Thursday, April 26, 2007

Geremek Affair

Bronislaw Geremek, French historian and Polish politicians, may lose his seat in the European Parliament: he refuses to sign a statement, per a new Polish law, declaring that he did not collaborate with secret state police during the communist era. He has resisted because, first, he already signed a statement, and second, the law is part of a larger purge of intellectual and bureaucrats in Poland:
I already made [such a declaration] in 2004, when I campaigned for the European elections, and now I feel as if I live in the country of King Ubu. . . . I believe that the law of lustration in its current form violates moral rules and threatens liberty of expression, the independence of the media nd the autonomy of the university. It engenders a form of ministry of truth and memory police. (full statement, in French)
Colleagues have rushed to defend him, noting his history resisting communism:
[Daniel Cohn-Bendit:] We have fought Stalinism with Geremek, and we will protect our colleague without hesitation from a government that behaves either in a Stalinist or fascist manner.
This affair comes as Poland's president, Lech Kaczynski, has come under scrutiny for his administrations intolerant policies, especially toward homosexuality.

[ETA:] I don't expect we'll have a "Gunter Grass" moment--information coming to light of collaboration, or that whatever meager information does come to light will be of no significance. His early membership in the communist party is known (as his involvement in Solidarity), and Geremek has not insisted that those who collaborated had not place in public life. Given that Polish governments in the 1990s decided it would not, in the country's interest, investigate such matters, Geremek's refusal seems like an honest attempt to protest the Kaczynski's turn to extremism and prevent hysteria.

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