FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Xenophobia Without Immigrants: Protesting Darwinian Capitalism in Poland

by

In last autumn’s electoral campaign, the Law and Justice Party (Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc, PiS) took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to stoke up xenophobia. “Look at Sweden or France: there are areas where sharia rules and patrols see that it’s applied! Do you want that sort of thing here?” asked PiS president Jaroslaw Kaczynski in September. At a meeting the following month he even accused migrants of “spreading cholera and parasites”. Aleksandra Rybinska, a journalist on the pro-PiS weekly W Sieci, says: “Poles travel and they can see what migration leads to. Multiculturalism doesn’t work, so they don’t want it here. The previous government had to accept 7,000 migrants. That was more than enough.”

Aziz W, originally from Tunisia, has lived in Warsaw for six years. He works as a cook, speaks Polish, goes drinking with his Polish friends, but still feels rejected by his adoptive home. “It’s really hard,” he told me. “Sideways glances; youths at the bus stop who say: ‘Go home, Muslim terrorist!’ I’ve been attacked several times.”

Mamadou Diouf was born in Senegal and has lived in Poland for over 30 years. “In 2007, I applied for and received Polish nationality. PiS was in power then. I was afraid they’d expel me.” Diouf runs an Africa-related foundation (Afryka.org), takes part in debates and visits schools. “It’s tough fighting against prejudice,” he says. “The words ‘negro’ and murzyn [moor] are commonly used. Every schoolchild knows old novels and poems that are racist. So I explain that human biology is against homogeneity, that ancient Greece and Rome benefited from contact with their neighbours… Really, how can Poles be fascist, given the country’s history, and the size of the Polish diaspora around the world?”

Poland has no experience of multiculturalism: it’s a country without a colonial past, whose borders have changed throughout history and whose troubled history has led to a conflation of Polishness, ethnicity and Catholicism. Poland has some minorities (Germans, Ukrainian, Jewish and Tatar Muslim), but few immigrants from outside Europe: some Vietnamese traders who arrived in the 1970s; around 5,000 Africans; and now migrants accepted in tiny numbers.

Most Poles want to preserve that homogeneity: only 4% believe their country should take in migrants, according to an opinion poll conducted in January by CBOS. The attacks on Paris and the sexual assaults in Cologne may have strengthened this xenophobia. “Germany is going to become an Islamic republic,” a PiS activist spontaneously told me. Anti-Semitic graffiti, fascist Celtic crosses, often drawn by groups of football supporters, are a frequent sight on walls. “Anti-Semitism already existed, although there have been hardly any Jews here since the Holocaust,” says Marta Tycner, an activist from the leftwing Poland Together (Razem) party. “Now we have xenophobia without immigrants.”

Cédric Gouverneur is a journalist.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

March 30, 2017
William R. Polk
What Must be Done in the Time of Trump
Howard Lisnoff
Enough of Russia! There’s an Epidemic of Despair in the US
Ralph Nader
Crash of Trumpcare Opens Door to Full Medicare for All
Carol Polsgrove
Gorsuch and the Power of the Executive: Behind the Congressional Stage, a Legal Drama Unfolds
Michael J. Sainato
Fox News Should Finally Dump Bill O’Reilly
Kenneth Surin
Former NC Governor Pat McCory’s Job Search Not Going Well
Binoy Kampmark
The Price of Liberation: Slaughtering Civilians in Mosul
Bruce Lesnick
Good Morning America!
William Binney and Ray McGovern
The Surveillance State Behind Russia-gate: Will Trump Take on the Spooks?
Jill Richardson
Gutting Climate Protections Won’t Bring Back Coal Jobs
Robert Pillsbury
Maybe It’s Time for Russia to Send Us a Wake-Up Call
Prudence Crowther
Swamp Rats Sue Trump
March 29, 2017
Jeffrey Sommers
Donald Trump and Steve Bannon: Real Threats More Serious Than Fake News Trafficked by Media
David Kowalski
Does Washington Want to Start a New War in the Balkans?
Patrick Cockburn
Bloodbath in West Mosul: Civilians Being Shot by Both ISIS and Iraqi Troops
Ron Forthofer
War and Propaganda
Matthew Stevenson
Letter From Phnom Penh
James Bovard
Peanuts Prove Congress is Incorrigible
Thomas Knapp
Presidential Golf Breaks: Good For America
Binoy Kampmark
Disaster as Joy: Cyclone Debbie Strikes
Peter Tatchell
Human Rights are Animal Rights!
George Wuerthner
Livestock Grazing vs. the Sage Grouse
Jesse Jackson
Trump Should Form a Bipartisan Coalition to Get Real Reforms
Thomas Mountain
Rwanda Indicts French Generals for 1994 Genocide
Clancy Sigal
President of Pain
Andrew Stewart
President Gina Raimondo?
Lawrence Wittner
Can Our Social Institutions Catch Up with Advances in Science and Technology?
March 28, 2017
Mike Whitney
Ending Syria’s Nightmare will Take Pressure From Below 
Mark Kernan
Memory Against Forgetting: the Resonance of Bloody Sunday
John McMurtry
Fake News: the Unravelling of US Empire From Within
Ron Jacobs
Mad Dog, Meet Eris, Queen of Strife
Michael J. Sainato
State Dept. Condemns Attacks on Russian Peaceful Protests, Ignores Those in America
Ted Rall
Five Things the Democrats Could Do to Save Their Party (But Probably Won’t)
Linn Washington Jr.
Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Hiring Practices: Privilege or Prejudice?
Philippe Marlière
Benoît Hamon, the Socialist Presidential Hopeful, is Good News for the French Left
Norman Pollack
Political Cannibalism: Eating America’s Vitals
Bruce Mastron
Obamacare? Trumpcare? Why Not Cubacare?
David Macaray
Hollywood Screen and TV Writers Call for Strike Vote
Christian Sorensen
We’ve Let Capitalism Kill the Planet
Rodolfo Acuna
What We Don’t Want to Know
Binoy Kampmark
The Futility of the Electronics Ban
Andrew Moss
Why ICE Raids Imperil Us All
March 27, 2017
Robert Hunziker
A Record-Setting Climate Going Bonkers
Frank Stricker
Why $15 an Hour Should be the Absolute Minimum Minimum Wage
Melvin Goodman
The Disappearance of Bipartisanship on the Intelligence Committees
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail