Meanwhile in Cuckooland 86

Good news everyone! If everything goes well, we will soon have yet another holiday in Poland. The National Day for Commemoration of Steadfast Clergyman have been approved by the lower chamber of the parliament and send up to Senate. It will be a day to celebrate all those priests who fought for freedom of Poland, and rightly so, as people who were exceptional should be celebrated. And surely priests supporting Poland’s freedom go against the flow in the institution their belong, as the church has been known for centuries to be on the side of enemies of Poland – from Catherine the Great through occupants of XIX century to Nazi Germany. The Vatican, for example, was one of the last countries to recognize Polish independence in 1918 but was surprisingly swift to accept German rule over Polish lands in 1939. And yet Poles believe, that church has always Poland’s interest in mind. Would it be a kind of Stockholm Syndrome?

The state, on the other hand, never failed to protect the church. For a few days now we have a new champion in “offending religious feeling” discipline, which, despite it being XXI century already, is still a crime in Poland. Jerzy Urban – a figure hated for being cynic communist government spokesperson during the years of martial law, but also one of the most shrewd and adamant commenters of the Polish political life in recent decades – has been ordered by the court to pay a record fine of 120 000 zł + legal costs. This is three times as much as the prosecution demanded, about 24 times more than a previous record case, and 120 times more than he was ordered to pay in the court of first instance. His crime? A picture of surprised Jesus illustrating the article about worldwide demise of religions.

The state’s support to church in its struggle with social changes intensifies under PiS rule. In Lublin, Pride March, that was organized in that very Catholic part of Poland for the first time, has been banned by the mayor Krzysztof Żuk of Platforma Obywatelska, which was welcomed by the province governor Przemysław Czarnek of PiS (which yet another time proves, that while Platforma tries to pose as a progressive party when it comes to social issues, in fact, there is not that much difference between them and PiS). The court has overturned that decision. This outraged Czarnek, who said, that “he regrets that the court recognizes the rights of the minority”. Yet, the march went on, although the police had to use tear gas and water cannon to disperse a crowd of radical right extremist trying to stop it.

Incidentally, around this time a UN special envoy for the cultural rights visited Poland. She wanted to discuss minority rights, but unfortunately nobody significant was available to meet her. She pointed out the issue of the government not only accepting the hate speech but actively participating in it (she referred to the minister Błaszczak calling March of Equality in Poznań “a Parade of sodomites”). She expressed her worry that in Poland such views becoming acceptable and become part of the public discourse. A government official responsible for equality told her, that by saying that, she “offended the Polish nation”.

But did she? Or is she right? Just recently a prominent anti-abortion activist called Irish prime minister “a deviant” on a live TV, which has been heard even in Ireland. Patryk Kobyłko, a local election candidate from extreme right-wing party “Wolność” in Lublin, pictured above, threatened participants of the march with death. It wasn’t his first time, as in the past he wrote to a lesbian girl “Now, you rainbow scum, I despise you and your person (…) One day you are going to hear about me, I will have my hand covered with the blood of your rainbowy rabble (…) all that lying, sleazy, Bolshevik, rainbowy whoredom one day will be chopped down” and so on, and so forth. Kobyłko since gave up his candidacy.

This is not the only scandal related to the extreme right candidate. In Rzeszów Artur Hippe had to give up his attempts to become a local councillor as well, when it had emerged, that he is well known in his neighbourhood for attempting to pick up under-age girls and sending them indecent messages. Incidentally, while representing different mini-parties, both of them are related to Janusz Korwin-Mikke, a right-winger weirdo and idol of teenagers, who is known for starting new parties and then being kicked out of them as soon, as his followers grow up a little and see what a clown he is. He also had his 5 minutes when during the debate for the Warsaw mayoral elections he said, that when he will become mayor of Warsaw, he will organize marathons, pride marches and “other marches of sodomites and zoophiles” on the railway tracks instead of the streets, so the drivers would not have to be stuck in traffic jams”. He also called the drivers “most oppressed social group”, complained about Warsaw mayor “not allowing them to turn left at the roundabouts” and denied existence of smog, calling it a conspiracy invented to force poor people to abandon heating their houses with coal in favour of gas and electricity, so they pay more taxes.

Luckily, as usual, it is very unlikely that he is going to gain any significant support. The two main candidates are Rafał Trzaskowski of Platforma Obywatelska and Patryk Jaki of PiS. Sadly for Jaki, during that debate, he did not manage to look much smarter than Korwin-Mikke. It was a surprise to nobody, as his electoral campaign so far is one never-ending stream of gaffes, failed PR stunts and empty promises. With lack of any substantive message, his party had to turn to blackmail voters – PiS activists, as well as Jaki himself, suggested, that if Trzaskowski becomes mayor of Warsaw, PiS government might not be willing to fund investments in infrastructure in the capital. After that disaster, Jaki was desperate to show himself as a candidate independent from PiS and during the televised debate presented a signed resignation from membership of his party (not PiS itself, but one of its satellites) and demanded that Trzaskowski resigns from membership in Platforma Obywatelska as well. This turned out to be another own goal, as Trzaskowski used it to suggest that Jaki’s resignation is proof that it is a shame to be a member of the ruling camp. The fact, that after debate Jaki got into a bus with a huge PiS logo plastered on it, only added to the humiliation.

Because, of course, Jaki’s resignation from party membership is worth as much, as that of president Duda who is as independent from PiS as newly elected judges. The new head of National Judiciary Council, for example, says on the matter of EU investigation into PiS “reform” of the judiciary that “they will consult with the government how to react to the eventual ruling of European Tribunals”. In other words: the judges will ask the government if they have to observe the ruling, or if they are to go against it. So much for the division of power.

Meanwhile, it’s not that Polish courts don’t need to be reformed. The mills of justice in Poland are working really slow (with the notable exception of PiS opponents, for example, judge Tuleya, who was put in front of disciplinary commission for criticising PiS’ judiciary reform. He was denied right to have representation). A lot of police workforce have been also thrown at invigilating members of the opposition. Incidentally, in other aspects, the police and the courts seem to be powerless. Like in the case of the subculture of the drivers who organize illegal races on the street of Warsaw putting everyone’s lives at risk (and no, I don’t talk about government drivers this time). One of them felt so sure of himself, that posted a dash-cam recording from one of those races:

Police managed to track him down and took his license away, but this has not stopped him from driving in a similar manner, while openly mocking the police on social media. Four years later he had been found guilty of over 100 traffic offences, including some serious one that can carry a jail term, but it has not changed his behaviour. Recently he had been stopped yet another time driving despite his ban and get summoned to the court, yet he ignores his citations. Meanwhile, he managed to become a celebrity but while he has been idolised by many, most of the Poles are outraged that such a road criminal laughs the justice system in the face. This is why when some of his colleagues (also well known to Polish traffic police) caused a deadly accident while racing on the public road in Slovakia, most of Poles are happy to see, that they have been instantly arrested and will face trial in Slovakia, as apparently everyone believes more in Slovakian court than in Polish one…

Idiot drivers are not the only aspect that makes Polish petrol-head excited. On the wave of new patriotism, various companies emerge that claim to be willing to “rebuild Polish motor industry”. Which would be quite a challenge, if we remember that the only mass-produced car of Polish design since 1939 was Syrena – a car that makes Trabant look like one of the most sophisticated cars of its era. After 1989, Poland was mostly busy with assembling cars designed in the West and countless attempt to reanimate already outdated Maluch and Polonez cars. This was not enough to make Polish patriots proud, and even hating Skoda and mocking Czechs for “selling up to Germans” was doing little to help it. No wonder, that any mention of the new Polish car can make a few hearts beat faster, and various entrepreneurs try to make money on promising new “originally Polish cars”. The saga of Hussarya Arrinera supercar is going on for years and now it has become pretty obvious, that it is just a shell aimed to lure investment. Similarly, a recent presentation of “Nowa Warszawa”, a car that tried to play the nostalgia to the first car manufactured in post-war Poland, ended in scandal when Ford denied manufacturer’s claim that it is going to provide engine and drive train for this vehicle. Now, yet another scandal emerged as the anti-corruption bureau is investigating manufacturer that received a government grant of 4 000 000 zł and promised to deliver a car called “Nowa Syrenka”. Two years after deadline all we have is a primitive construction of a grate welded in a garage covered with plastic shell and driven by Opel Corsa engine… But don’t worry, even if they go down, with the government program of electro-mobility, there will be no shortage of companies willing to compete for the government’s money. For example AK Motor Polska, a company that purchased the rights to the name “Syrena” after failing to bring it back to the market (who could expect, that there will be no people willing to pay a huge sum of money to get Audi TT with the custom body mimicking old Syrena car placed on it if for 30% less one can get an original Audi TT that, unlike AK Motor’s Syrena, is actually road legal) is now promising new incarnation of the Syrena, that will be, in fact, an electric car. I can’t wait to see better quality renders, 1:1 mock-ups and flood of articles by patriotic journalists claiming, that “this time Polish automotive industry is really getting up from its knees”.

But what we can do, those people simply have no technical sense whatsoever. Recently one notable right-wing blogger took seriously someone’s joke and retwitted a picture of Dyson’s air blade hand dryers asking how one pee into those urinals. Luckily PiS MP Krystyna Pawłowicz was keen to help, and she explained to him, that he should not relieve himself to them, as those devices are either washing machines or bag welding machines… I can’t wait to read reports of technical developments in the automotive industry run by the party of the latter written by the former of those two!

This piece was published in Britské listy
Picture of Jesus from NIE used for informative purposes. 
Picture of the young nationalist by Kuba Gawron, used with permission.



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