Foreign Meddling From The NEW YORK TIMES: “Poland’s Nationalism Threatens Europe’s Values, and Cohesion”
From the annals of foreign meddling from the New York Times:
By STEVEN ERLANGER and MARC SANTORA FEB. 20, 2018
SNIADOWO, Poland — … The growing conflict between the original Western member states of the bloc and the newer members in Central and Eastern Europe is the main threat to the cohesion and survival of the European Union. It is not a simple clash, but a multibannered one of identity, history, values, religion and interpretations of democracy and “solidarity.”
… The Polish government, which is dominated by the Law and Justice party, itself dominated from the back rooms by the party chief, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, seems to have its own answer to the question.
It is more than happy to take European Union support, but worries that Poland’s share could come on the chopping block in the future. The country is to get nearly 9 percent of the European Union budget for 2014 to 2020, some 85 billion euros, or $105 billion.
But the vague threats to apply the brakes to the gravy train are unlikely to push the Kaczynski government to change. It has responded to European criticism by accusing Brussels and Germany — so recently Poland’s greatest ally in Europe — of dictating terms to newer members and trying to impose an elitist, secular vision.
It has campaigned on Polish national pride, “getting up off our knees,” portraying the predominantly Roman Catholic Poland, which traditionally sees itself as a victim of history, as the “Christ of nations.”
After being squeezed between empires and occupied in turns by fascism and communism, Poland is ready to take its place as an equal, Mr. Kaczynski asserts, no longer relegated to serfdom or secondary status.
… This combination of Polish nationalism, religious conservatism, anti-elitism and attacks on those supposedly seeking to dictate to Poland about values and migrant quotas has made Law and Justice by far the largest party in a divided country with a disorganized political opposition. …
But more than money, Law and Justice thrives on cultural and identity politics. It has contrasted a conservative, Catholic Poland and its family values with a godless, freethinking, gender-bending Western Europe.
Why oh why can’t Poland be more like Wakanda?
It accuses past governments, the opposition and the urban elites, of hankering after European approval and acceptance to the detriment of Polish interests.
Sniadowo district, a collection of villages northeast of Warsaw with roughly 5,500 people, reflects that support. While the pre-World War II population was about 40 percent Jewish, today it is Kaczynski country. …
“There is a fear among people that Western secularism is a threat to our traditional culture,” he added. “If things in Europe keep going in the same direction, people think that the migration crisis and terrorist attacks could start here, too.’’ …
While firmly in favor of membership, Law and Justice has a vision of the European Union similar to the British one — a union of nation states trading freely with one another but not interfering in domestic politics or national culture.
In contrast, true Europeans know that the European Union exists not for the benefit of Europeans but for Eritreans.