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The Saga Continues

Posted on: April 14, 2016 by admin |

As the long chapter of my story in Poland (From Red Stars to Golden Arches) continues to evolve in the most surprising ways – even several years after I returned home – I’ve created this blog to continue reporting remarkable ongoing discoveries pertaining to my views of the holistic link between artistic expression and social issues concerning current world affairs, or even local ones if they seem relevant.

Press Freedom Restrained from Poland to the US

The Saga Continues


Incredibly, billboards have been plastered all over the 2016 Culture Capital drawing a disturbing link between my ex-ghost Landlord and a lingering deep-seeded hatred of Jews. It appears that a local PR campaign in Wrocław has aimed to exonerate Olga Tokarczuk from the public embarrassment and threats on her person that have occurred since she expressed a historical revision that many Poles do not wish to hear, this coming after her newest book won the country’s prestigious NIKE award (Please see my story: “Painting Over Hatred.”) Whereas before she was a popular cult hero, for better or worse, now she must be known by everyone in the city, if not all of Poland, and it certainly must be great for sales of her book!

And yet, the billboard contains some very peculiar and provocative symbolism, both visual and literary that most locals likely cannot possibly understand, in a way that I do. For one, of all things, there is a tower with a clock in the lower left corner of the billboard, which is very odd, considering that the tower is not Baszta. One might assume that after all of the money that the city has recently invested in the tower, that this might be a perfect opportunity to promote it as well. Instead, the image selected is of a fictitious tower that does not even exist in Wrocław. To think that I, and the people I hired, often plastered posters on walls all over town without ever having access to an entire billboard, wouldn’t you know it that the city let but another golden opportunity go to waste?

Even more striking is the right side of the billboard depicting of the cover of a magazine published by the newspaper that is behind the annually-selected NIKE award. On the cover is the countenance of Ms. Tokarzuk but what is most noteworthy is the short text below:

To ja jestem patriotką, a nie palący kuklę Żyda.

Upon a recent receipt of photos of this billboard, from a friend living in Wrocław, I asked her what this sentence means. Despite having graduated in Polish philology, she said that the sentence structure was unusual and that it made no sense to her. Hence, to translate it into English would seem to be of little meaning as well.

I then asked someone living elsewhere in Poland to translate it and he gave me the exact same translation that was automatically generated when I inserted the text into an online translator. This surprised me because such translations are often far from accurate:

I am a patriot, not a burning effigy of a Jew.

Still, as he also did not understand the significance of the sentence, I found this to be perplexing. Given that Ms. Tokarczuk had been embroiled late last year in an online campaign that amounted to threats to leave Poland for having historically implicated Poles in the abuse of Jews, this sentence made no sense to me either. So, I did a search of the sentence and to my even greater surprise a series of articles in English-language that were published beginning last November instantly materialized.

One article from the American politics and culture magazine called Slate, dated November 20, 2015, is entitled:

“Anti-Refugee Polish Nationalists Didn’t Get the Message That They’re Not Supposed To Hate Jews Anymore.”

Perhaps no one realizes what I do from so far away, as mythology becomes indecipherable from reality. Once again I see how my own, until now, unknown tale becomes inadvertently implicated in Poland’s never-ending historical soap opera. The newspaper, which had awarded Tokarzcuk, appears to be covering for her with what sounds to me to be a very unflattering commentary about Jews. Perhaps the nearly indecipherable sentence above is misunderstood, since its long time editor, Adam Michnik, so happens to be Jewish? In any case, few have known about the literary Queen of Baszta’s former relationship with her cash cow Jewish-American tenant.

Wouldn’t you know that the significance of all of this is the burning of the effigy of an Orthodox Jew that occurred in Wrocław last November? As is described in Slate’s article:

A right-wing nationalist rally against the resettlement of migrants and refugees in the Polish city of Wroclaw boiled over into anti-Semitism on Wednesday when protesters burned an effigy of an Orthodox Jew holding a European Union flag and chanted “God, Honor and Fatherland.” Poland’s chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich, describing the incident as “outrageous and concerning,” compared it to demonstrations by the Nazis and Hamas. He also said it showed “how the hatred for migrants comes from the same place as the classic hatred for Jews.”

One day earlier, on November 19, 2015, The Times of Israel headlined the event more precisely:

“Polish anti-refugee protesters burn effigy of Orthodox Jew.”

“A Polish demonstration against taking in Muslim refugees ended with the burning of an effigy of an ultra-Orthodox Jew holding the flag of the European Union…Dozens protested Wednesday evening in front of the city hall in the western Poland city of Wroclaw…The crowd shouted: ‘United Catholic Poland! National radicalism! Down with the European Union!’ The demonstration was organized by the National Radical Camp and All-Polish Youth.”

The Slate article went on:

“The incident comes just a few days after the nominee for defense minister from the recently elected, right-wing, anti-refugee Law and Justice Party came under fire for having once asserted that the infamous anti-Semitic forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, may be true.”

What Elie Wiesel called “a book about lies and slander, according to the Holocaust Encyclopedia, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which was first published in Russia in 1903, is: 

the most notorious and widely distributed anti-Semitic publication of modern times. Its lies about Jews, which have been repeatedly discredited, continue to circulate today, especially on the Internet. The individuals and groups who have used the Protocols are all linked by a common purpose: to spread hatred of Jews.

The Protocols is entirely a work of fiction, intentionally written to blame Jews for a variety of ills. Those who distribute it claim that it documents a Jewish conspiracy to dominate the world. The conspiracy and its alleged leaders, the so-called Elders of Zion, never existed.

 Strangely, not a word was written in any of the articles I came across that mentioned Wrocław was about to be celebrated as the 2016 Culture Capital of Europe. Was this censored for being too embarrassing?

Sadly, Tokarczuk’s new book and her public statements about the complicity of Poles in the abusive treatment of Jews, which resulted in threats against her person, only reaffirmed her controversial commentary. What makes this all the more unsettling is what this says about the incognito owner of Baszta.

With that unpleasant truth so well concealed, according to widely spread lies over a century ago that for some people remain alive and well as truths today, apparently I accepted the completely unanticipated invitation to Poland in 1989 – and many years later rented Baszta – for the sake of global domination through the artistic study of subways of the world, educating about world wine and exposing the natives to everything from music to previously unknown cuisine that was unavailable during forty-five years of life behind the Iron Curtain.

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