- June 18, 2012
Radczenko: Nationalism equals idiocy
Stupidity has no particular nationality, whereas undoubtedly, its ultimate form is nationalism. What is even worse, idiocy is infinite and everybody who visited Rasos and saw the Columns of Giediminas painted on Józef Piłsudski’s tomb by some unknown perpetrators last weekend will agree with that.
I understand that not everybody has to worship Józef Piłsudski. The Marshal was an outstanding statesman and at the same time an incurable political romantic who, on top of everything else, often lacked consistency in realizing his vision. However, there is no doubt that he loved Vilnius and Lithuania. And even Lithuanian nationalists should try to understand that love, even if Piłsudski’s actions, which after all resulted from this feeling, are for them unacceptable. The history of Polish-Lithuanian relations is not easy, and acts of vandalism certainly do not help to understand or discuss it.
Unfortunately, it is not the first case of a Polish-Lithuanian war with monuments. Last year, at night on 21-22 August, unknown perpetrators in Puńsk district, inhabited predominately by Lithuanians, painted a number of signs with town and village names in Lithuanian white and red. They also throw paint over a monument in Puńsk commemorating the first Lithuanian theatrical performance and wrote “Phalanx” on it. Two months later another act of vandalism, this time against Poles, took place in a parish cemetery in Święciany – crosses at the heads of the Polish legionaries’ graves were covered with paint and the commemorative plaques in Polish and Lithuanian with painted swastikas. Lately, when a historic building in Goštauto Street 1 – the former headquarters of the Society of Friends of Science in Vilnius – was undergoing restoration, a historical Polish inscription on its main façade was destroyed.
After the incidents in Puńsk, a group of Polish people expressed an opinion on the Internet that those were Lithuanians who stood behind the damage. After the act of vandalism in Święciany, Lithuanian Internet surfers put forward an exactly the same type of conspiracy theories: “Those couldn’t be Lithuanians. It isn’t typical of Lithuania. Those must have been Poles who were irritated by the fact that Lithuania did not react to their boorish excesses”…
Authors of conspiracy theories (and the Internet is full of such people) will probably put the Rasos paintings down to Polish nationalists. Unfortunately, I know exactly that Lithuania does not lack bald, full of complexes idiots who understand “the fight for Lithuanianness” in such a perverted way and those are: nationalists, fascists, or xenophobes, in short a Lithuanian version of the Polish imbeciles who in a similar way dealt with the Lithuanian paintings and monuments in Puńsk last year. Idiocy is infinite. Idiocy has no particular nationality. Apparently, the ultrapatriotic nonsense, the media (even the serious ones), committees, associations, nationalists or “patriots” unions are talking, has once again inspired a few nationally involved snots to initiate “an action in retaliation”.
“The government and I personally, we strongly discourage acts of vandalism, we will discourage them in the future, and it doesn’t matter whether they concern Polish, Russian, Jewish, German, or Lithuanian soldiers’ graves” – said the Prime Minister of Lithuania Andrius Kubilius after the incidents in Święciany. The acts of vandalism in Rasos were also immediately condemned by the Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis. But actually, both the government and all of us, we have much more to do if we want Lithuania to be called an open and tolerant country again. Issuing an edict or passing an act is not enough to introduce tolerance. However, law can help to create the atmosphere of “a zero-tolerance policy” punishing any signs of nationalism or xenophobia. If we cannot successfully teach tolerance at school or by means of newspaper articles, maybe it is high time to “teach” it by means of the Criminal Code?
“Ethnic prejudice is being overcome but slowly. One can help to forget about it completely, however not by repeating over and over again that maintaining prejudice is unreasonable and contemptible but by getting rid of the fundamental reason of its existence” – claimed an outstanding American sociologist Robert K. Merton. The whole nationalistic idiocy will exist as long as we will tolerate it, as long as in such cases as the incident in Puńsk we will solely look for conspiracies and agents, and the “patriotic” reasons of their actions.
We can only hope that the police will catch all the “painters” as soon as possible. Those who suffer from nationalism should be cured in a short time. And the best places to do that would be prisons. The untreated become extremely dangerous. There was one (Austrina) “painter” who proved that a few years ago.
Tłumaczenie Małgorzata Mitoraj w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Małgorzata Mitoraj within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.