Saturday, April 10, 2010

Poland: The Political Made Personal

Poland’s president Lech Kaczynski and 96 other Polish government officials died in a plane crash today. The loss of human life and the damage it’s done to a nation that has suffered plenty already—they were traveling to Russia to commemorate the anniversary of a WWII-era Soviet massacre of 22,000 Poles—should be enough to elicit condolence from anybody who cares about these things. Should be.

I came across a reaction to the disaster on JoeMyGod, a page I’ve frequented for gay news and a good yuk at the expense of the ignorant. The post was titled, “Anti-gay President of Poland Dies in Plane Crash With 96 Others” and, aside from an extended quote about the accident, existed mostly to point out Kaczynski’s extreme stance on gay marriage (that it would bring about the end of the human race). Much of JMG’s commentators responded accordingly, with crows of delight that a homophobe had been scrubbed from the Earth. Because in the moments immediately following a national tragedy, brandishing your pet political causes is what’s most important.

If words fail in responding to the crash, then what to make of the foul words of these responses? I should hope it would be enough to say that however repugnant one finds his opponents’ ideas, there ought to be afforded a baseline respect.* But apparently it isn’t, so perhaps a few thought experiments are in order. JMG’s readership is, I assume, largely American liberal, so I pose a few questions calibrated toward their particular prejudices:

1. Do those celebrating Kaczynski’s death oppose the death penalty, as most liberals do?
2. What was their response to the assassination of George Tiller?
3. What if Barack Obama is assassinated?

If these ghouls delight in the accidental death of an anti-gay politician, then for consistency they ought support the state-sanctioned death of violent criminals—including gay bashers! Likewise, if Kaczynski’s freak accident is to be celebrated, then his politically-motivated murder, had events played out that way, should have been applauded, as some did that of Kansas abortion provider George Tiller. By that same token, then, the Tea Party rapture that would greet an Obama assassination would simply have to be chalked up to a difference in opinion. But JMG readers like Obama, or at least don’t want him to die, so if that were to happen, maybe they could take comfort in how awesome it would have been if Bush had been gunned down or choked to death on a pretzel, because if someone doesn’t like someone else, then he is entitled to bask in his opponent’s physical destruction, no matter the respect the office commands.

* I’ll admit that I enjoyed** Christopher Hitchens’ dancing on Jerry Falwell’s grave, but in my defense I’ll say that 1) Falwell was old and died naturally, no untimely end there, and 2) Falwell was not an elected national leader, but a spotlight-seeking demagogue; even Poles—including gay Poles—who did not like Kaczynski are in a state of national mourning.
**Edited for redundant phrasing

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