Independence Day. A window of 24 hours designated for celebrating that one time those people helped whatever country break free from the big bad county that was throwing shade. For America, this involves a lot of flag bandanas, red SOLO cups and cheeseburgers. And a lot of red, white and blue. For Poland, it is a little different, at least this year.
There was some red and white in Poland over the weekend: red-smoke bombs and a hoard of white nationalists, that is.
60,000 people marched under a message to preserve a “white Poland” in Warsaw, Poland’s capital. Although many participants were regular Poles, many were also from European far-right groups. This was estimated to be one of the biggest gatherings for far-right activists within Europe.
Although more populated than most years, this march was nothing out of the ordinary for recent Polish independence days. In Poland, Independence Day has become synonymous for the center of international far-right groups. However, this occasion is meant for celebration of Poland regaining independence from Russia, Prussia and the Austro-Hungarian empire.
Signs read: “Pray for Islamic Holocaust,” “Pure Poland, white Poland,” “Refugees get out!” and “White Europe of brotherly nations.”
There is nothing brotherly to be seen there, folks. Brothers do not heckle each other. Brothers do not exterminate each other. If this is brotherly in the eyes of Polish white nationalists, that is one dysfunctional family dynamic.
Poland is 96.9 percent ethnically Polish people. 98.2 percent speak Polish and 87.2 percent are Catholic. This does not leave a lot of room for diversity.
A falanga, a symbol from the 1930s for the far-right, decorated signs at the march. Propaganda against same-sex marriage and against Semitism also made appearances at the march.
Sound familiar? This event hits close to home.
“Unite the Right” held a rally in Charlottesville and they did not even need a holiday to do it. Back in August, another riot for the far-right erupted with fatal consequences after a counter riot. Trump’s response to this attack did not cut it for many.
So, what does this say about white nationalism in the United States? In Poland? In the world?
Well, Poland has been inching to the right recently. Poland’s ruling party, the Law and Justice Party, is right-wing nationalist. Considering the ethnic makeup of Poland, this a white nationalist party, it’s just semantics. The party has been said to push the limits of democracy and has a goal to tear apart Polish liberalism.
So how strong is the #Nationalist #Patriotic #Conservative movement in your country? This is how it looks like when a 100 000 of us are marching in #Poland. #Antifa crying.As u can see, nobody is ashamed of our flag.#PolandStronk #MarszNiepodleglosci #PolishIndependenceDay March pic.twitter.com/fd3UJ74Tmf
— BasedPoland (@BasedPoland) November 17, 2017
The Law and Justice Party has taken measures to dismantle the different levels of checks and balances that are in place to ensure a certain standard of democracy. It’s purpose is to insure the country does not revert back to an authoritarian rule like in the Soviet era. Really.
Looked at broadly, some might think that there is some dismantling going on in the U.S. Not at the same level of destroying checks and balances, but there has been some backtracking.
When events like the Polish Independence Day march and the Charlottesville attack surface, it looks like we are all taking one giant step backwards.
Cover image via Renegade Tribune