I need to get out more. I really live in a political bubble. Although I have lots of Polish friends who support the government and their sexist, racist stance, most of the foreigners I know think like me or mostly like me. At least we have bonded by our mutual hatred of Donald Trump. So to stand in a large crowd in Warsaw, listening to Trump give a speech he doesn’t understand, peppered by applause from a crowd who doesn’t understand because they don’t speak English, was both informative and exhausting. The real audience for this speech was the United States where it will be presented to a people who don’t know and don’t care.
The reason I was in this crowd was because I was on my way to the Trump protest. But all the streets were blocked and I couldn’t get there so had to say where I was about 3 blocks away. But I did get to see Trump in his limo.
Poles are a fearful nation. Understandably. Its location was a tragic history of invasion from the East and West and carving up of territory until it disappeared from the map of Europe for 200 years. Granted, mostly because of their own making but it has left a deep scar of paranoia that everyone is out to get them. This translates into the love of the military, weapons, bombs, war, anything to keep the boogie man away, in this case, Russia. It was unnerving to be in a crowd like this. I’ve experienced it on very small, personal scales in my life but these were thousands of people.
So once again, here they were, welcoming another US savior even though the US has fucked them over for over 70 years. They ignored them during WWII. Hell, Roosevelt gave Eastern Europe to Stalin in Teheran in 1943 thus making all the Uprisings, destruction and bloodshed and more than 200,000 deaths a complete waste of lives. During Communism, they sympathized with their plight, urging them to fight back because although they would love to give them visas the government won’t allow it. But they would if they could….So imagine their surprise when after the change in 1989, the US refused to give them visas citing the Polish propensity to work illegally and overstay their visas by 30 years. This is still true today no matter how much they spend on US weapons. Again, it’s of their own making. When the US says Jump, the Poles ask, How high?
But what was with all the applause? Many, if not most of them did not speak English. Even if they did, it would be social English, not this political-speak full of meaningless vocabulary signifying nothing. Hell, Trump barely understood what he was reading. As an ESL teacher, I know when someone is reading something they don’t understand. Trump himself knows next to nothing about the geography or history of Poland, or any other country, for that matter. These lines were undoubtedly prepared for him by the National Security Council and fascistic aides like Stephen Bannon, and the clear purpose of the material was to fan the flames of anti-German and anti-Russian sentiment, both in Poland and more broadly in Europe.
Trump would pause, they would clap. And so on and so on for an hour. Oh, the power of PR. I wanted to give them a pop quiz but I myself wasn’t listening. It was the same bullshit he has been saying over and over again for the past 2 years.
The Confederate flag, however, caught my interest so I wandered over to the two young men holding it.
They looked like cowboys with their hats and I assumed they were Americans. They weren’t. I asked in Polish what the Conferdate flag had to do with Trump.
“It has many meanings.” he answered.
“Name one,” I demanded.
“”It has many meanings.” he repeated.
“So, in other words, you have no idea, right?” I asked. “It stands for racism and if that is your message, why don’t you create one for Poland and not use one connected to the Southern states of America? Nobody here understands it.”
They both stared at me and I wandered off. Interestingly enough, I saw the other guy interviewed on TV later and he spoke fluent English. What he said was full of shit so I guess he was afraid to engage with someone who knows what she is talking about and not afraid to say so. Cowards. And stupid. Still, I was glad to do my part. Confronting ignorance, country by country.
Trump has essentially conned the Polish people “into buying not a car that is parked on the street, but a car that may or may not one day be parked on the street.” Maciej Stasiński of the liberal newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza was similarly critical: “Trump behaved like a cynical dealer in the relics of Polish Messianism, and the PiS masses lapped it up with a degree of delight that betrays their eternal victim complex.”
At the ATM…..
And now for the real news…..