This blog is one I didn’t want to write, but one I feel must be written. It, unfortunately, focusses on a select few that misinterpret what today is about. It by no means reflects my personal opinion of this beautiful country I love or the people that make this land what it is.
I will instead focus on a minority. A minority that screws up Independence Day in Poland for everyone else.
Poland’s Independence Day celebrates the day the country regained its independence. In 1918, after 123 years of being shared amongst Austrian, Russian and Prussian rule, the Polish state was once it’s own.
But in recent years, ‘Independence day’ has become ‘destroy your own country day’.
I feel safe here. I feel just as safe here as I did in Australia. I live 50 meters away from a mosque and I feel safe every single day.
I feel unsafe when there are protesters and multiple police cars surrounding the mosque – as they are right now.
I feel unsafe and threatened on a bus with a few Legia Warszawa fans on game day.
Plac Zbawiciela, or ‘Saviour square’ in Warsaw was home to an art installation. Not some kind of weird, contemporary art, nothing abstract. It was a rainbow made of plastic flowers.
On November 11, 2013, a ‘patriotic’ group decided to burn this rainbow as it was seen as a symbol of gay rights and tolerance.
They felt threatened by a plastic flower rainbow.
These thugs were so threatened by a rainbow, that they had to wear balaclavas to seal their identities while they vandalized government property.
Whilst it was burning, they chanted ‘God, Honour, and Fatherland’.
I’m not sure which God they were referencing, but my understanding is that most Gods practice tolerance, compassion and understanding. This happens in many Polish cities.
During the 15th century, Poland defended Europe and protected Christianity from Eastern and Oriental influence.
Perhaps these patriots feel that a rainbow presents the same threat to the almighty Catholic church as Ghengis Kahn did.
If a rainbow made of flowers gets this response, let that set the tone for how a foreigner gets treated on a day like today.
I am a foreigner. I was not born here.
I want to speak Polish, I want to know, understand and celebrate Polish history, culture and the way of life.
I want to be here. I want to integrate. I believe that most foreigners in Poland want that, too.
On this country’s day of Independence, I want to go the middle of the nation’s capital and celebrate the day.
I want to be free today. I want to be Polish today.
But I can’t.
Because I don’t speak Polish.
I am terrified that by saying ‘mówię trochę po polsku’ (I speak a little Polish), I will be met with hostility. It may be the polar opposite, but if recent events are anything to go by, foreigners are not safe in Warsaw today.
I sadly have to admit, that I am lucky that I’m white. I have numerous Latino and Asian friends here in Warsaw that cannot go into the city center at all today.
Early 2016, a Polish professor and his German colleague were beaten up on the tram for speaking German. A Polish professor, beaten up for speaking German. ‘I love my culture so much, I’ll beat up a fellow Pole for not speaking the language’.
I cannot comprehend the amount of aggression that the Middle Eastern communities of Warsaw would be experiencing today.
‘I’ll use a foreign language to tell these ‘foreigners’ that they’re not welcome in my country, where we speak our own language’.
So why can’t I celebrate today in the city center?
Because the middle of Warsaw today will be flooded with flare-waving goons who think the best way to celebrate independence is to drag their county’s name through the mud.
Rest assured, that the world will be watching Warsaw and Poland in general today. In recent years, demonstrators have drawn worldwide attention to themselves for their violent clashes with police.
‘Demonstrations’ where people simply amass in the middle of the road, light flares and then throw rocks at police when they’re asked to disperse.
‘I love and respect my country so much that I’m going to assault a police officer!’
Far-right, or ‘patriot’ groups feel that today is the best day of the year to beat their chest. Yes, every country has nationalists, (my personal favorite is the Australian Nazi Party), and their lack of logic has always astounded me.
Living here, I am exposed to Polish nationalists more than any others – yet I cannot get past their lack of raw, simple logic.
Many of these groups claim that they need to stand up for Poland, that Poland and her way of life is under attack. That multiculturalism is not good.
If that’s the case, perhaps Poles should go back to driving only Syrenka’s and eating only Prince Polo. Because, you know, nothing good comes from another country.
But what does one have to do to not be subjected to violence today?
Is it to speak Polish? Immigrants, especially the Vietnamese in Warsaw, speak fluently.
Is it to be Catholic? There are Catholic Arabs living in the region today.
Is it to be Slavic? Poland itself has only 57% Slavic DNA.
It is fashionable for young people to wear patriotic shirts, with the symbol of anti-Nazi resistance or with the Polish eagle.
More and more young people are interested in “paramilitary” gun clubs, where they learn to handle firearms and shoot.
Is this Poland’s definition of masculinity? One must be able to handle a gun or be skilled in urban warfare for when the foreign invasion comes?
Is physically assaulting foreigners and even other Poles a rite of passage to becoming a man?
‘I love my country so much that I’m going to assault others and damage someone’s property’.
Shop fronts, cars, and other private property were destroyed by these ‘demonstrations’ in recent years. And I cannot help but feel it will repeat this year and get progressively worse.
In my 18 months of living and working here, I’ve met a lot of Poles. A lot of educated people from various socio-economic groups that have traveled and seen the world. Most of these people have told me that these ‘protesters’ people make them ashamed to be Polish.
Ashamed to be Polish.
I have seen many many Poles apologize for the behavior of these ‘patriots’ on days like today. Down to earth and well-educated Poles apologizing for the behavior of others. They’re embarrassed.
Many of my Polish friends say they consider themselves more ‘European’ than Polish.
These Poles feel unsafe to go into the capital – of their own country – on the day of its independence.
All because a group of thugs doesn’t like people that weren’t born here.
To these aggressive thugs, I ask you this.
Why do you feel threatened?
Is Russia taking over?
Too many Ukrainians? Vietnamese? Indians? Too many Australians? Or are we a ‘cool’ country? Australians are ok because we’re white and have nice beaches.
Today is not a day where I have to lock the door and not leave the apartment- not at all. I can take the dog for a walk, I can go for a ride on my bike – for all intents and purposes, it is just like any other day.
But it’s unsafe for me to go into the city center.
Is that freedom?
If Poland is a free country, why is it so unsafe for foreigners – even Poles – to go into the city center?
I know that I am not alone in these opinions. Many other expats have used Facebook groups to check if today is safe.
The comment section is like any other comments section – polarized. Most responses say things like ‘oh it’s fine, just don’t draw attention to yourself’.
But one of these questions was asked by a dark-skinned Muslim.
Now, if Poland is a free country, he should not feel threatened because of his physical appearance. He should not be threatened because of what he chooses to wear.
But he has been warned not to. For his own safety, in the country he wants to live in, he cannot be free today.
And that is the level of democratic, religious and cultural freedom on November 11th in Poland.
But the sheer fact that expats living in Warsaw have to ask if today is safe, is utterly disappointing.
Polish independence day has become like gang warfare. Clannish and fractured. Some poles want nothing to do with today. Others want to be violent for no reason. Others want to peacefully reflect on their country’s achievements.
I can only hope that in the future, there is a way for foreigners to express and celebrate their happiness and gratitude for the independence of the country they live in – Poland.
Ok, Phil, we get it – you’re one of the Good Ones. You’re so above the petty concerns of these hayseeds who probably don’t even drink craft beer or know what kale is. You roll your eyes at their ridiculous opinions and point & laugh at the less photogenic among them (Christ, don’t these people even use moisturisers???). A trip to the place that trims your hipster beard would do so much good for them but they probably wouldn’t listen anyway, would they? I mean, they’re surely too busy hatefully discussing their hateful hatred of everyone and everything and how they long for the good old days when Poland’s laws were specifically designed to be pro-white.
Er, no, sorry. That was Australia. Oops.
Anyway, isn’t it just awful that these mouth-breathers – who probably don’t even vape or watch Netflix – dare to criticise the sacred idea of immigration without end and “multiculturalism”? I mean, don’t they know about the wonderful contributions of Sudanese refugees to Australian society and all the jobs they’ve created? Sure, those jobs are in prisons and welfare offices, but still. Don’t they know that Sydney will be more than half-Asian within forty years and what a truly wonderful thing it will be when those backwards, embarrassing Bogans finally disappear? Sure, those white Australians and their ancestors built the place, but still.
These people that you’re so “afraid” of have seen the disaster of Western European-style open borders and leftist social policies and don’t want to see the same mistakes repeated in their own country – the nerve! Still, as long as we have wise and morally superior people like yourself to remind us how pathetic we are, there’s still a chance for us. On behalf of a grateful nation, thanks, Phil, for reminding us that for every person with a healthy instinct for self preservation and desire for national self-determination, there’s an arrogant, pretentious, pants-wetting girly leftist ready to start crying and writing pathetic tirades about being “afraid”.
Good one, Ja, I appreciated particularly the ironic tone of your text and I especially approve the last paragraph.
At the same time, I don’t want to totally blame Phil for his idea and his initiative.
I cannot say I am exactly between you, Guys. Just I share both of your opinion, maybe mainly the one of Ja.
What ? How possible would you say ? Well just maybe to give you a short extract of my life to try to make you understand. I have nothing against colored people, and I don’t think JA either.
Many friend of mine could witness that. It’s just that I had a lot of bad experiences in the street, in France, where I come from. As you probably know, there are a lot of different communities which immigrated there, from former colonies.
Since I was 10 years old, without reason, I just several times, be insulted, spitted on clothes, rob attempt, etc, in the street, without special reasons by “colored guys” in the street. Especially in or close to the subway, to train station, dowtown, etc.
For me, it was a victory if my glasses were not broken, and if I could escape without fighting.
But then, there was a turning point when I was 22 years old. 2 “muslims” came to me, to propose me to buy them some hashish. I was smoking some, time to time, but I didn’t know them at all, and one of them was quite agressive. As always, I tried to be diplomatic, to talk and to escape without a fight. But suddenly, I caught one of them with his hand, in my inner’s jacket pocket, trying to reach my wallet.
There was no more time for discussion, but I tried. Big mistake ! Suddenly, I was on the floor, glasses broken. Then, there was no more confusion in my mind, and I finally fought like a man, standing on my feet and punching these 2 bastards. It was my 1st serious fight, and I didn’t know how it will finish. People around started to assist and making kind of human area. More and more “muslims” grew the audience ring. I cannot say I felt great at the moment ! Fortunately, the Police arrived and put an end to this situation.
From this moment, I decided that I won’t be anymore a victim. I had then, ten of these situations. I want to precise again, I am absolutely not the kind of guy to look for trouble. It’s just I can’t stand that some people just start to agress you or agress other people, just for their pleasure, or whatever silly reason.
Le pouvoir des cons, c’est de les laisser faire : Power of Lame, it’s to let them do
If People would be not so weak and help each other in this kind of situation, these guy wouldn’t feel so confident and make mess for fun.
I just want to finish and say : I enjoy now to live in Poland, without need to be prepared to any kind of fight. I like Poland as it is and hope this country won’t change for extreme pluriculturalism, bla bla bla, whatever leftists idealize.
And at the same time, I will continue to meet my Algerian, Moroccan and Cameroonian friends, as always in Warsaw and in Lille.
How could you write this much and make absolutely not a single sense.
Sorry for you
What is wrong with you? Has a hipster stole your girl once, or what? I mean I get that you were trying very hard to be funny, but it turned out as usual.
I’ll tell you who you are: you are boys, lost in the modern world, that is too complex for your perception. You have no idea how to act, you are not very good with girls, because you are missing the practice of face-to-face communication with people, since you mostly play computer games. So you are frustrated and you turn into the only model of manhood you know – a wannabe fighter against really, whatever that’s non-abstract. You won’t read scietnifical papers about history, economy, politics to really understand what is going on, because it’s too difficult and not very accessible, so you read reddit, watch simplicized youtube videos and play World of Warcraft.
And then you get to see the world in this simplicized manner: there are us, there are them, they are bad, we are good, they want to hurt us, we have to defend ourselves. Just like in all those simple and easy to digest stimuli that you have surrounded yourself with. Do you really believe that the world is THAT simple? Have you ever been to Australia, have you entered any office building to see how racially diverse it is? Or is it a coincidence that Sweden, with their friendly attitude scores the top places in pretty much all the world rankings of the best places to live? It’s not like Europeans have a genetic monoply on being developed. Europeans paid the visit to most of the world in 19 century, so it’s good manners to pay a visit back, which is happening.
PS. Again, what is wrong about being girly?
Wow almost everything you’ve written involves bias and ad hominem fallacy. Most of what you’ve written are insults and not arguments so it was a waste of time on your part. It is true that racism is everywhere these days(including Poland, Australia, Turkey…etc). But that does not mean he has no right to criticise Poland as an Australian guy or that I have no right to criticise Poland as a Turkish guy. And believe me I criticise my country more than any other country since I’ve lived there for 27 years and I know it’s problems the best. You have every right to protest or criticise the idea of Western European-style open borders, since for you I think it is a way of protecting the economy and the way of life in your country, But when these stuff gets violent or agressive(both physical and pshycologically) people are obviously bothered. Because it gets violent sometimes. There was a Turkish guy in one of these indepedence day events who was beaten and got his passport destroyed. There was a Polish professor who was beaten in a tram for speaking in German. You might not want certain people to be admitted to your country, but physically assulting people who were already admitted or spreading hateful messages to tell people that you hate them and want them to leave or to write these stuff on the walls is kind of an asshole move. Maybe you are not doing these kind of stuff, but there are lots of people who do. And try to put yourself in our shoes. How would you feel if you were in a foreign country where you know there are a lot of people who hate Poles and tell you all kinds of negative stuff like ”Why are you here? Go back to your own country. Are you a terrorist?”…etc. Wouldn’t you feel at least a bit uneasy if you knew some of those people have commited violent assaults to Polish people in the past and if you were standing next to a large group(thousands of people) of them. Oh and it doesn’t help that they write things like ”kill Muslims” if you hail from a country with a Muslim majority. There is nothing wrong about being afraid and there is no need for these excessively macho comments for some reason I see a lot in these Polish forums. We are humans and when we feel threatened, we feel afraid. That is a natural, biological reaction and acting like you wouldn’t feel afraid when you were standing next to a racist crowd who would probably be hostile to you if they knew your nationality, doesn’t make you look more manly. Because people who do not feel fear at situations like these are either psychopaths or people who had brain injuries in the past or both or maybe ignorant people who do not know much about past violent crimes that were commited against foreigners.
Hi Phil.. being an expat in Warsaw for the last 8 years and until last month i know what your text is about…
I was going to comment it drawing your attention to the fact that the “Legia Warszawa” hooligans were just the visible face of the polish racism and xenophobia.. And that the hate is not only addressed towards Muslims or black people… Unfortunately i guess you can reach this same conclusion by reading the previous reply..
Situations such as you mentioned are not isolated ones… are frequent.. if you had a darker skin you would feel it constantly…
Furthermore, those situations occur with the consent of all the persons that observe them without interfering…
Dude, it’s our turf, fought for with plenty of blood, sweat and tears, with millions of people killed and most of the country destroyed. We have the right to decide who we want to live with. Australians, native Europeans and generally nations / ethnic groups behaving according to the western culture are ok and most welcome. Asians are harassed only by single mindless idiots as they have been living next to us since 90’s and cause zero problems. Germans and Russians raise mixed feelings as they were Poland’s notorious occupants for the last 300 years and returning enemies since the beginning of Poland as a country. Arabs and African blacks do not integrate, disrespect local culture, are invasive, abusive, contribute to terrorism and increase crime rates everywhere they appear – the last one is a statistic fact. Plus Germany just flooded Europe with them and tried sending them to Poland by force. Are you really surprised people are pissed at them and cheer celebrating their independence? You should also know Polish isolationism is selective. Have you seen Hungarian flags today? Hungarians were going together with Polish, most welcome and trust me, they have a darker skin tone and their knowledge of Polish language in most of the cases starts and ends on ‘dzień dobry’, ‘Polska’, ‘wódka’ and ‘Polak, Węgier dwa bratanki’. If let’s say Italians, British, Spanish, French or Australians decided to carry their flags alongside Polish ones today, they would be most welcome as well.
One last thing, on which I agree with you – the angry mob devastating others’ properties should be separated from the rest and heavily fined. There should be no room for violence this day.
As for the weeping Arabs and African blacks – my western logic says that if I moved to a country where native citizens don’t respect me or threaten me constantly, I would seriously consider going somewhere else. The problem with Arabs is they lack this kind of thinking, expecting everyone around to meet their standards. It won’t happen in Poland so they may keep weeping and calling us ‘racists’ or ‘fascists’ – we don’t really care anyways; adjust or leave.
Exactly ! Dokładnie !
Yeah, so, you don’t rrrreally need to live in Poland still…
Well said Luke!.
I’m a dark skinned girl from the pacific leaving here in Warsaw and I totally agree with your comment. Every citizen has the right to their own land and should decide who they want to be with. Where I come from, we don’t believe in racism, rather we believe in “personal preference “. It’s your country, y’all decide. And Poland has suffered too much in its history to know when something is wrong. I love Poland and even though it’s scary, I’d rather accept the people for their ideology because it is their human right.
Bravo Luke & Francois!!!
I would only add that that kind of violence and discrimination agaist foreigners happens every day in other countries (even worse). Without Independence Day. There were Poles killed or badly beaten because of they nationality in UK. Or “Go back to your own country!”,”English,please!” (I have heard the last one said to other foreigners as well ?).
It comes easy to point the fingers at the other ones…
So actually who is ok to live in Poland? Just wondering… Just Poles? If so… How do you defend that a big part of your generation has emigrated to countries like England, USA and Germany? How should these countries react to the huge flux of Polish emigrants? with hate like most of the comments I see here?
That rainbow wasn’t so innocent as you make it sound. And since when is a Pole waving his flag a goon?