Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Polish Taliban


Long laughed at by liberals as just a bunch of anti-Semitic nutters, the group of ultra-catholic nationalists at Radio Maryja have now angered the Vatican. Shame then that the Polish government seems to regard Maryja as its own private news agency.

NCTimes.com reports:

A committee of Polish journalists has condemned a broadcast by an ultra-Roman Catholic radio station for making "very nasty, anti-Semitic" remarks accusing Jews of making a business of Holocaust reparation payments.

The Media Ethics Council, a non-governmental watchdog, on April 4 lambasted remarks made by Stanislaw Michalkiewicz, a commentator for the Catholic station Radio Maryja, who on March 27 condemned international Jewish groups.

Michalkiewicz accused Jews of "trying to force our government to pay extortion money disguised as 'compensation payments"' for property lost during and after World War II, according to a report in the daily Gazeta Wyborcza.

He referred to such restitution attempts by Jewish groups as the "Holocaust business," the newspaper reported.

Of course, there is nothing new in anti-Semites claiming that there is a Holocaust ‘industry’ cooked up by Jews to continue their quest for world domination (snigger!).

But last week, a letter was sent from the Vatican through its nuncio in Poland asking Polish Church authorities to intervene in the activity of Radio Maryja. The Vatican was blunt: stop getting involved in politics.

Radio Maryja was set up in 1991 by Father Tadeusz Rydzyk. It immediately attracted a large following among the extremely alienated part of the Polish population, which fears secular capitalism as much as it hated atheist communism.

The station – listened to by maybe 1.2 million - has grown into a small media empire, which now boasts its own television station, TV Trwam and a daily newspaper, Nasz Dziennik.

The station sees a conspiracy (but of course) between ex-communists and Jews. It also has a problem with gays, foreigners in general and secularism in particular.

The Polish Catholic Church and the Vatican seemed to tolerate this sort of stuff for over a decade. What has changed recently is that the present Polish government, the social conservative Law and Justice, has been giving the station unique and exclusive coverage of news conferences, and the radio’s studios in Torun, northern Poland, are regularly ‘blessed’ by none other than Prime Minister, Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, who gives lengthy interviews to the ‘faithful’.

This has meant that Radio Maryja and the government are now seen to be joined at the hip.

Mainstream media here, which has long complained that Radio Maryja has been given preferential treatment when applying for broadcasting licenses, etc, are now hostile to the government's programme. This in turn makes the government rely more and more on positive coverage from Radio Maryja. and so the self-fulfilling prophecy goes on.

Can we expect the government to act on the Vatican's behalf and crack down on its only friend in the media?

Is the Pope a Buddhist?

Update - 13 April: Radio Maryja apologies for offense over antiSemitic remarks but doesn't sound very convincing.

23 comments:

georgesdelatour said...

I'm sure I'd probably disagree strongly with their opinions about absolutely everything. And their relationship with the government sounds like corruption. The Vatican is, of course, right to say that Radio Marja doesn't speak for them. BUT... I'm remembering the recent MoToons violence. That made me decide that I'm a US First Amendment kind of guy; that if I believe in freedom of speech, I have to defend people's right even to say vile, disgusting, hurtful things.

Anonymous said...

How come Radio Maryja has become so close to PiS? Wasn't it always associated with the ultra-nutters in the LPR?

DBN said...

Rydzyk dumped Giertych during the elections, siding with the stonger PiS.

Idiologically though, RMaryja is closer to LPR. But "business is business"...

beatroot said...

Bu they don't seem that good at business either, in the conventional sense, anyway. PiS are now being forced to investigate how one of Maryja's creeps lost millions on the stock exchange. The money was donated by RM listeners to help save the old solidarity Gdansk shipyard from bankrupcy.

PiS having to distance itself from even that lot...running out of friends alteady.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for clearing that up DBN. It tells us a lot about the LPR that they cannot even hold onto their friends in Radio Mad. Apparently they have also fallen out with their weird friends in the European Parliament.

beatroot said...

PiS seems to have LPR in their sites now. one of the ministers, Dorn I think, was saying yesterday what a bunch of lovely guys League are. The only thing wrong with them is those nasty Giertychs. Presumably they are trying to split League up and try and get more on board like Kusrski. That's the tactic at the moment. They will sign a provisional agreement with Samoobrona today...but will leave everything else until after easter...then till after the Pope's visit...and then after the summer holidays...christmas...

Michael Farris said...

"They will sign a provisional agreement with Samoobrona today...but will leave everything else until after easter...then till after the Pope's visit...and then after the summer holidays...christmas..."

Hey, it beats working.

beatroot said...

The real issue I suppose in all this is that the government seems to have an amazing talent at picking itself some really weird friends.

All very entertaining of course, but the image that it is giving the rest of the world in a very very strnage one. It is also becming increasingly unstable and loony. All the decent ministers are ready to quit (Meller Gilowska, even Sikorski) so we are going to be left with a group of nutters.

Watch the finance markets run for it...and that affects me and you as well...

I blame the liberals...their oppsition to this kind of thing has been pathetic. Hiding under the bed - or just sneering from the sidelines or at their television sets in the evening - wishing it would all just go away is no solution.

Anonymous said...

Yes, good point. Does anybody ever really challenge these people? From the outside Polish politics seems to consist of only PiS, LPR and Samoobrona.

J

beatroot said...

...and the remaining ex-communists (who's political program is actually the most 'social democratic' of all of them. But they still have the stigma of the past hanging over them.

~JS said...

Since when does the Vatican's denouncement of something garner favor with liberals?

Another case of "my enemy's enemy...blahblah."

Strategic instrumentalism, that's what I call it...

georgesdelatour said...

Pope John Paul II condemned Capital Punishment and the Iraq War. On many non-sex issues the Catholic Church takes a left wing position.

beatroot said...

Good point, George.

This is the 'social caholicism' that is very much part of the Polish tradition. You can see it in most of what the west is calling the 'right wing conservatives here. In fact, as I have pointed out often, these are social conservatives with a leftwing economic program. They think in terms of the 'collective' before the individual. The talk about 'social solidarity'. They don't like war, or economic sanctions, and stick up for the underdog. They think unemployment is a sin.

And then they ban abortion and think gays are the devil.

Just like JP II.

georgesdelatour said...

I hear Radio Maryja has made some kind of apology for the anti-semitic remarks of one of its commentators.

beatroot said...

That's right. There was an unsicere apology from the top guy, Rydzy on Maryja....I think they got a call from their mates in the government saying 'cool it! For a while.'

Michael Farris said...

And popular (among RM listener) opinion will be that they were forced by dark hidden powers in a mysterious bureacracy (probably controlled by the Jews!). In other words, this kind of apology will strengthen its anti-Semitic hold on its unfortunate audience.

georgesdelatour said...

Have they said anything against Islam or the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)?

beatroot said...

Good question...will investigate today...answer later....

beatroot said...

OK...can't find anything on Maryja and Islam, but there is this that we did a few weeks ago...

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1593845/posts

georgesdelatour said...

Thanks for that. It feels as if Poland's Muslim community has just been discovered, as if people only just noticed they were there.

It's fascinating, because Poland seems to be one of Europe's most monocultural nations, especially after the 1945 redrawing of boundaries and eviction of Germans. But look a little closer, and there are still these enclaves of difference - Kasubians, Muslims etc

beatroot said...

Exactly. Poland used to be the most 'multienthic' countries in Europe. About 1700 all of the planet was there (Greater Poland etc). Only about 40% were 'catholic'.

But now the myth of 'Pole means slav means catholic' (Poles have this about themselves) has taken over. But it isn;t true (but try telling the nationalists!).

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