- June 19, 2013
Venclova and „patriotai”
Tomas Venclova, dissident and, at the same time, one of the most recognizable Lithuanians in the world, had been honoured by the government of Lithuanian capital city. Since birth living in Vilnius, citizen of the world by choice, received honorary citizenship of Vilnius. The kind distinction was eclipsed by attitude of fellow-countrymen of famous poet and citizen of Vilnius.
A commentator of „Lietuvos rytas”, Valdas Bartasevičius writes, that Venclova’s honoring by the Council of Vilnius happened to be an assumption to unrefined attacks on the aged intellectual from the extreme right community and generally primitive individuals afflicted by xenophobia and anti-Semitism. “What was written about Venclova these days makes us to ask: isn’t it the time yet, for the intellectual part of Lithuanian society to stop being silent and to start defend – not Venclova, because he can defend himself – but Lithuania, against this kind, pardon the expression, «Lithuanians»” writes Bartasevičius, and keeps on asking. “Zoological anti-Semitism, repulsive anti-Polonism, boundless loutish behavior – could this way of thinking and this world view has seized the people of Lithuania? In some circles – laments the journalist – kind word about Poles brings on quite unbelievable hysterics and an avalanche of insults. “The national youth” – using the expression from the national palace – most of all felt offended by the comment of Venclova concerning multiculturalism of Vilnius, whose he is a passionate supporter. “It’s an amusing anachronism, this all battle of – finding themselves nationalists – politics and social activists with Polish language and double cities’ writing, what demands Polish minority” said Venclova in the Vilnius town hall during the ceremony of honorary citizenship grant. This statement got on nationalist “tautininkais” like a red rag to an enraged bull. It started an avalanche of offensive, even abusive comments and statements (especially in the Internet).
Meanwhile, Bartasevičius accurate notices, that the words of Venclova about multiculturalism of Vilnius almost overlapped with the President’s statement during annual proclamation. The president, just like we have written, took an enraged bull’s side, not Venclova’s.
Pro-Polish attitude of Venclova, who was a close friend of Vilnius Nobel prize winner, Czesław Miłosz, is commonly known. He is also well-known from his cosmopolitanism, with which it is sometimes hard to agree. It doesn’t change the fact, that persecuted during the Soviet period intellectual is an eminent Lithuanian, to whom Lithuania and Vilnius owe a lot. Venclova, like no other Lithuanian poet, makes famous Lithuanian language, Lithuanian literature, and poetry of the highest level, in the world Universities and the most opinion-forming educated circles. Therefore, it looks quite grotesque, when „patriotai”, who often can’t even concoct a few sentences in their national language, teach Venclova patriotism.
Tłumaczenie by Zuzanna Horbacz w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Zuzanna Horbacz within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.