First they came for the gays

First, they came for the gays. Actually, that’s not right. First, they came for the refugees, in 2015. We did not speak up, I guess we were a bit wary ourselves. It was something remote, unknown, perhaps threatening indeed? It did feel off for some of us, but not for the majority. With hate and fear on their flags, our current government came to be.

I was never too proud of being polish. It always felt bizarre to me, being proud of something I did not contribute to. It’s a happy accident. Or perhaps a “happy accident”. But I had to carry this flag nonetheless. I’m not too fond of talking about where I’m from, since it’s hard to avoid generalizations. I am “one of them”, after all. Not just by my birthright, but also by 20-30% of my income each month. It’s hard to not feel somewhat responsible, when you’re literally importing money from abroad in order to fund something reprehensible. But here I am.

Then they came for the judges, which is not all that surprising. It’s hard to pass laws when some old constitutional organ complains about your new laws being illegal. Now we have new judges, and a government office called a “disciplinary chamber” to silence the old ones. Some action needs to be taken when democracy gets in the way of progress. EU got as serious as it gets, of course, with an official condemnation. Perhaps a slap on the wrist is next.

Again, we did not speak up. Actually, the majority did, but the “effective majority” did not (meaning: they kept the majority of parliament seats). The signal was sent: “keep up the good work”.

The presidential election is coming up in two weeks. The dreaded LGBT is the enemy number one, again. It wasn’t even the main topic of the presidential campaign until very recently. Even an actual gay candidate couldn’t do what the current mayor of Warsaw did. He made the ruling party afraid. Not of gays, but of losing. A new enemy was needed, and with Warsaw being a liberal oasis of Poland, that enemy was determined to be the “LGBT ideology”.

Not the gays, seemingly. Not at first anyway. We respect all people, they said. It’s just the ideology we oppose, they said. But something began to slip through the cracks. Just today, one of the MoP, a member of the current president’s election staff, said on national television: “These people are not equal to normal people”. Not equal. To normal people.

Full quote, translated: “Let us defend The Family from this sort of corruption, depravation, absolutely immoral acts. Let us defend ourselves from LGBT ideology and let us stop listening to this idiocy about some human rights or some equality. These people are not equal to normal people and let us get over this discussion already.”

While writing this, I’m glancing at the morning TV. I see president’s staff and ruling party members continuing their narrative like nothing happened. They’re not even dodging the subject. They carry on. “Yes, we oppose the ideology. Just like when the communists did it. It’s just as bad as «gender», and «bolshevism»”.

It’s… surreal. It’s not a phantom foreign threat anymore. It’s a domestic attack on our own people. And yet it’s working. Make no mistake, this is not an unfortunate choice of words, not a slip of the tongue. PiS does very little by accident, their actions are almost always based on public opinion. They rarely backtrack on their own words and actions, unless the polls show that they’ve crossed some line.

The reason why this narrative is the theme of the election is because they’ve polled and analyzed and realized that it’ll work. That this is exactly what an “effective majority” is looking for. These are the words they’d chant and act on if they knew that they could get away with it.

It’s sickening, and I’m ashamed to be a part of this. There’s only so long one can bullshit themselves into thinking that it’s “the others”. The time to speak up was 5 years ago, and I did. This is the time to run.

None of this affects me, personally, yet. But I’d be afraid to invite my LBGT friends to poland. I may have a gay kid one day, and I shudder to think what their future would be like. And the moral dilemma they’d have to endure, between “well this is my home” and “this is a despicable place”. A bit like I do now, but worse.

The following two weeks may decide the future of poland. The sheepish acceptance vs keeping your head high. The convenient silence vs facing what’s hard, and fighting for what’s right. It’s not about “right” or “left”. It’s way past that. Even the nationalist slogan “Poland for the Poles” does not apply here anymore.