Moderator: If you support the antihazing bill (or don’t), now is the time to write your congress representative. It is one of 38 bills up for a vote around October 1.
2) Every so often I write a political column for the Franklin College Statehouse [Indiana] Bureau. This is on the potential sanctions against Poland caused by the almost-dictatorial sweeping “reforms” by President Duda. For original post, visit the Franklin College Statehouse coverage and subscribe for free.
By Hank Nuwer
The European Commission has censured Poland over President Andrzej Duda’s sweeping “reforms” that threaten democracy in one of the European Union’s vital members. Duda is the president of Prawo i Sprawiedliwo — which translates to the Law and Justice Party and is known for short as PiS.
The Law and Justice Party victory at the polls last election had placed the then-obscure politician Duda in the presidency. Outside his supporters that gave him 52 percent of the vote, dissenting Poles compared him to the puppets that governed the country during Soviet-era dominance.
Pulling Duda’s strings all along has been Kaczynski, co-founder with his late brother of PiS, whose stated purpose is to restore state supervision over press, freedom of speech and assembly, and the courts. Kaczynski already has put a state communications network in a power position, taken control of the army, and stripped Poland’s highest court of power.
This undemocratic state violates the democratic tenets of the European Union. It is nonetheless surprising that the EU, reeling from the pullout of Great Britain, delivered such a stern public rebuke.
Our own American state department, contrary to President Donald Trump’s public display of affection for Duda, has voiced loud concern over Poland’s abdication of democratic principles.
It may be that Duda and Kaczynski will respond to move to pull economically stable Poland out of the European Union, a move that would be a severe blow to the EU’s stability. This can only result in even more public protests in the squares of Poland.
Duda has turned his back on his inauguration vow pledging to uphold the constitution. Prior to the next election, the constitution in all likelihood will be rewritten as Kaczynski dictates to Parliament.
In spite of the two vetoes, Duda nonetheless signed a third controversial bill. That bill gives the state ultimate control over the lower courts, including firing and renaming all judges under the subterfuge of reforming the judicial system.
The Commission’s action reflects member concerns that Duda-Kaczynski’s PiS now plans to brainstorm a new strategy to achieve eventual dominance over Poland’s highest court and turn Poland into a virtual dictatorship.
The mood in Poland is somber and fearful. The country’s abandonment of democratic principles staggers both the idealistic young and those veterans of Communist-era imprisonment of political dissenters.
The irony is that Trump, immersed in the Russia election meddling crisis of his own making, visited Poland this month. He was supportive, even fawning, and gave his Polish host Duda the illusion that the United States condones the PiS’s extremist actions.
The bottom line is that unless Poland heeds the Commission’s letter of censure, it will continue to turn away from the West and the democratic ideals of present-day Germany.
Under normal conditions, a strong American president would contribute a loud and clear worldwide message of concern. But these are Trump times, not normal times, given Trump’s disgraceful silence in Poland during his visit.
Put another way, Poland’s ruling party has spit on the rule of law, and the Trump team has shown itself incapable of guiding Europe as Poland’s government goes renegade.
The ball is in Poland’s court after the Commission’s blistering serve. It’s match point for sure.
Hank Nuwer is a Franklin College journalism professor and the author of “Hazing: Destroying Young Lives,” “The Hazing Reader,” “Wrongs of Passage” and many other books.