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

February 22, 2017
Mike Whitney
Liberals Beware: Lie Down With Dogs, Get Up With Fleas
John Grant
On Killers and Bullshitters*
Peter Linebaugh
Catherine Despard, Abolitionist
Patrick Cockburn
The Bitter Battle for Mosul
Ted Rall
Sue the Bastards? It’s Harder Than You Think
Yoav Litvin
The Emergence of the Just Jew
Kim Scipes
Strategic Thinking and Organizing Resistance
Norman Pollack
Mar-a-Lago, Ideological Refuge: Berchtesgaden, II
Fred Donner
Nixon and the Chennault Affair: From Vietnam to Watergate
Carl Kandutsch
Podesta vs. Trump
Ike Nahem
To the Memory of Malcolm X: Fifty Years After His Assassination
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s Tough Talk Won’t Fix Chicago
Paul Donnelly
Betsy DeVos and the War on Public Education
Ebony Slaughter-Johnson
The End of an Alliance for Police Reform
Richard Lawless
Wall Street Demanded the Nuclear Option and the Congress Delivered
Liaquat Ali Khan
Yes, Real Donald Trump is a Muslim!
Ryan LaMothe
“Fire” and Free Speech
CounterPunch News Service
Bloody Buffalo Billboards
February 21, 2017
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Finance as Warfare: the IMF Lent to Greece Knowing It Could Never Pay Back Debt
CJ Hopkins
Goose-stepping Our Way Toward Pink Revolution
John Wight
Firestarter: the Unwelcome Return of Tony Blair
Roger Harris
Lenin Wins: Pink Tide Surges in Ecuador…For Now
Shepherd Bliss
Japanese American Internment Remembered, as Trump Rounds Up Immigrants
Boris Kagarlitsky
Trump and the Contradictions of Capitalism
Robert Fisk
The Perils of Trump Addiction
Deepak Tripathi
Theresa May: Walking the Kingdom Down a Dark Alley
Sarah Anderson
To Save Main Street, Tax Wall Street
Howard Lisnoff
Those Who Plan and Enjoy Murder
Franklin Lamb
The Life and Death Struggle of the Children of Syria
Binoy Kampmark
A Tale of Two Realities: Trump and Israel
Kim C. Domenico
Body and Soul: Becoming Men & Women in a Post-Gender Age
Mel Gurtov
Trump, Europe, and Chaos
Stephen Cooper
Steinbeck’s Road Map For Resisting Donald Trump
February 20, 2017
Bruce E. Levine
Humiliation Porn: Trump’s Gift to His Faithful…and Now the Blowback
Melvin Goodman
“Wag the Dog,” Revisited
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima: a Lurking Global Catastrophe?
David Smith-Ferri
Resistance and Resolve in Russia: Memorial HRC
Kenneth Surin
Global India?
Norman Pollack
Fascistization Crashing Down: Driving the Cleaver into Social Welfare
Patrick Cockburn
Trump v. the Media: a Fight to the Death
Susan Babbitt
Shooting Arrows at Heaven: Why is There Debate About Battle Imagery in Health?
Matt Peppe
New York Times Openly Promotes Formal Apartheid Regime By Israel
David Swanson
Understanding Robert E. Lee Supporters
Michael Brenner
The Narcissism of Donald Trump
Martin Billheimer
Capital of Pain
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail