A few days ago an acquaintance messaged me on facebook intending to warn me since he expected my pure heart to be poisoned by propaganda. He apparently had notices my blindness and described himself as caring enough to point my misled views (again) into the right direction. Trigger for this event was the current European refugee crisis and the fact that I kept sharing articles promoting more solidarity and more cohesion in European refugee and asylum policy.
We had met 4 years ago, he was my Polish neighbour near the astonishing old town of Krakow in a block surrounded by plenty of Catholic Churches. We had been Facebook friends since, but never really shared another word, only sometimes he commented pictures of my activism with words of praise. When it comes to my activity and also to my opinion I am an open book, it is easy to know what I do and what I think if a short research is done. I haven’t heard from that particular person for at least a year and was surprised enough to suddenly find a message in my Facebook inbox. I will not be able to quote his words, because as soon as I had digested the perversion of his message I deleted it and marked it as spam, then I quickly deleted him out of my list of so-called friends.
Since I have lived in Poland, I always had special feelings reserved for this my second home. Most Polish people whom I had met could not understand my euphoria for their country. They failed to see their own and their countries appeal and rather spent their time with ongoing complaints about life and their personal misery. The Poles are not very optimistic and cheerful people. Though, my dear friends from the country are just as happy and outgoing as I am. Those my friends are also open, tolerant and share my sense of an inclusive and supportive European community. Most of my friends are beyond that not very religious which still is a bit of a phenomenon in Poland.
Still, more and more over the last weeks I have become more sceptical with Poland. Obviously, following European News I have been sceptical with all countries and since it suits the mood pretty much with politics in general. But special concern is reserved for Poland, maybe because of my attachment to the country.
But anyways, back to that guy, I’ll name him M., who never happened to be my friend. He always explained himself to be very open, a curious person, interested in people of other countries. He might be curious and interested in people of other countries, as long as the people around him are white, they cook food just like home and as long as those people are “good” Christians just like him. I have put the good in quotes for a very good reason. I am baptized, but I would not consider myself a Christian that would be insincere since I don’t even visit the church for Christmas anymore. Still, I don’t have a problem with Christians, but… here it is. The famous but which use has increased inflationary over the last crises in Europe. People say, everything said before a “but” is a lie, but that is wrong. Someone once said “religion is like a penis. It is okay to have one, you even can be proud of it, but there is no need to pull it out and wave it in other people faces.” This is very true. So here I go: “I don’t have a problem with Christians, but like all human beings I expect them to value human rights and not try to put their religion upon others just like I expect it from all other religious people”. Back to the religion-penis-comparison: In both cases it is as well not a smart idea to think with it and make decisions based on it. Unfortunately, this is exactly what M. did. And since he knew that I am a heretical agnostic or something even worse (in his point of view), he was kind enough to take pity on me and my lost soul.
He sent me a link with very graphic pictures (as soon as my brain had understood what atrocity was shown in the pictures I clicked it away). “This is going to happen in Europe”, he told me. “It is all a trick. There is no explanation why all those refugees flee right now, all at once. It was a carefully developed plan.” Yes, he believed in a conspiracy theory so absurd and so stupid I could almost feel pity with him if he would not be so dangerous in his dumb hatred and fear. Apparently, ISIS sent out the Muslim community to infiltrate the Western community. They were smart enough to start a psychological war: they use the kindness of people in the West for their own good use. “Poland saved Europe for the Islamisation in the 17th Century” (yes, he speaks about the Ottoman Empire here) “and we will save Europe again, and bless you god that you won’t have died until then, taking in all those refugees because it makes you feel good”. The stupidity in this sudden and random message was shocking. Firstly of course the fact how much systematic warfare he believes the ISIS to be capable of doing and then secondly the ignorance, the closed-mindness and the reactionary nationalism in miss message.
Where does all this conspiracy, all this fear and all this hatred come from? There are barely any foreigners living in Poland, some Vietnamese in the outskirts of Warsaw (remains of the socialist cooperation in the 70th and 80th) and some European or Australian migrants in the bigger cities. This explains that many people are not used to foreign faces. But does this excuse extreme behaviour as never-ending protests against refugees and migrants, extremist internet platforms and racist media reports show? In no means!
It is just a bit more than a decade that through the Eastern Enlargement Process also Poland was invited to join the EU, but I am also looking at all other Eastern European countries now. They were longing for democracy, for equality and for security. The fall of the Eastern Block and the Iron Curtain – a truly European Process with several inter-European dynamics and support – opened their way to the West and the accession to the EU could have been understood as the last achievement to join the big group.
Germany has had a view impressive weeks with outstanding solidarity; pictures of welcoming committees for refugees made it into the international press. Still, there is much more to do and I am in no means saying that I can go around and criticize freely only because I am by chance a German. Still, what I observe all over the EU, but especially drastically in the East, are terrible double standards.
Being member of the EU stands for a certain catalogue of values. It were those values a brave opposition fought for in the Eastern countries. And once one accepted them, there is no choose and pick. One cannot pretend to be democratic if they then only support the law to your best, but ignore rather uncomfortable conventions, such as the Geneva convention on refugees from 1951.
“We’ll take Christians, but no Moslems”. Did you ever hear about the pure concept of people; or mankind?
“We don’t want extremists”, say extremely religious Catholics and take it as an impossible affront that the pope dares to ask every convent to take in refugees. Remember the role of the pope? Exactly, that was to represent Christian values / exactly what he does and did. As I said, I am not a Christian, but from what I got from the illustrated children’s bible I read back in the days those values are universal. Remember the 1980th when the pope stood up for you in your oppressed societies? This one goes right onto you, dear Polish fascists. I understand the national trauma, but it is no excuse to turn against people who are now in a situation Polish people were for decades: A situation where staying is no option, for no matter what reason of oppression.
“I will pray for you”, were the last words in the message of that M. (and the only ones properly quoted here), “because you are so young and you don’t deserve to die.”
“Please don’t”, were my thoughts, but I did not bother to reply and instead clicked on his profile and without a second look deleted his profile from my friend’s list. Should I stand up against it, should I tell him how stupid he is? I decided not to. Instead I decided to write down what came to mind after I had read the message twice, with a shake of the head and honestly a bit frightened – not of the refugees of course, but of the angry mob.