Thursday, June 7, 2007


I’m not talking about the guy who flew around on commercial airlines knowing he had a resistant strain of TB. Im talking about the creeping (or sprinting) infection of fascism. Although not officially identified as yet, there is a disturbing similarity between the methods used by the U.S., Poland, Great Britain, Israel and other governments too numerous to name.

The latest edition of The New York Review (June 28), carries a piece by the well-known writer and Solidarity leader, Adam Michnik, entitled “The Polish Witch-Hunt”. What emerges from his report on efforts under way to identify former informants to the Communist secret police under the regime that ended in 1989, is a chilling echo of methods used in the U.S. Here’s a quote:

“Since their election victory in 2005, the Kaczinskis and their governing coalition have attempted to blur the separation of powers in order to strengthen the executive branch they control ‘ The president, the prime minister (who are twins) and the secretary of justice have attacked the independence of the courts in several ways: by publicly challenging any verdict they don’t like, by showing disrespect for the Constitutional Court, including suggestions that its judges are biased; and by the government’s rhetoric of fear and danger, which serves to justify its increase in criminal penalties and its criminalizing of acts that were previously considered civil offenses.”

The Kaczinski brothers tried to have the eminent historian and former foreign minister, Bronislav Geremek, a political prisoner under the Communist regime, dismissed from his seat in the European Parliament to which he’d been elected in 2004, because he’d refused to sign a declaration that he’d not been a secret police agent during the Communist years.
Shades of M McCarthy!

The obligation for anyone born before August 1972 and occupying professional positions in the private, public and state sectors, to sign the declaration, was pushed through parliament by the right-wing government, in a sweeping purge, known as “lustration” (as in shiny clean). According to Michnik, those who refused to sign, were replaced by unqualified but loyal newcomers. The independence of public radio and television has also been curtailed by changes in personnel instigated by the government and by pressures to control what was published and broadcast. Says Michnik: “The everyday language of politics has become one of confrontation, recrimination and accusations.....These measures have produced a pervasive climate of fear.”

Michnik is confident the Poland of openness and tolerance, of John Paul II and Czeslaw Milosz will prevail. (After repeated government efforts to postpone the session of the Supreme Court and to impeach its judges, the court found the law to be unconstitutional.) But the current crisis over whether the U.S. should place interceptor missiles in Poland, over strong opposition from Russia, does not bode well.

As in many parts of the world, the Polish government has chosen to support the U.S. government over its people. Like the Israeli government that last summer blitz-krieged Lebanon and whose door-busting troops in Gaza and the West Bank are indistinguishable from ours and Britain’s in Iraq, it is part of a growing coalition whose arms are fear and intimidation.

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