Sunday, July 19, 2020

The New York Times and Anne Applebaum: The Scary, Bad People Are All on the Right

My book, Bieganski the Brute Polak, and this blog, focus on stereotypes of Poles and other "Bohunks" in Western media. 

My book doesn't have much to say about contemporary Polish politics, and neither does this blog. 

After the recent election, I invited Polish friends to weigh in on my Facebook page. I did not voice an opinion because I do not have a right to an opinion. I live in the US, my Polish language skills are limited, and I don't read reams of material on internal Polish politics everyday. 

Half of my Polish Facebook friends appeared to be pro-Duda. Half of my Polish Facebook friends were anti-Duda. Some sharp words were exchanged. 

Here's the thing: I like both sets of friends. I think they both made good points. I'm in no position to determine which team is righteous in a way that cancels out the other team's righteousness. 

I do live in the US. I know Trump is a personality-disordered con artist and unfit to be president. I don't reject all Trump supporters, though. Some of them are very nice people. When asked, they give what they think are very good reasons for voting for Trump. One quick answer: they see the alternative as Alexandria Ocasio Cortez or Ilhan Omar, Democratic extremists. 

I disagree; the choice was never Trump v. Cortez. Trump supporters could, at any point, including right now, tap a moderate and sane Republican like Mitt Romney or John Kasich. I'd vote for either of those candidates. 

But their larger point is correct. The American left has gone too far left. The Democratic Party is now the party of "Goddamn America," rioting, looting, and tearing down statues of Hans Christian Heg, Ulysses S. Grant, and Abraham Lincoln. I don't like that party,  either. 

Anne Applebaum has come out with a new book, "Twilight of Democracy." The New York Times summarizes it with the subheading, "Why intellectuals support dictators." 

The book makes everything so easy for us. All the bad guys are on the right. Those rural, Christian, patriotic people who support two-parent families and working for a living are all bad and wrong. The gender-fluid urban elites with university degrees, kaffiyeh scarves and eyebrow piercings are all correct and  blameless. 

About the latter group. I remember seeing a post on the "Notes from Poland" facebook page. The page is very anti-Polish. A guy whose picture showed him with long, unkempt hair said that he was so happy that he could now purchase "Muslim sausage" in Warsaw. 

Now. Poland and neighboring Germany are both sausage hotbeds. It's really not that hard to find a wide variety of sausage in Poland. But this enlightened being celebrated because he could now purchase *Muslim* sausage. 

Really, Anne? Really, New York Times? Really, "Muslim sausage" lover? Is it really all that easy? Oh, to be rescued from thought, and from self-reflection, so easily. To be rescued from the information that confronts one when one looks in the mirror. 

What am I talking about? Here's what I'm talking about. The posts preceding this post on this  blog concern powerful African American celebrities voicing the most vile of anti-Semitic propaganda, propaganda that would cheer the black, infernal hearts of Julius Streicher and Joseph Goebbels .

"Hitler was right," one black celebrity said. "Jews control everything." "Jews stole our identity." And on and on.

Where is Anne Applebaum? Where is her shock and outrage? Where is the New York Times? Where are the protests?

If a  Polish, Catholic politician-farmer or politician-priest said what these black celebrities said, it would be on the front page of the New York Times. It would be an international incident. But black celebrities are saying these heinous things, so it's okay. 

From the Times review of Applebaum's new book bemoaning right-wingers destroying Democracy: "Resentment, envy and above all the belief that the ‘system’ is unfair — not just to the country, but to you — these are important sentiments among the nativist ideologues of the Polish right, so much so that it is not easy to pick apart their personal and political motives."

Well, it's good to know that no one on the left feels "resentment, envy, and that life is unfair." Phew. Dodged a bullet, there. 

Applebaum bemoans the loss of a "shared narrative." Interesting. In recent days, left-wingers in the US have been pursuing a cultural genocide, wiping out hundreds of years of American and world history and literature, as commemorated in statues -- Miguel de Cervantes, Tadeusz Kosciuszko, Hans Christian Heg, -- have all been defaced or destroyed. Welcome to year zero. 

Thanks to the left's cultural genocide, an Orwell quote is now popping up repeatedly in comments section under Yahoo news articles: 

"Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street and building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And that process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped."

Applebaum writes, "As polarization increases, the employees of the state are invariably portrayed as having been ‘captured’ by their opponents. It is not an accident that the Law and Justice Party in Poland, the Brexiteers in Britain and the Trump administration in the United States have launched verbal assaults on civil servants and professional diplomats."

So, Duda = Trump = Brexit. 

Nothing like lumping people together. Some would call that arrogant and dismissive. 

Applebaum goes on. She says that right-wingers fantasize a world "where universities teach people to hate their country, where victims are more celebrated than heroes, where older values have been discarded." 

Let me be frank. Part of how Applebaum makes her case is by lying. She bemoans that right wingers fantasize that universities teach people to hate their country. Anne, it's true. Anne, read this. Anne, denying basic truths does not strengthen your case. 

Ya know,  we all hate Hitler and we all hate Nazism. But that hate doesn't prevent anyone from looking at the Versailles Treaty, the Depression, and the rise of the Soviet Union as factors that helped push Germany over the edge. This reassessment of past "benevolent" extremism is so consequential that it inspired the Marshall Plan. Allies defeated Germany in WW I and rubbed Germany's nose in dirt. Allies defeated Germany in WW II and, in spite of Germany's pure evil in WW II, sent Germany buckets of cash.

Anne, Duda and Trump and Brexit are every bit an expression of the left as they are an expression of the right. Sir Isaac Newton had something to say about this. To each action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Don't want the world to go too far right? Don't push it too far left. 

Neither the left nor the right has any monopoly on virtue today. Both have dirty hands. Both need a mirror. You too, Anne. 


  1. Thank you Danusha for this post. I agree with every word you said. It is so sad, that people (on both sides) cannot stand others who think or vote other way. It is heart-breaking to see how my country is falling apart in hatred, verbal and sometimes physical aggression. The more sophisticated person, the more sophisticated hatred and its justification. On both sides. Press and media have each a strong own agenda and do whatever it takes to further polarize our society. Malgorzata

  2. A well-written analysis. Anne Applebaum’s dispatches continue to defy logic and overlook empirical evidence.

    “It is not an accident that the Law and Justice Party in Poland, the Brexiteers in Britain and the Trump administration in the United States have launched verbal assaults on civil servants and professional diplomats.”

    I don’t know about the Law and Justice Party in Poland and the Brexiteers in Britain “launching verbal assaults on civil servants and professional diplomats” but am familiar with Trump’s censures.

    Because of their Russiagate activities and lack of actual evidence, “it is not an accident” that he criticized “civil servants” Comey, Clapper, Brennan, McCabe, Strzok, Page, Yates, Mueller, Weissman, Rosenstein, and others.

  3. I do not know anyhthing about the USA, but the majority of Polish diplomats hate the government of Poland so they should be replaced. I have written tens of letters to the Ministry and Polish diplomats, the majority of them have never been answered. Polish diplomats do not oppose lies spread about Poland. A Polish journalist has recently criticized the Ministry and was responded by the former Minister Waszczykowksi - you have not removed bad diplomats. Journalists do not remove bad diplomats, Mr Waszczykowski. I hope the twitter account is fake.

  4. The Versailles Treaty was the first step. Later the West allowed Germany to rearm, did not help Poland in 1939. France ignored Polish September 1939 experiences, did not creat Polish army in France.

  5. Notes From Poland are co-financed by US Congress. It is biased, anti-governmental. Poland needs serious critics of the governmenty, but not opinions of Polish leftist journalists.


Bieganski the Blog exists to further explore the themes of the book Bieganski the Brute Polak Stereotype, Its Role in Polish-Jewish Relations and American Popular Culture.
These themes include the false and damaging stereotype of Poles as brutes who are uniquely hateful and responsible for atrocity, and this stereotype's use in distorting WW II history and all accounts of atrocity.
This blog welcomes comments from readers that address those themes. Off-topic and anti-Semitic posts are likely to be deleted.
Your comment is more likely to be posted if:
Your comment includes a real first and last name.
Your comment uses Standard English spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
Your comment uses I-statements rather than You-statements.
Your comment states a position based on facts, rather than on ad hominem material.
Your comment includes readily verifiable factual material, rather than speculation that veers wildly away from established facts.
T'he full meaning of your comment is clear to the comment moderator the first time he or she glances over it.
You comment is less likely to be posted if:
You do not include a first and last name.
Your comment is not in Standard English, with enough errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar to make the comment's meaning difficult to discern.
Your comment includes ad hominem statements, or You-statements.
You have previously posted, or attempted to post, in an inappropriate manner.
You keep repeating the same things over and over and over again.