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US media reports regarding Independence Day March in Warsaw

ostatnia aktualizacja 11-17-2017, 10:25

The way Poland was portrayed in numerous articles has nothing in common with the real picture of Poland and Poles.

Foto: De VisuFoto: De Visu

Following the Independence Day commemorations in Warsaw on November 11, numerous US media outlets presented information that was tendentious, not objective and in some cases simply false.

In leading nationwide dailies and in electronic media, articles were published presenting the Saturday march in Warsaw as a march of "tens of thousands of nationalists" or even "60,000 nationalists." The disgraceful behavior of several hundred aggressive people, was presented as representative of all Poles who on Saturday participated in more than 300 peaceful celebrations across the country. Representatives of Polish authorities, including President Andrzej Duda, Prime Minister Beata Szydlo and numerous ministers condemned all manifestations of anti-Semitism, xenophobia and nationalist attitudes during the celebration of Poland’s Independence. 

Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration Mariusz Błaszczak has directed the police to promptly analyze the slogans voiced during all gatherings in Poland on November 11th. 

The Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Washington has petitioned two outlets, which in a unique way distorted the image of events in Warsaw and thus presented a picture of Poland that is untrue and hurtful to the nearly 40 million Polish citizens and millions of Poles living in the USA and other countries around the world. 

In a letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal, in response to Drew Hinshaw's article "Polish Nationalist Youth March Draws Thousands in Capital," Ambassador Piotr Wilczek wrote: 

It is unfortunate but not entirely surprising that American media reports regarding the annual Independence Day Parade in Warsaw, Poland have resorted to sensational headlines and selective accounts that are at best half-truths and at times entirely unfounded. Using buzzwords the author has painted a picture that has shocked many American readers. The reality, however, tells a different story. Thousands of Polish citizens, families, seniors and people from all walks of life took part in this annual celebration of Poland’s independence.  

The presence of a small group of abhorrent groups or individuals is condemnable, but does not represent the entire gathering. As Deputy Prime Minister Piotr Glinski expressed today, "We do not approve of support in the public sphere for an ethnic national community, we support the idea of a nation rooted in culture.” Additionally, as you may recall, Poland’s Foreign Ministry condemned the proposed participation of Richard Spencer in the march.

Yesterday in Poland there were over 300 independence day celebrations all across the country, as Poles gathered together to celebrate the 99th anniversary of Poland regaining her independence in 1918.

It is unfortunate that due to the writing of Mr. Hinshaw, readers in America will come away with the impression that there was but one celebration in Poland for Independence Day and that it was filled with angry nationalists. As the author himself confessed, this impression is misleading as the few fringe groups do not represent the majority of marchers or Polish society at large.

As a result of our intervention (on 11.12), the article has been updated several times, including the addition of information about the words of condemnation spoken by Deputy Prime Minister Piotr Gliński. The newspaper also added a clarification. 

In a letter to the editors at CNN in connection with the article "Nationalist protesters disrupt Poland independence day events" by Matthew Day, Ambassador Wilczek wrote: 

The presence of a small group of abhorrent groups or individuals is condemnable, but does not represent the entire gathering. Stating in the article that “tens of thousands of nationalist protesters disrupted Poland’s independence day events” or that “police estimate that 60,000 people took part in the nationalist demonstration” is sensational reporting and not an accurate reflection of events in Warsaw.  

What is more, CNN was the source of a false claim regarding the content of some of the signs visible at the march. A claim that was then spread widely among leading American media outlets. While CNN has offered a correction, this inaccurate reporting has caused countless readers to be misled.  

On Monday, strong words of condemnation came from Poland's President Andrzej Duda, who said  “In our country, there is no room or tolerance for xenophobia, sick nationalism or anti-Semitism. Such attitudes will lead to exclusion from our society.” Other members of the government as well as the leader of the Polish ruling party, Jarosław Kaczyński, also spoke out, saying,  “incidents that occurred [during the march] were extremely bad, totally unacceptable. The Polish tradition which we are invoking, has nothing in common with antisemitism, nothing in common with racism, nothing in common with xenophobia.” 

For the sake of fair reporting, the author should include this information in his story instead of falsely claiming that “the Polish government has fostered an atmosphere of intolerance and xenophobia.” We believe an update to the article is warranted.  

Unfortunately, CNN has not issued a correction to the above article.

Embassy of the Republic of Poland
in Washington D.C.
2640 16th St NW
Washington, DC 20009


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