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The Polish American Congress (PAC) is a U.S. umbrella organization of Polish-Americans and Polish-American organizations. Its membership is composed of fraternal, educational, veterans, religious, cultural, social, business, and political organizations, as well as individuals.

As of January 2009, it lists 20 national organizations as members.[1] It is sub-divided into 41 divisions and chapters.[2] Traditionally, the PAC National President has also been the president of the largest Polish American fraternal organization, the Polish National Alliance (PNA).

Donald E. Pienkos noted that PAC is "one of the most important of all Polish American community (or Polonia) organizations".[3] Stanislaus A. Blejwas wrote that it "has been for more than half a century "Polonia's" chief interest group".[4] According to Blejwas, its creation was a "landmark in the history of Polish immigration to America."[5]

HistoryEdit

 
John F. Kennedy attending a PAC Congres in Chicago, 1960.

In response to the threat to Poland's freedom caused by Soviet and German aggression, a large Congress of Polonia met in Buffalo, New York, from May 28 to June 1, 1944. Composed of roughly 2,600 delegates representing Polish and Polish-American organizations, the Congress created the PAC, defining its goal of a free Poland and underscoring its support for the US war effort against the Axis powers.[6][7] The PAC incorporated[8] the two former Polish umbrella organizations in the United States, the moderate[8] Polish American Council founded in 1939 and the right-wing[9] National Committee of Americans of Polish Descent founded in 1941. The other umbrella organization, the left-leaning[8] American Slav Congress, remained independent.[8]

PAC was the first umbrella organization representing a majority of Polish-Americans, previously represented by a wide range of smaller, mostly local organizations.[10] Creation of PAC was enthusiastically welcomed by most of the Polish-American community.[11] Shortly after its creation is boasted 6 million members and followers.[11]

LeadershipEdit

The Congress elected Karol Rozmarek as the first president of the PAC.[6] He was succeeded in 1968 by Aloysius Mazewski, who served until his death in 1988.[6] Under Mazewski, Leonard F. Walentynowicz served as executive director of the PAC for a number of years.[12] Edward Moskal was elected president in 1988, and he, too, served as president for the remainder of his life.[13][14] Its current president is Frank J. Spula.[15]

ActivitiesEdit

PAC has been credited with the unification of the Polish-American community.[16]

International relations lobbyingEdit

One of the principal goals of PAC in its early years was to pressure the US government to support the Polish government in exile, and prevent the communist take-over of Poland. That goal, however, ended in a failure.[17][18] Over the coming decades, PAC would try to educate the American public about the fate of its once war-time ally, and to support a creation of a democratic Polish state.[19][5] Its stance during that time has also been described as strongly anti-communist and anti-Soviet.[5]

After the end of the Cold War, PAC was more successful in lobbying the US government to include Poland in the membership of NATO.[20]

Criticism of anti-Polish racism and bigotryEdit

Outside of its goals related to international politics, PAC second main goal has been to improve the situation of the Polish-American community.[5]

According to Michael Szporer PAC had a reputation of aggressiveness in its critique of perceived anti-Polish sentiment.[21]

In 1969 PAC created the Civic Alertness Commission (Komisji Obrony Imienia Polskiego) to focus on reducing the anti-Polish sentiment and related anti-Polish discrimination in American media and public life. Over the years, the CAC would change its name several times, including to Anti-Defamation Commission (1970) and Anti-Bigotry Committee (1980); at some point in time (around 1989) two similar sub organizations existed at the same time. They organization focused on pointing out racism and bigotry in Polish jokes, and related stereotypes. The Committee supported the US government plan to create the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and policies that made it illegal to tell ethnic jokes in workplaces.[22]

In 1972, PAC demanded equal time to respond to Polish jokes aired on ABC's The Dick Cavett Show. In the show, comedian Bob Einstein filled the role of the president of the imaginary Polish Anti-Defamation League. ABC had guest host Steve Allen apologize but refused equal time to PAC.[23] PAC sued and lost in a case that reached the Supreme Court.[24] PAC also threatened Steve Wozniak, himself of Polish heritage, with a lawsuit for telling Polish jokes.[25][21][26]

In 1997 Frank Milewski of PAC's Anti-Bigotry Committee wrote a letter to The New York Times complaining about the use of "Polack" in an article on light-bulb jokes by Daniel Harris.[27]

In 1998, PAC criticized the Polish Wedding film, writing that "No wedding takes place. It's nothing but a contrived series of silly sexual escapades by a cheating wife and her promiscuous daughter shown as members of a crude and low-class family that Fox Films decided to give a Polish Catholic identity".[28] PAC was concenred that the topics of teen pregnancy and sex outside of wedlock would convey the impression that Polish women are "loose".[29] PAC has also criticized The Drew Carey Show,[30] in particular the character Mimi Bobeck whose "Polishness" was toned down following the complaints.[31]

CriticismEdit

In 1988 PAC was one of the backers of the National Polish American - Jewish American Council, however in 1996 PAC withdrew from the council following objections to the statements of its president Edward Moskal, described by some as antisemitic. In a letter to the Polish president, Moskal attacked "the submissiveness of the Polish authorities with respect to demands raised by Jews" in regards to the return of confiscated Jewish property and an apology for the Kielce pogrom.[32][33][34] Following the incident, Jan Karski, who had also been attacked by PAC following a piece he penned in Trybuna Ludu, resigned from PAC.[21]


See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Joanna Wojdon (2015). White and Red Umbrella: The Polish American Congress in the Cold War Era, 1944-1988. Helena History Press LLC, a division of KKL Publications LLC. ISBN 978-1-943596-00-3.

NotesEdit

  1. ^ "National Member Organizations". Archived from the original on May 14, 2008. Retrieved 11 January 2009.
  2. ^ "Directory of State Divisions". Archived from the original on 1 August 2008. Retrieved 11 January 2009.
  3. ^ Pienkos, Donald E. (1979). "The Polish American Congress: An Appraisal". Polish American Studies. 36 (2): 5–43. ISSN 0032-2806. JSTOR 20148024.
  4. ^ Blejwas, Stanislaus A. (1998). "The Republic of Poland and the Origins of Polish American Congress". Polish American Studies. 55 (1): 23–33. ISSN 0032-2806. JSTOR 20148529.
  5. ^ a b c d Blejwas, Stanislaus A. (1987). ""Equals with Equals": The Polish National Catholic Church and the Founding of the Polish American Congress". Polish American Studies. 44 (2): 5–23. ISSN 0032-2806. JSTOR 20148238.
  6. ^ a b c "MILESTONES IN THE STORY OF THE POLISH AMERICAN CONGRESS The First Fifty Years - Part 1: 1944-1980". Archived from the original on 2009-05-21. Retrieved February 2009. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  7. ^ Pienkos, Donald (2009), Zake, Ieva (ed.), "The Polish American Congress, Polish Americans, and the Politics of Anti-Communism", Anti-Communist Minorities in the U.S.: Political Activism of Ethnic Refugees, Palgrave Macmillan US, pp. 25–41, doi:10.1007/978-0-230-62159-6_2 (inactive 2019-08-19), ISBN 9780230621596
  8. ^ a b c d Bukowczyk, John J. (2006) Polish Americans and Their History University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, p. 142, ISBN 978-0-8229-5960-1
  9. ^ Thernstrom, Stephan (ed.) (1980) Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups Belknap Press of Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, p. 800, ISBN 0-674-37512-2
  10. ^ Blejwas, Stanislaus A. (1998). "Cold War Ethnic Politics: The Polish National Catholic Church, the Polish American Congress, and People's Poland: 1944-1952". Polish American Studies. 55 (2): 5–24. ISSN 0032-2806. JSTOR 20148542.
  11. ^ a b Anna D. Jaroszyńska-Kirchmann (15 October 2004). The Exile Mission: The Polish Political Diaspora and Polish Americans, 1939–1956. Ohio University Press. pp. 65–. ISBN 978-0-8214-4185-5.
  12. ^ Grand Island, NY Deaths 2005
  13. ^ "MILESTONES IN THE STORY OF THE POLISH AMERICAN CONGRESS: The First Fifty Years Part 2: 1981 - 1994". Archived from the original on 2009-05-23. Retrieved February 2009. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  14. ^ "Via Sacria, March 2005" (PDF). Retrieved January 2009. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  15. ^ "National Officers". Polish American Congress. Archived from the original on May 14, 2008. Retrieved 11 January 2009.
  16. ^ Janusz Cisek (28 February 2006). Polish Refugees and the Polish American Immigration and Relief Committee. McFarland. pp. 18–. ISBN 978-0-7864-2294-4.
  17. ^ John.J. Bukowczyk (12 July 2017). A History of the Polish Americans. Taylor & Francis. pp. 297–. ISBN 978-1-351-53520-5.
  18. ^ Lukas, Richard C. (1981). "The Polish American Congress and the Polish Question, 1944-1947". Polish American Studies. 38 (2): 39–53. ISSN 0032-2806. JSTOR 20148078.
  19. ^ Szymczak, Robert (2015). "Cold War Airwaves: The Polish American Congress and the Justice for Poland Campaign". Polish American Studies. 72 (1): 41–59. doi:10.5406/poliamerstud.72.1.0041. ISSN 0032-2806. JSTOR 10.5406/poliamerstud.72.1.0041.
  20. ^ PIENKOS, DONALD E. (1995). "POLAND, THE ISSUE OF NATO EXPANSION AND THE POLISH AMERICAN CONGRESS". The Polish Review. 40 (2): 181–195. ISSN 0032-2970. JSTOR 25778843.
  21. ^ a b c Szporer, Michael (2014). "Jan Karski: Personal Reflections on the Life of a Saint1". The Polish Review. 59 (4): 73–80. doi:10.5406/polishreview.59.4.0073. JSTOR 10.5406/polishreview.59.4.0073.
  22. ^ Kinga Szostak (2016). Na rzecz Polski i Polonii... Działalność Komitetu Narodów Ujarzmionych w Connecticut, Centralnego Biura Kongresu Polonii Amerykańskiej w Chicago oraz Wydziału Stanowego Kongresu Polonii Amerykańskiej w Connecticut w latach 1970-1990. Doctoral thesis. [1]
  23. ^ Press Censorship Newsletter, Issue 1, page 120
  24. ^ [https://scholarship.law.nd.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2631&context=ndlr Wood, Harlington. "Introductory Comment." Notre Dame Law Review 53.3 (1978): 393.
  25. ^ Fire in the Valley: The Birth and Death of the Personal Computer, Michael Swaine & Paul Freiberger
  26. ^ Steve Wozniak Enjoyed Telling Polish Jokes Before Everyone Got Too 'PC', Observer, Jessica Roy, 10 Jan 2012
  27. ^ "How Many Light-Bulb Jokes Does It Take to Chart an Era?". The New York Times. 1997-04-20. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-04-23.
  28. ^ BUKOWCZYK, JOHN J. (2002). "THE BIG LEBOWSKI GOES TO THE POLISH WEDDING: POLISH AMERICANS — HOLLYWOOD STYLE". The Polish Review. 47 (2): 211–230. JSTOR 25779323.
  29. ^ Claire Danes, By Jennifer Ambrose, ECW Press, page 113
  30. ^ Bukowczyk, John J. (1998). "The Image and Self-Image of Polish Americans". Polish American Studies. 55 (2): 75–83. JSTOR 20148545.
  31. ^ Drew life tale, Brian Boyd, Irish Times, 29 August 1998
  32. ^ Holocaust Scholarship: Personal Trajectories and Professional Interpretations, Palgrave Macmillan, chapter by Antony Polonsky, page 28
  33. ^ Polish-American Group's President Accused of Anti-Semitism, AP, Mike Robinson, 15 May 1996
  34. ^ [https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01463370209385643 Drzewiecka, Jolanta A. "Reinventing and contesting identities in constitutive discourses: Between diaspora and its others." Communication Quarterly 50.1 (2002): 1-23.

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