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Readers Digest Smears Own Reputation With Ethnic Slur
New York, N.Y. .. “As American as apple pie.” When the Readers Digest began publication generations ago this was the reputation the magazine earned for itself.
It’s no secret print media like the Digest are getting hurt by the new wave of electronic communication. But including an insulting Polish joke to spice up its May issue was not the best way to endear itself to its readers, at least the Polish Americans.
To the Digest’s credit, however, the magazine realized it was a mistake to do it after letters came in from irate readers and after the Anti-Bigotry Committee of the Polish American Congress personally contacted the publication’s New York City office.
The Committee was asked to “accept our apology and we will be more careful in the future.” The Digest said it would also provide an explanation of the matter in the “React” section of the July issue.
As an acknowledged champion of civil rights, its dedicated readers can recall how the Digest directed its spotlight on such long-forgotten subjects like restrictive covenants, medical school quotas for Jewish students and various forms of anti-Semitism or other prejudices.
Against such an honorable background of tolerance and understanding, Polish Americans were surprised by the cheap shot the Digest took at them.
“Sure the joke was funny by itself. But turning it into an ethnic joke was completely unnecessary. It made it just plain nasty,” said Frank Milewski who heads the Anti-Bigotry Committee.
Ironically, the same issue contained an article about an individual who became a hero by saving the lives of two 12-year old boys by jumping into San Francisco Bay and bringing them back to shore. He accomplished all this swimming with one arm and holding them with the other. His name is Nick Tumilowicz, a distinctively Polish name.
It was a true story about a true event. “If The Digest was so interested in our ethnic identity, it should have noted Mr.Tumilowicz was Polish. No such mention was made. It seems everyone there was intent on making their joke a Polish one and bashing us with it,” said Milewski.
– Anti-Bigotry Committee P.A.C. – New York