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Apr 14, 2024

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Poland’s Independence
March: The True Story

No Nazis but a noisy minority of ultra-rightists and soccer hooligans

By Robert Strybel
Warsaw Correspondent

WARSAW–“60,000 Nazis marched on Warsaw,” wrote Jesse Lehrlich, Hillary Clinton’s former spokesman, on Twitter, and he was wrong on two counts. That throng of people did not march “on” Warsaw from outlying cities, because the parade started and ended in Poland’s capital. Were there any Nazis among the marchers? Rather unlikely! So where did Lehrlich get his skewed information from? He simply glanced through liberal-leftstream media reports which spoke of “fascists” and “far-rightists” and kicked it up a notch.

Most of the 60,000 marchers were ordinary, decent hard-working Poles, good Catholics, young marrieds with children, middle-aged and elderly including war veterans proudly displaying their national colors and celebrating the 99th anniversary of Poland’s rebirth. But today’ media  reporters, news photographers and cameramen know that showing ordinary peaceful marchers is boring and uninteresting, because it is controversy, sensation and scandal that sells newspapers and boosts TV ratings.

So the coverage zeroed in on a small minority of masked marchers, with no more than a few dozen controversial banners calling for such things as a “White Europe” and an “Islamic Holocaust”. There were also a few flags of the prewar ultra-right groups All-Poland Youth and the National Radical Camp. There was quite a number of red flares and torches which cast an eerie glow over nocturnal Warsaw. Enhanced with horror-mongering narrations about neo-Nazis and Fascists, that indeed could have reminded some of the menacing torchlight parades of yesteryear.

Most of the controversial marchers were not ideological nationalists. Support for Poland’s tiny National Movement (Ruch Narodowy=RN) has never even reached 1%, much below the 5% threshold needed to win parliamentary seats. The young toughs were mainly “kibole”, members of an informal subculture of stadium hooligans who regularly engage in punch-ups with the fans of rival teams during and after soccer matches. RN operatives had no trouble winning the support of the none-too-brainy macho-thugs in mass events such as the Independence March.

The now ruling conservative Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość=PiS) S)party years ago made the mistake of befriending the stadium subculture as a political tactic, because the then ruling liberals opposed them. But that loud. brash and unpredictable minority has effectively hijacked the November 11th march. Law and Justice withdrew from the march several years ago, but problems continues. Bringing flares and firecrackers to mass events and hiding behind masks are agaisnt the law, but the police were under orders not to provoke the marchers. If they had tried to restrain the “kibols”, the resultant backlash would have really given the Western media something to write about.

As it is, ever since a government espousing conservative values came to power two years ago, liberal-leftist elites have had a field day attacking Poland. The issues are secondary, because, Poland already has two strikes against it from the word go.  How dare any nation be for God, country, marriage and family?! According to elitist standards, a “normal” person must advocate the Muslim migrant invasion, patchwork “families”, “recreational” drugs, abortion on demand, same-sex “marriage”. gender-neutral public toilets and other “progressive” causes.

Polish President Andrzej Duda does not share those anti-values, but he did sharply  condemn the Independence Day excesses. “The joy of those who came to celebrate a magnificent event was marred by people displaying irresponsible placards.  There is no room in our country for xenophobia, pathological nationalism or anti-Semitism.” He added that he hoped next year’s 100th anniversary of Poland’s re-emergence would be an event all Poles could rally around and celebrate in unity and with dignity. But achieving that goal in so politically polarized a country may prove to be a daunting /if not impossible task.