This Friday, to celebrate the Independence of Poland members of the NOP and other far-right extremists will be marching through Wrocław.
While last year the main newspaper of Poland Gazeta Wyborcza supported a counter-demo, this year their position has changed, whereby they rather supported yesterday's 'march of tolerance' from the new synagogue to the site of the one destroyed by the Nazis in 1938 during the Reichspogromnacht (note to Poles, Kristallnacht was actually the word used by Nazi propaganda to try to make it look like a beautiful thing).
I was there. It was quite cool. There was a crowd of 600 people, including young people from schools in Wrocław, Norway and Israel.
Friday will be another business, however:
The racist, anti-semitic, homophobic, nationalistic party called NOP
For those of you who don't know them, let me present the NOP (Narodowe Odrodzenie Polski, in English 'National Revival of Poland') to you (from here):
Saying 'Jews will be removed from Poland, and their possessions will be confiscated'
The slogan "Jews out!" along with NOP symbols were spray-painted on the home of Marek Edelman, who was the deputy commander in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and the last of the leaders of the uprising still alive.
Denying the use of gas chambers in Auschwitz-Birkenau
Producing an election poster showing two men in uniform holding an injured/dead man with the words 'Fascism? We are worse!!!'
Attacking a Roma centre in Łódź
Don't kid yourself. They are fascist. Now, for about a decade they have been marching on the 11th of November and faced small numbers and an increasing opposition. Their response was to call their march a 'Independence March' to try to give themselves the appearance of not being right-wing extremist, and pull basic nationalists alongside.
This video shows last year's march:
Note the Nazi-salute at 1:07
In a write-up for this event, the following was said by a member of the neo-nazi group Stormfront: "That jewish-zionist newspaper operating in Poland, called "Gazeta Wyborcza" was fueling the fire against our march in Wroclaw [...]the main redactor of Wroclaw's section of Gazeta Wyborcza, had been distributing whistles to the crowd of left-wingers, some Jews among them, many feminist and liberal activitists and some left-liberal politicians, including well-known former communists."
I gather that over a 1,000 fascists and fascist-sympathisers will attend the march this year. I also gather that the leadership of the NOP will also attend. The unlucky thing with this year's 11th of November is that it will be the day of the first game in Wrocław's new stadium, when Poland play Italy.
Actually, most Polish football fans reject the Nazi march, and some will be there at a counter-demo. It seems, however, that the counter-demo will be small.
The usual mainstream prejudice about anti-fascists
The Gazeta Wyborcza in the article I mentioned above contains a few typical fallacies:
"The far-right and far-left (sic.) were running after each other in little gangs". In fact that is not true. I was there. It was a relatively peaceful march. Sure, the Nazis were shouting at us, and I saw one antifa girl snatch a flag from a Nazi and get a punch for her efforts, but there were no 'gangs running after each other'. Indeed, due to the inefficiency of the police I found myself marching with the Nazis at one point!
Nah, it's the usual prejudice, like I wrote about here. With no evidence to back up their claims, we see the mainstream accusing the 'far-left' of being as bad of the far-right. Simply ask yourself: Who is a bigger danger in society? Perhaps a look at this report will help you.
Both in countries that used to have communist statist systems and western countries there exists a prejudice against those who try to fight racism and discrimination. We're seeing that with this Friday's march.
The NOP and other fascists do not have democratic aims. Surely, then, in a democracy, while allowing them and their like to meet and assemble we also have the right, nay, duty to stand up as democrats against them? While they are not likely to have electoral success, their discrimination is still out there. Indeed, GB and Germany have seen in the past ten years how a far-right agenda can enter into mainstream politics.
They are people who commit acts of violence against minorities and the left-wing. They want to spread their violence through gaining new people to their side. Such parades serve as a way to bolster their sense of belonging to each other and making themselves known. A lack of a clear opposition to open displays of racism and xenophobia serves to maintain or even strengthen them.
If you want a Poland where people of different skin colours, religions, sexualities or different views are respected one has to do more than march for tolerance, one has to be active against the march for intolerance. The march on Friday needs to receive a clear message from the people of the supposedly multicultural, liberal and tolerant Wrocław. It sends out a very bad message to fascists if they can summon up more of them for their marches than that for the 'march for tolerance', which looks likely.
(Oh, and I doubt they'll look at the photos of the 'March for tolerance' in Gazeta Wyborcza.)
A tradition of anti-fascism
Germany is (hopefully) well-known for its work against fascists. Netz gegen Nazis, a blockade or two and an organisation in Berlin are busy in their work.
GB also has its tradition of fighting fascists.
Tower Hamlets in London this year saw thousands turn out against one of England's fascist organisations, the EDL. Oslo saw its own stand against fascism, of course. Warsaw as well!
In other words, the fight against racism and fascism happens all over Europe.
There's a few examples of when it doesn't happen: In the Czech Republic and in Hungary. In both cases we see what happens when a far-right group starts marching and there's no or little open outcry against them. People who may not themselves be far-right see that they can openly give voice to their prejudicial views and therefore join in with their marches. When prejudice becomes tolerated in a society escalations like in Hungary can occur. It is naive to believe that if we ignore them they will go away. That didn't happen in Hungary.
No, I hope to see a big crowd standing up for tolerance on Friday, 5pm on ul. Świdnicka
Oh, and the RC church of 'The most holy Maria Panna' on the sand, a church with a Radio Marija poster hanging on its wall outside, will be having a Mass for the 'Motherland Poland' at 630pm tomorrow evening. I learned this through looking at the Facebook site for those attending the fascist march.....