Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The descent of (Ro)man II

Roman Giertych, former education minister and ex-vice PM, is retiring from politics. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry (photo: Roman with what's left of his electorate).

His party, the League of Polish Families, only got a miserable 1.3 percent in Sunday’s election. Will this mean the end of Poland’s curator of 1930s style nationalist politics? Does this mean the end of his type of nationalist politics?

He is going back to his old job and setting up a law firm in Warsaw. Journalists, he said, will ‘get a 20 percent discount.’ Which is nice.

Looking back at all the posts I have devoted to this guy, I don’t know where to start summing up the year and half he has been in Poland’s government.

So I’ll just content myself with reliving a few of his choices quotes and moments.

How about when he drew up a new school reading list – the latest wheeze to come out of the Roman Giertych Education Think Tank (subtle as a ‘tank’, very little ‘think’).

Off the reading list went Gombrowicz, Witkacy, Conrad, Kafka, Goethe, Dostoyevsky...and on the list, lots of books about JP II.

And then there was the assault on evolution (see Descent of (Ro)man).

Or how about his contribution to the Polish language, with the popularizing of the term Homoagitacja – homo-agitation?

He was a little obsessed about gays, was our Roman.

‘The propaganda of homosexuality is reaching ever younger children. In some countries it is even forbidden for children in hospital to talk or read about mommy and daddy, because this allegedly violates minority rights.”

Or how about Roman’s chief henchman, Wojciech Wierzejski, who after recommending that gays should be bludgeoned if they took to the streets of Warsaw, had some deep insights about homosexuality, with which he would like to share:

“Every police officer will confirm that homosexuals are a circle that is nearly 100% identical to the circle of pedophiles. It is a fact that does not require any research.”

What a charmer!

Or remember when Giertych, as education minister, took over the organization of exchange visits of Polish and ...Israeli school kids? Tel Aviv was not pleased.

The Israeli press repeated the well rehearsed view that Giertych know...not really the right person get involved in Polish-Israeli relations.

But President Lech Kaczynski felt he had to defend Roman when on a trip to Israel.

"Giertych is not anti-Semitic, He only grew up in an anti-Semitic tradition. He is the son and grandson of Polish politicians. But recently he has undergone a change [spooky!]. Today he is certainly not anti-Semitic. There is no problem with him. The problem lies in the extremist elements in his party."


But Giertych is amazingly sensitive on this subject. He took the massive step – for him, anyway – of visiting the memorial to the Jedwabne pogrom. In his political tradition this was akin to treason.

On communists? Well, he had quite strong views on the subject.

We must go forward and chop, it's a knife fight! Otherwise we'll lose. If we stop, they will take everything from us. The tradition of bloodshed stands beside us. This is something different from the styrofoam tradition, of those who supposedly fought communism, those from the Workers' Defense Committee and other Trotskyites!

Is his demise the demise of his ‘movement’?

Is there Life After Giertych?

Now that he has stood down as leader of his party, does this make them the League of One Parent Families?

And who am I gonna write about for the next two years?

Still, I can console myself that his even more nutty dad, Maciej, still lurks in the endless corridors of Brussels.


I have just seen that henchman Wierzejski will be the self styled 'face' of the 'New Endecja' - so League look set to remain bunkered down in the nationalist 1930s.


Anonymous said...

Does anyone know anything about the new Education Minister? I believe he was a Philosophy guy from Krakow.

Richie D said...

what is the public (and private) relationship between Roman and his brother, Fr Wojciech, the Pope's personal theologian ??

Tim Harrell said...

re: Giertych

The arabs have a saying: "Though the dog barks, the caravan will pass".

The dog barked.
The caravan passed.

michael farris said...

In retrospect, making Giertych MoE was a stroke of absolute genius ... for the opposition.

As I mentioned elsewhere (and will continue to do) I think more than any single politician in recent Polish history he successfully taught young voters that elections have consequences and totally ignoring elections because you're so-above-it-all is not the wisest course of action.

For that he deserves a medal of some kind (though I'm sure he'd demure since most likely he sincerely thought he was gonna fire up youth with Patriotic! Fervor!)

Tim Harrell said...

Giertych did fire up some of the youth with 'patriot fervour'. Unfortunately, they were the ones from his own party youth league who thought the idea of a fun weekend was to go to a field, drink lots of beer, set up blazing Swastikas and then be filmed giving Nazi salutes alongside(nothing wrong with the first two, mind).

beatroot said...

I am sure that LPR growth of popularity that they had � maybe a stable ten percent for a while) was helped by the fact that the economy was not going so well. 20 percent unemployment, apparent failure of a �left wing� government to get the economy moving. The ex-communists new pose seemed to be a sham. They were just out for themselves. The EU effect hadn�t fed through. The early 1990s boom had reached too few. It was a protest vote at the new political establishment.

It�s a bit different now, what with wages going up fast in many sectors.

The point about Giertych and PiS re-politicizing Poland is correct as far as the �moderate� Pole is concerned. Poles didn�t associate PiS with the boom, they were just embarrassed by the other antics.

But we shouldn�t forget either that if Tusk had swallowed hard and gone into a coalition with Ducks in the first place, Giertych, Lepper would never have been in the cabinet.

Anonymous said...

“Every police officer will confirm that homosexuals are a circle that is nearly 100% identical to the circle of pedophiles. It is a fact that does not require any research.”

That's not exactly what Wierzejski had said though. He did not say that nearly all homosexuals are pedophiles; instead, he said that almost all pedophiles are homosexuals. Which, of course, is not true, either; but that's not my point. I'm just pointing out that, logically speaking, 'All As are Bs' is very different from 'All Bs are As'.

Anonymous said...

Giertych: " is even forbidden for children in hospital to talk
or read about mommy and daddy...".

He has probably heard a misreported excerpt from the "Good LGBT
Practice In the NHS" booklet, published by NHS Scotland, which says:
"When talking to children, consider using 'parents', 'carers' or
'guardians' rather than 'mother' or 'father'"

So children are allowed to use 'mother' or 'father', only the NHS
staff should consider using other terms. BTW, I wonder what Mr
Niesiolowski of PO would say?

Anonymous said...

Why don't you give Roman credit for being one of the only Polish leaders who was against the Iraq war at the beginning? It's easy to be against the Iraq war now. Tusk supported the Iraq war then.

Anonymous said...

Good question Richie D. I didn't even know about Wojciech and his current position. And he's not even in the English Wikipedia despite having such a prominent position. Was Roman born in London as Wojciech was? I do know that Roman is an Opus Dei supernumerary.

Here's something Wojciech's written if anybody wants to check it out:

IF you really want to pursue this, Richie D., and I hope you do, I suggest you contact the National Catholic Reporter's Rome Correspondant John Allen. His email address in

sonia said...

Why don't you give Roman credit for being one of the only Polish leaders who was against the Iraq war at the beginning?

Because that would have been just too much. Even Beatroot doesn't kick people who are already down.

It's bad enough that Giertych was a homophobe who read JPII and visited Jedwabne under pressure. To learn that he also supported Saddam Hussein and his genocide of Kurds and Shiites, would have probably been too much...

Anonymous said...

Oh shit. Wojciech is a Dominican who serves or used to serve on the faculty at the Dominican Seminary in Krakow. And guess where the Weigel, Neuhaus, Novak axis meets every year in Krakow?

Check out:

beatroot said...

what is the public (and private) relationship between Roman and his brother, Fr Wojciech, the Pope's personal theologian ??

Wojciech is not the brother of Roman he is the younger brother of Maciej, so he is Roman’s uncle.

beatroot said...

As far as the being against the was in Iraq – well, yes, he was against it from the start. I remember being on the anti-war march here in the February before the war started. There was me and three friends, a few anarchists with dogs in bits of string (there must be a central international casting agency where they hire these dogs from) and then there was the grannies from the Radio Maryja camp – who Donald Tusk labeled the mohair berets.. That was the anti-war movement in Poland. And yeah, there has been a few Jonny Come Latelys...or should I say, Donald Come Lately.

varus said...

What about the affect of LPR and Samobrona's demise on small parties? Have Polaish voters decided that only the big boy's count and we will see an ever dwindling number of parties in future elections? Psl and LiD have an established history, even if under a different guise, but could a new kid on the block stand a chance now after what happened to the 'LiS' consortium?

beatroot said...

So the Krakow education sec looks like its Jarosław Gowin. Loyal Rokita-ite, not necessarily from the Tusk wing of the party. My collegue works for him at the university and likes him. Seems to be good choice as far as education goes.

luridtraversal said...

"And who am I gonna write about for the next two years?"

I don't think you'll have a problem coming up with politicians to write about for the next 2 years. Especially if the Ducks keep speaking in public!!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarification, BR, on the brother-uncle mix-up. Still, the possible relationship is potentially scarey. Do your contacts Luxmoore-wise know anything about it? I'd really appreciate it if you find the time to follow it up.

And how did the Dux wind up picking a decent education minister, if that is the case? And why pick a Rokita-ite? To pick him off???

beatroot said...

Yeah, this Wojciech character is interesting. But those dominicans down in Krakow have always seemed quite reasonable to me.

As far as Gowin goes. It looks like he will be picked as education minister (in Dziennik this morning) by Tusk. Gowin was the guy in Krakow who Rokita (who is from Krakow) insisted be on the PO voting list with him when they stood for election for Krakow constituency. The original list contained all of the young Tusk-ites down there and none from Rokita's more conservative wing of PO. So Rokita had a hiisy fit and got Gowin put second of the list to him. Then Rokita resigns (as his wife just joined PiS) and Gowin became top of the PO list. Gowin actually got less votes than Ziobro (scary justice minister from PiS) in Krakow but is still in parliament under the PR system here.

So Gowin, a Krakow conservative academic may be education minister.

the end.

Anonymous said...

About those reasonable Dominicans...

Some of them host US Catholic neo-cons Weigel, Novak and Neuhauss every year:

Unknown said...

I know..maybe it's the jesuits....

Anonymous said...

beatroot said...” we shouldn’t forget either that if Tusk had swallowed hard and gone into a coalition with Ducks in the first place, Giertych, Lepper would never have been in the cabinet.”

Tusk couldn’t do this, as it would have required the abandonment of his liberal economics agenda.
Something the ducks didn’t believe.

Their decision to get into bed with Giertych and Lepper was a political catastrophe for them. They must have realized how essential it was for their political survival to broaden their base of support and by getting together with the lunatic fringe any option to moderate their policies was gone.

Giertych represented a political response to conditions that existed in Poland during the 1930s and even in the difficult days 1990’s those condition were never replicated. He was doomed by economic progress and demographics.

But what did people vote for? Mr. Tusk got the approval of 23% of the eligible voters. A good turn out for Polish voters but not a landslide. What portion of these people voted because they “were just embarrassed by the antics” and what portion actually will support liberal economic reforms?
Mr. Tusk has stated that Poland needs an economic miracle like that of Ireland and he is going to deliver on it. Sound bite for the cameras or is he serious? If he is serious then expect political combat on a scale that will make the period of the Ducks look tranquil.

michael farris said...

I think people voted for a nice quiet anonymous government that isn't always involved in embarassing, unnecessary squabbles.

I don't think that's exactly what they'll get, but the Kaczynskis' "all confrontation all the time" shtick got real old, real fast.

The statement on the number of eligible voters that actually voted for the candidate(s) is just as valid for PiS two years ago. They barely squeaked by (mostly due to low turnout) and then start acting like they have a freaking mandate to be the country's conscience and retro-active terminators.

beatroot said...

If you win an election then you have a mandate, Mike. In the US, a president has the vote of maybe 26 percent of the electorate. But they have a mandate.

Jan: I appreciate that Tusk would have had to give up much of his liberal economics, but in a sense, that is what the voters decided. No clear go ahead for any party, so some compromise. But neither compromised. Enter Lepper and Giertych. When the middle gets muddled then ...

If he is serious then expect political combat on a scale that will make the period of the Ducks look tranquil.

And here the PSL will think that they can put a break on too much free market stuff. But what if PO get their way? Then we will see cuts in taxes. Unless the economy grows by significantly more than it is now – unlikely and dependant on good growth in the rest of Europe (where growth looks like it will slow down in the next two years) then there will have to be significant cuts in public spending, welfare state, fixed incomes, and growth in wages of those in state sector.

That is a recipe for massive conflict.

So, a quiet, apolitical life? Nope, Poland could be in for spectacular upheavals.

Anonymous said...

Gowin actually got less votes than Ziobro (scary justice minister from PiS) in Krakow but is still in parliament under the PR system here.

Ahem. The system is that the votes for all candidates in a given party are summed up. What happened in Kraków was that PO got 47.35% of votes and PiS got 34.43%. Which translates to PO getting more people into the parliament than PiS.

At the same time, Ziobro personally got 4K more votes than Gowin, but this is of no importance since again, this is the sum that counts.

So PO won as a team, and Ziobro won individually. And this is a team sport.

beatroot said...

yes, Opamp, that is the PR syatem here. Ahem. I was explaining it to an American, to which the PR system is about as familiar as ....well, an unfamiliar thing.

michael farris said...

"If you win an election then you have a mandate."

In older American usage, politicians usually didn't talk about 'mandates' unless they scored pretty decisive victories. This has changed in recent years but that's the usage I was basing my comment on, and mandates are not usually interpreted to cover issues the candidates weren't especially running on.

Anonymous said...

Sonia said, To learn that he also supported Saddam Hussein and his genocide of Kurds and Shiites, would have probably been too much...
Sonia, I guess it's Ok for you Polish soldiers getting killed in Iraq for nothing.

sonia said...


Polish soldiers getting killed in Iraq for nothing

Oil isn't "nothing". Next time, try to fill your tank with "nothing" and see how far your car will go...

Frank Partisan said...

Seriously your blog needs Giertych back.

michael farris said...

Less and less grist for the mill, mlodziez wszechpolska will be no more:,11,item.html

Anonymous said...

Well, at least Sonia is honest about what the war is about: our oil under their sand.

varus said...

Geez wrote:

Well, at least Sonia is honest about what the war is about: our oil under their sand.

The problem is the 'our' was initially thought to include Poland, but it seems SLD were mistaken. Poland has received few benefits from the war.

Anonymous said...

I was explaining it to an American, to which the PR system is about as familiar as ....well, an unfamiliar thing.

Actually this example shows that this system makes no sense. We should switch to majority voting: the guy with most votes gets in, period.

Anonymous said...

Opamp wrote: We should switch to majority voting: the guy with most votes gets in, period.

That's not the way it works in the US, either, Ask Al Gore.

And Varus, I was writing as an American. You're not suggesting "we" are taking advantage of youse guys, are you? Seems to me you should be ever so grateful we're giving you a state-of-the-art missile base. What else do you want from "us"???

beatroot said...

mlodziez wszechpolska have obviously been coming up in focus groups (even LPR do them) so it is slightly more cosmetic than it appears. They say they want to kick our extreme elements, but then in the same breath started going on about Ms Merkel as a pan-European dictator. So something don;t change.

I agree Opamp - the system has to take on elements of the UK system, for instance. There is a chance of that with PO in.

And yeah, it was SLD/PiS/PO's war - and Cimoszewicz was honest at the time, agreeing with Sonia - it our oil. Oil has not come though, so time to get out, is the thinking.

Anonymous said...

Sonia, Polish blood is more important than oil!

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