Who am I talking about?
- A group with a political point of view gains control of the means not only of disseminating the nation’s history – its very story.
- The official story is made to comport with that dominant group’s narrative – in schools, journalism, academia, even museums.
- They even bring the apparatus of the state to bear to enforce that narrative, squashing freedom of speech.
Am I referring to America’s universities and public education system!
Well, yeah – but not just them. It’s not quite that simple.
Freedom to Talk Freedom: If you’ve read this blog any length of time, you know I’ve had a longstanding fascination with the history of underdog nations and peoples – the land of most of my forefathers, Norway, as well as Israel, Finland, the Baltics (particularly Estonia), Denmark, Taiwan, and of course Poland.
Now, in Poland’s case, it’s not a story of absolutely unalloyed heroism; the Communist reign in Poland was administered and run by Poles – and there were wartime observations that some of the rural Poles living around the extermination camps were every bit as antisemitic as the Nazis themselves. And antisemitism didn’t end there; after the war, waves of antisemitic violence killed many of those who’d survived (including the leader of a heroic extermination camp breakout); in 1968, the Communist government of Władysław Gomulka expelled many of the remainder. While many Poles are represented among the “Righteous Among Nations”, they truly did face an uphill battle in large, rural swathes of the country.
Like all collections of humans, there are good ones and evil ones, and a whole lot in the middle that just wanted to survive, let along prosper, under atrocious circumstances.
That being said, Poles have for for freedom – theirs and others – since the 1700s. Poles were among the first Europeans to fight for what we now call liberal democracy, in their own homeland and ours (the American Revolution owed a debt to Kosciuszko and Pulaski). And the first tangible cracks in the Iron Curtain happened in Gdansk – in 1956 as well as 1980. There is much in the Polish heritage to balance the evil that popped up, here and there.
Poland is currently ruled by an electoral majority for the “Law and Justice” party – a party the media call “right wing”, although along with their rather fervid nationalism they have established one of the most expensive social welfare states in the European Union – which doesn’t protect them from the hatred of the Big Media, who links them, not completely inaptly, to Orange Literal Hitler Man.
And, as befits a nationalist party, they’re leading with the things that make their nation proud, and de-emphasizing the parts that don’t. Law and Justice is exerting political clout on controlling the narrative about Polish history that gets presented – via some means that should give First Amendment supporters critical pause. They’re not above a little Polish jingoism.
“On the Media” – which is to New York’s “elite” media what Pravda was to the Politburo – “tackled” the story over the weekend, with a series by reporter Laura Feder on the rise of Law and Justice, and the way they’ve exerted their control over the official history.
And it’s not all bad – it certainly helps that it’s not produced by the show’s usual hive enforcers, Bob Garfield and Brooke Gladstone. There are certainly some questions worth asking of Law and Justice, if one is a Polish voter (as I definitely am not). And a few that could be asked of “On the Media” and Ms Feder; while she covers Gomulka’s forced expulsions, she softpedals the notion that that was as much Communist policy as Polish nativist bigotry.
I actually recommend giving the pieces, above, a listen, albeit a critical one; the progsplaining and the “liberals wear the white hats” schtick gets a little galling at times.
But here’s my real question: It’s a bad thing that Law and Justice is blocking free speech to spread their preferred narrative, squeezing out the honest, complete telling of the story.
So when will “On the Media” report on the very similar effort on the part of the American Big Left in media, academia and politics to similarly control, and dishonestly skew, their own narrative?
The mainstream media – specifically, the New York Times’ – coddling Joseph Stalin, including the genocide in Ukraine? The Times’ embrace of Hitler, and the burying of the origins of the Holocaust? Their extended french kiss of the Soviets during the Cold War? The modern left’s strong-arm take-over of the American narrative in academia?
It’s a rhetorical question, I know.