Meanwhile in Cuckooland 101

And so we had Easter, full of ancient traditions. Families across the country went to the churches to have baskets of food blessed by the priests. Since Jarosław Kaczyński is single, the honour of carrying the basket went to his bodyguard. In Pruchnik, locals resurrected an ancient tradition of punishing the Judas for his sins. This made a big fuzz all around the world, and I would say that this is unjust – after all similar traditions, however stupid, can be found all across the world. But I won’t say it this time. Why?

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Of course, it would be unfair to judge centuries-old traditions with today’s standard of political correctness. Yes, one can argue that Judas effigy is made to look like orthodox Jew, but this is just how the folklore portrayed him. Nobody complains that Jesus is portrayed as a European man who looks like 1970’s star of some prog-rock band while in fact, he had to look like a typical dark-skinned man from the Middle East. But the problem with this event lies elsewhere: it has been resurrected not from the love for folklore tradition, but as an outlet to release people’s aggression towards Jews. The fact, that kids were encouraged to beat the dummy with cries “give them some more for their money claims” clearly shows, that the anger is related to recent developments in Polish-Jewish relationship (I plan to write a separate piece on that).

But apart from that, life is going on as usual. Institute of National Remembrance amends famous quote from the book on Nazi atrocities, that call upon the appalling condition of humanity to make it sound as if the author was talking about Germans only, not about humanity in general. In Sosnowiec, someone painted brand new pavements with slogans “All Hail Kaczyński for his child benefit payments!”, Sub-commission for investigating Smoleńsk crash briefly emerged from non-existence and published some new materials, only to have them removed from their website after just a few hours. It’s chief, Antoni Macierewicz, still drive around Warsaw on blue lights, despite officially being just an ordinary MP. Luckily, this time his drivers didn’t smash into anything, unlike those of President Duda – his column smashed mirror in one of the cars passed by them.

Meanwhile President himself also made a strange mistake: he awarded a high medal to a man for saving the Jews to the wrong man, but after the family of the actual hero pointed out, that the order was given simply to the man who bears the same name, he stuck to his guns and claimed, that this order was awarded to the right man for his general activities during the war…

In Wrocław there will be no roundabout on the busy junction, as the space needed for it is being taken by the shrine erected as a thanksgiving to God for construction of the city bypass… Meanwhile, in Eastern Poland a superb raised pedestrian crossing with all bells and whistles has been constructed in the middle of nowhere – it has been added in order to secure funding for the otherwise dull minor road through the fields, as plans including modern safety solutions for pedestrians got priority.

Meanwhile, a government agency related to the Ministry of Agriculture decided to promote Polish vodka in Dubai. To achieve that, they invited to Poland three Instagram “influencers” from this Arabian country and introduced them to Polish cuisine. To their surprise, the girls were not to keen to blog about Polish vodka on their return to their Islamic home country. Who could expect such an outcome?

But maybe they spread the word behind the scenes and those rich sheikhs from Dubai will come to drink vodka in Poland? After all, they would feel pretty comfy here, as academics just published the paper, that yet again shows that Polish tax system is regressive: poor people carry a higher burden, while rich can enjoy pretty relaxed, low taxed life. This is nothing new, as the Polish finances are upside down for a long time, but with PiS throwing money at their voters while lacking funds for basic things the imbalance of the state budget becomes more problematic, while with all those giveaways more and more groups demand government attention (and funding) as well. The situation is so critical, that allegedly the finance minister threatened to quit her job.

In order to divert public attention from those issues, PiS tried to scare the public with Euro currency: Kaczynski even demanded to know, if the opposition parties support introducing Euro in Poland in the nearest future. This narration was quickly extinguished by Donald Tusk with a single tweet in which he pointed out, that only countries with responsible financial policies can even consider joining the Eurozone:

Mercifully, nobody sane wasted even a single tweet to seriously consider an idea put forward by one of PiS experts, who proposed that the European Union should replace Euro with Polish Złoty. Or perhaps they were simply overwhelmed by his argumentation, in which he quoted Pope Benedict, secrets of Fatima and revelations in Gietrzwałd. Last but not least, Europe has Christian roots, and flag of Europe is, in fact, the flag of the Holy Mary, therefore as a Pole, EU Citizen and a Christian he has the right to propose that Poland would share with the rest of Europe the best thing it has and takes control of the European currency from Germany to Warsaw. And so, the idea is not silly, on the contrary, those who say it’s silly are silly themselves. Believe or not, the author of those words, Eryk Łon, is a professor of public finances and a member of the Monetary Policy Council…

Anyway, the discussion about the Euro failed to catch. Defeated, PiS came back to their previous plan: they teamed up with the Church in a big campaign against LGBT. The parliamentary commission on the subject cries, that LGBT education will lead to an increase in the number of gay people and that instead of being tolerated, they should be cured of their gayness. Meanwhile one of the leading bishops during his sermon accused teachers of demoralizing Polish youth: not only they teach them tolerance and promote LGBT issues, but also they dare to go on strike!

And he is right! And not only one to try to turn the people against teachers. The army of internet trolls is working very hard as well. Numerous Twitter accounts copy and pastes the same stories showing them in a bad light. They also succeeded in narration claiming, that teachers are overpaid anyway, as they only work 18 hours per week and have long holidays. The government proposed a deal: we give you pay rise, but you’ll going to work more hours in class, which, in fact, meant, that real hourly wage would drop even further.

But the truth is that most teachers work more than a standard 40 hours week. They are drowning with tons of useless paperwork that takes them hours even before they start preparing lessons and checking classwork. Not to mention, that they have to take their work home, use their private phones, computer and printers and are required to constantly improve their qualifications, also at their own expense. Such thing would be unthinkable even for average minion working for a big corporation, who would expect at least a desk, a computer, a phone and access to a shared printer to be able to do his or her work, yet for public services in Poland it is pretty standard. Earlier in this series, we wrote about that if policemen were to observe the law banning them from using private mobile phones for work, the whole communication network would collapse overnight. They are also forced to buy their own equipment as the one provided by the police is of terrible quality. But at least they have decent uniforms, which is more than soldiers can expect: many of them obtain their own uniform on online auction sites. Of course, it is not that employers don’t care: they try their best. One of the regional directors of the post made an appeal to the public to donate their unused bicycles to his company, so he could issue them to postmen…

Anyway, teachers are still on strike, and there is a serious possibility, that this year’s matura exams will have to be postponed. That would not be the first time – maturas were a month late during school strikes in 1993 (when, incidentally, today’s minister Zalewska was also amongst the strikers), but this time the government has a better idea: they are rushing the new law that will allow school headmasters, and when that would not be possible, local mayors and councils, to qualify pupils for the exams. I think this is a brilliant idea: they should just vote in the new law, that schools don’t need teachers at all, and the problem would be solved once and for good.

And if the students will be allowed to sit the exams, the government already has it sorted: the exams for younger kids were conducted by the random people from government round-up: retired teachers, academics, foresters, prison guards, priests and nuns, scoutmasters, pretty much everyone with some teaching qualifications. Of course, it could not be expected that all of those random people know the procedures, so problems emerge: one of the nuns took a selfie during an exam, proving that she was in possession of a mobile phone, which is illegal. Elsewhere the candidates were forced to take part in prayer as their exam was conducted by two nuns and a priest (that could be actually considered a good lesson of life, nowadays prayers are held even in publicist shows in public TV). By the way, it has emerged that strikebreakers were paid much more than a teacher would earn for doing the same job…

Finally, the government agreed to raise salaries… of prison guards. I am not surprised, it is much more likely that they end up in prison than in primary school…

But all those things did not mean, that events abroad went unnoticed. The fire in Notre Dame cathedral stirred Polish right. Ryszard Czarnecki MEP rushed to inform everyone, that in France people say that Muslims are behind the fire. I would not dismiss it out of hand: in Poland, many people say that Ryszard Czarnecki is an idiot, and it seems that they are right, so there might be something to such hearsay.

The view of the fire as a punishment for turning back on Christianity seems to be a consensus amongst the government and its followers. “Those are results of sick laicisation”, said one PiS MP. “France, that no longer exists, is on fire” seconded her Minister of Enterprise and Technology. “It’s hard to find better proof of the collapse of Christianity in the West”, said deputy Minister of Digitalisation. “It will probably be replaced by yet another Mosque” – said Magdalena Ogórek from TVP. “We need to turn back to God, otherwise we all burn” – cried Tomasz Terlikowski, right-wing publicist.

Generally, the right argues, that the fire of Notre Dame shows the end of Christian values. And if one compares their reactions with those of French Muslims, who called for funds to rebuild it, pointing out that Mary, as Mother of Jesus, who they consider a prophet, is also an important figure in Islam. Iranese Minister of Foreign Affairs expressed his sadness and support for the French and all Catholics. And if we compare reactions of Polish right to those quoted above, or even to the official statement from Church of Satan:

one simply has to agree that reactions to this tragedy show the absolute collapse of Christian values…

…in Poland.

This piece was written for Britské Listy
Photo: Cécile Pallares Brzezinski, CC 4.0 via Wikipedia



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