Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mourning sickness in Poland

The fire killing 22 - maybe more - people in a sheltered housing building in the north west of Poland over the Easter holiday was tragic and sad. But why have the minute of silences and the state pronounced day of mourning turned into minutes and days?

Nobody knows why fire swept through the building housing families down on their luck on Sunday night/Monday morning, killing 22, including young children. Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who was at the scene early Monday morning, said that there was probably a fundamental fault in construction - which was an interesting observation as the building was constructed in the 1970s.

Twenty two lives lost is tragic - that those lives were some of the most in need of help from society is all the more tragic. And a minute of silence at public events and a day of mourning is not nearly enough to pay respect to the victims and their grieving families. What would be more use, of course, would be more concrete and lasting help for Poland’s poor. That would be a more fitting tribute.

Instead, what we get is President Lech Kaczynski announcing, just hours after the event, that there will not be a day of mourning in Poland but Three Days of Mourning. This means that many public events - even a concert in Warsaw dedicated to the life and memory of John Paul II - will be cancelled until official mourning ends on Friday.

Is Poland joining the current trends in the West, where prolonged public shows of emotion and concern are almost obligatory?

I care, therefore I am?

Editor of the spiked web site, Mick Hume, termed this development ‘mourning sickness’, the key event in the UK being the death of Diana, when the British ‘stiff upper lip’ turned into a quivering bowl of jelly. Where Britain was once a place reticent to show its emotions is now a place where to burst out crying in public - like Chelsea captain John Terry did so memorably after missing a penalty in the European Champion’s League final last year - somehow makes that person more admirable.

Poland is a country that has seen many tragic events, most of which are slightly more significant than missing a penalty against Liverpool. It’s sadness is part of its history. But the inflation of a minute of silence into half hours of silence and a day of mourning into half a week, is puzzling. Being resilient and strong used to be values respected in Poland - instead, what we get, is an officially organised sob-fest.

It also does nothing to combat the real reason why those poor people died at the weekend - poverty and neglect of a public building full of people who nobody much thought about, until now.


jannowak57 said...

“full of people who nobody much cared about, until now.”

Clearly its sad these people died like this. But we didn’t care as a society, how do you read that into this, after all we did put a roof over their heads. It may not have been the presidential suite at the Hilton but it covered the basic need for shelter. This was also pending assignment to better government housing.

As you might note I am not a fan of the cradle to grave welfare state. Poland must be very careful not to go in that direction. A society is best served if failure was made painful, this does not suggest I appose a basic social safety net, which is funded at a responsible level. versus one that cripples economic growth.

The issue here is limited to proper inspection and enforcement of the building regulations as they pertain to fire prevention. If regulations weren’t enforced then someone should be prosecuted.

I believe the average Pole is not unsympathetic to the disaster victims but I think most would view three days of morning as excessive and self-indulgent.


Shit happens

beatroot said...

Shit happens. Indeed. But this official show of emotion and concern of what is a problem caused, no doubt, by public neglect would make even a crocodile ashamed of its tears.

I am no fan of cradle to grave either...I think it disempowers people, actually...but that was not what the post was about.

ge'ez said...

Muskie cried and thereby lost his chance of winning in the primaries against McGovern back in 1972.

Is Kaczynski really crying? Tusk?

Was it public neglect or the neglect of the politicians for whom the public settled?

Are there any notable Polish public crybabies?

Brad Zimmerman said...

When things are so bassackward that the fire department doesn't have a ladder that goes higher than the first floor, ALL you can do is National Days of Mourning. Way cheaper than doing something to prevent tragedies like this (building inspectors, fire inspectors, building "to code", testing fire suppression equipment, etc.) and yet still cheaper than having prepared people with good equipment and skills.

not a leprechaun said...

Given the gravity of the problems, where is the state to take money from the current budget to operationalize prevention and train and equip professionals to deal with disasters???

Should there be new taxes? Other sources for such funds?

Anonymous said...

It 's a pity Beatroot is not among the victims.

ge'ez said...

An even bigger pity, Anon, that you don't have any life. Really, what's it like being a mindless zombie?

Anonymous said...

Shut up mother fucker.

ge'ez said...

When there's no more room in hell, the living dead will troll on blogs.

exterminate_trolls said...

Anonymous are you confused on father's day? Which prostitute was your mother?

beatroot said...

I see the political debate is red hot around these parts. Best thing to do with trolls is ignore them. I will delete any more of this.

Anyway, back to the fire. It seems that there were building irregularities...the fire alarm signals had been removed when the building was changed into a social housing facility. the ifemen turned up with inadequate equipment. The list goes on.

But also...many people have misunderstood these people to be destitutes...simply drunks etc. And the care they have shown over their wellbeing has been limited by this. many of those dead were under 16 years old.

Even Pres Kaczynski tried to emphasise that these people were respectable "deserving" poor.

But don;t the undeserving poor need some sort of decent and safe housing too?

ge'ez said...

Why were the fire alarm signals removed? To save money? Isn't there a law that insists that such devices be installed and maintained and operative in all buildings? That seems so basic. Fines for owners not complying with the law? Is the problem that there are not enough inspectors? Or honest inspectors or what?

And the lack of adequately trained fireman with inadequate equipment?

Are these elemental protections so short-shrifted in Poland in general? Or just for certain societal elements, namely the poor who are poor for whatever reason?

varus said...

I am truly shocked that some were under 16. Not that it is ok for adults to die. but for some inbuilt reason it wosens the shock of it.

I agree wholeheatedly that to over use public ocassions kills them beyond belief. They become jaded and to my reckoning President K has gone to the lowest level of political campaigning. After embarrising himself at Nato by out bidding his own government he had tried to recoup media space by appealing to the common man and his soft heart. This alas shows his ineptitude at politics, as to take such a strategy is by sure the cheapest method but will undoubtedly not hold in the long run.

beatroot said...

Are these elemental protections so short-shrifted in Poland in general? Or just for certain societal elements, namely the poor who are poor for whatever reason?I don;t think health and safety measures are as good in other parts of Europe and the US, for example. And it does lead to the suspicion that the bare minimum was provided for these families.

Going back to the three day mourning. Is it that ruling elites are trying to manufactor a common, national sentiment as they don;lt seem to be able to unite people anyother way?

Lots of people have said that three days is over the top...my point is that that this is a tokenist gesture when they should have shown a little more concern before the event...not after.

ge'ez said...

Yea, of course. But I can't get riled up about a gesture that can be as full or only as empty as people want to make it.

If they want to make it worth their while and the memories of the deceased, there should be some kind of mobilization in support of higher safety standards and their enforcement.

beakerkin said...

The Salonista laments the death of the peasants. What has the Beatroot done for the peasants other than provide gainful employment for the village idiot Geez.

In general anytime there is a large death total via a fire, accident, terrorist act or lunatic shooting spree the political types get involved. Some of this is natural and healthy as perhaps a look at fire codes may be warranted. It becomes unhealthy when it veers into a witch hunt or conspiracy.

The other part is the natural grieving process enjoyed by normal humans. In a normal society human life is valued. Poland is a normal society and the reaction is to be expected.

Anon: While it is true Beatroot is condescending and at times an arrogant boor you should knock off
the physical threats. His Salonista
arrogance and myopia is apparent to
all that read his posts.

You are still hung up on the Simon Mol bit. That story was really not
about race except in your heart and
the heart of the Salonista.

Mol was a criminal who faked an asylum claim and pushed a story Salonistas wanted to hear. He gave them their modern version of the noble savage by catering to their biases. This is not unique and Rigoberta Menchu was better at it.

You are correct to be angry that Beatroot has never deigned a discussion of the rights of citizens to discuss immigration policies a legitimate topic. There are arguments to be made for excluding people with communicable diseases and the converse. Where Beatroot failed miserably was his inability or refusal to discuss it on a policy level.

You are correct to have some anger at Beatroot. That being said he is
not Simon Mol. Nor did Beatroot invite or have anything to do with
allowing him to perpetuate immigration fraud.

beatroot said...

You are correct to be angry that Beatroot has never deigned a discussion of the rights of citizens to discuss immigration policies a legitimate topic.Well, that is nonsense...there have been quite a few posts on the issue of immigration...usually in the context of the UK and Polish migration...and I have always said that I am very much pro migration in principle.

As for the grieving point...of course people need space to grieve...but this post is about ruling elites trying to manufactor grief to be seen to be "doing something" and hoping they can produce an illusive "national experience"... I find the extention and extention of national days of mourning tokenistic and shallow.

That's all.

beakerkin said...


You seem to own the shallow and condescending vantage points. Maybe there has to be a review of fire codes. However, the far left seems to be the home of lunacy as it is the home of most of the 9-11 idiocy.

No you were asked repeatedly by me to discuss the rights of citizenry to exclude people with communicable
diseases. The worst part of it and
probably the reason Anon is so annoyed is you dismissed these concerns as beneath discussion. I may disagree with you on this point
but I understand that there are some legitimate arguments to be made on your side. Reducing those who disagree with you on this issue as racists is arrogant and evasive.

Some of the Mol story was about race. People like anon are consumed by that angle. Yet Salonistas arrogantly refuse to even consider the public safety aspect. Had you deigned to even point out that some of the concerns are legitimate your anon friend would have nothing out of the ordinary to bitch about other than your contempt for the Polish people. Perhaps you should lower your imperious tone while discussing the people you live amongst.

That being said there is no excuse for physical threats of any kind. These are criminal acts and should be punished. Your good friend Hugo sends over goon squads for far less.

Bertie Humbug's Ranto-O-Matic said...

Some tragedies are certainly to be laid fair and square at the feet of poles themselves. Like a serious tendencies to ignore, or be ignorant of, British Traffic law. With extremely serious consequences such as on the M1 this weekend.
Just blogged on this topic actually.

roman said...


You ignoramus! You take a tragic ACCIDENT and turn it into a condemnation of Polish drivers and by inference cast eastern Europeans as somehow deficient? I can come up with hundreds of tragic accidents here in the US involving countless of immigrants from EVERYWHERE (yes, even the UK).
Does that mean that their fellow countrymen somehow should be held culpible for their actions and not allowed to enter the country? No rational person could make this kind of illogical conclusion unless he/she harbors some racial animosity and uses any excuse to proclaim their twisted prejudices.

Bertie Humbug's Ranto-O-Matic said...

Roman I would suggest you avail yourself of the facts before jumping in with both feet.

Take a look at my recent blog post on this subject and maybe you will see where i am coming from?

Flertie Bramblebush's Fish Dicer and Slicer said...

It's the Brits what are responsible for most of the world's ills. We all know that.

beatroot said...

No you were asked repeatedly by me to discuss the rights of citizenry to exclude people with communicable
I hope you mean incurable comminicative deseases...otherwise that would be a rather silly policy, would it not?

Mr Humbug
There is no doubt that many Poles drive like lunatics. They do it every longweekend here in Poland...on average about 45 die in three days of carnage.

But I don;t really think UK can forge a new immigration policy based on driving skills...

Mr Bramblebush

Indeed, you are correct. The Brits even invented cricket!!! The bastards!!!!!!

beakerkin said...

Beatenrootlessly by Beakerkin

A non communicable disease is another story. Yet even there the answer is not clear and there is room for a range of opinions.

In countries with Socialized medicine the costs of some cancer treatments is very high. I certainly would not want to turn away those who need help. However, I understand those who point to limited resources.

The topic of immigration and medical standards is one where there is more grays than black and white.

Your problem was that you hid behind some vile racists critics rather than address the matter at hand.