is nothing new to modern-day times. It was very common in World War ll. Hitler and his Nazis declared Jews and Slavic people like the Poles as “inferior.” Perhaps not exactly the way Saturday Night Live did it, but similarities exist, nevertheless. Of course, those who defined who is the “inferior” determined themselves to be the “superiors.”
We would like to request that you review the 10/03 SNL episode. We think you will agree that, as current president and CEO, the legacy you leave at NBC should assure nobody could mistakenly infer you held the personal belief that NBC audiences of the 21st century had the same sense of humor as Hitler’s audiences once did.
Frank Milewski, Chair