A pocket dictionary of radicalisms in Polish media relating to the refugee crisis

Łukasz Bertram · 25 November 2015

European self-destruction – a turn of phrase often to be found on the pages of the portal fronda.pl, used to describe today’s European tendencies, or – to be more precise – strategies of the EU. At times, this is substituted for “Western self-destruction”. There are two possible contexts in which the term “self-destruction” figures here: (1) cultural, related to the abandoning of Christian roots and moral disarmament, and (2) biological, related to populations, made worse by a low birth rate caused by the reluctance to have children along with abortion, so widely used among the nations of the Old Continent. The European Left is often blamed for this state of affairs. Immigrants and refugees are also an influence, which is likely to push Europe towards some sort of edge, leading to the destruction of its culture and changes in ethnic and religious structures. The most vivid expression of this sentiment came from Tomasz Terlikowski, who claimed Islamic victory would be achieved using the wombs of Muslim women. Within such interpretative terms, this self-destruction of the West will also be aided by solidarity with refugees along with “ideological asphyxiation which will lead to a catastrophe” (Paweł Lisicki, “Europe in chaos”, Do Rzeczy, no. 38, 14-20th September 2015, p. 3) and the “passivity of Western societies, incapable of confronting this danger”, in the words of Marcin Wolski.

The Muslim assault (see also: invasion, conquest, penetration) – terms used to describe the mass influx of immigrants/refugees, mostly of Islamic faiths, from African and Asia to Europe in the summer of 2015, figuring in the Polish public debate. Of particular interest is that these are words associated with military terminology, inferring the involvement of conflict and violence, as well as the intention by those involved to take over and establish permanent bases in regions where the locals might not be willing to see this happen. This sort of terminology has been used by, among others, PiS MP Ryszard Czarnecki and Marian Piłka, along with journalists from the portal fronda.pl. This is often an excuse to draw historical analogies, such as with the Persian invasions of Greece, the movements of people’s towards the end of the Roman Empire, the Turkish offensive stopped at the gates of Vienna, and even the advances of the Red Army in 1920 or the German assault on Poland in September of 1939 [e.g. Marzena Nykiel, “Politicians readying Poland for the turban”, wSieci, no 37/2015, 14-20th of September 2015, pp. 18-21; cover of wSieci of the same issue]. In the face of such an invasion, Poland is seen to have a special role to play – reference is made to the “bulwarks of Christianity”, with Poland having once more the task of defending Western civilisation.

Islamic hordes (also Asian barbarians) – a term used to describe Muslim Africans and Asians arriving in Europe, found in Polish media channels in the second half of 2015. Along with other, similar such terms, they form an overall image of a barbaric mob, driven by the most base biological instincts, or, at best, a culture which tolerates acts such as murders and mass rapes inflicted upon the “unfaithful” (the portal fronda.pl states: More Muslims means more rapes. Anyone who fails to see this is either blind or stupid). Generalisations and formulations relating to vast and very diverse groups of people are often utilised, based on individual events (such as one-off crimes or transgressions), or wider processes – in the second instance, it is related to the ignoring of other factors, such as poverty, for example. Such contestations include, among others, “Arab Islam is the embodiment of all that which civilised people fight against” and “More Muslims means more rapes. Anyone who fails to see this is either blind or stupid. Tertium non datur!”.

The Berlin dictates (see also: The Western dictates) – a category within the Polish public debate, describing the political process which has led Poland to accept EU quotas for taking in refugees, and in a wider context describing Polish relations with countries in the West, the EU and specifically Germany. According to this interpretation, Polish sovereignty has been breached, while the Polish government has surrendered to the EU, and above all – to direct orders issued by German authorities. Tomasz Terlikowski has used this opportunity to refer to the Polish government as “a lapdog carrying out German orders”). For the portal niezalezna.pl “the dictatorship of the West [has been] termed as an act of capitulation”. The portal fronda.pl has also associated the 17th of September 2015, when refugee quotas were assigned, to the 17th of September 1939. The same portal described the actions of prime minister Ewa Kopacz in terms of treason, while a wSieci journalist, Witold Gadowski, as far back as May 2015 claimed that the refugees due to arrive in Poland will be selected by Berlin as the equivalent of toxic waste, which it will want to dump on Poland [“Euroemigrants”, wSieci, 25-31st May, p. 111]. The same category can be used to define a front page cover of the wSieci magazine (no. 38/2015), showing Ewa Kopacz as an Islamist terrorist, who will turn Poland into a hell – on, no less, “orders from Berlin”. Polish politicians are also giving into orders not only in relation to refugees – calling to mind here a statement made by PiS politician Jarosław Zieliński, claiming that Poland’s surrender to Germany has dated back to the very beginnings of the PO government, while its leader Donald Tusk, apart from having been a prime minister, was also a “German servant”. “The Berlin dictates” was often shown as a rule which defined how all of the EU worked, not only in relation to Poland.

Welfare jihad – a phrase used to describe the motives of people from Asia and Africa, of the Muslim faith, coming in mass numbers to EU states, in search of asylum. According to this interpretation, their overriding aim is not escaping war, persecution or poverty, but to have access to European welfare provision, which they are essentially not entitled to. This exact phrase was used by Grzegorz Wierzchołowski in the pages of Gazeta Polska Codziennie, then reposted by niezalezna.pl and paraphrased by fronda.pl. “Welfare jihad” is associated with a more traditionally understood jihad, related to fears of a “holy war” unleashed by Islamist fanatics against representatives of different cultures – such as in the text by Matka Kurka (Piotr Wielgucki), in which he claims “Asian hordes are descending upon Europe with only one thing in mind – to claim our welfare payments and impose a fanatical ideology on us”.

Translated from Polish by Marek Kazmierski.