“Welcome to the jungle eight little n*ggers” — How the current Polish government is sponsoring racism and far-right ideas.
At the end of August, public and private media in Sweden published information about how two artists with connections to far-right organizations have presented their creations at the Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art ( Centrum Sztuki Współczesnej) in Poland, Warszaw. The case is about Dan Park and Lars Vilks, both of who have been attracting a lot of publicity during the 2010s.
Park is, among other things, known for participating in neo-nazi organized marches and promoting racist opinions about refugees. In contrast, Vilks is known for his drawings and caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed during the 2000s.
The main criticism in different media publications is that Park and Vilks are making their exhibitions at the museum where the current right-wing populist and national-conservative government is sponsoring far-right opinions and propaganda and dismantling democracy. This is an obvious case when one looks at the history of Park and Vilks’ behavior regarding politics and culture.
Dan Park, a racist and neo-nazi supporter
Dan Park has been making racist posters since the 1990s, for example, against African-Swedes with messages as “” Hang on Afrobobians” and ”Welcome to the jungle — eight little n*ggers”.
In 2009, Park placed a metal can with a Nazi swastika with the text “Zyklon B” outside of the Jewish community facility in Malmoe. Park has claimed that it is a “Jewish myth” that around 6 million Jews were killed during Holocaust.
Also, Park had claimed that, as when he was arrested in 1996 and sentenced for breaking the law regarding incitement against an ethnic group, that he has never sympathized with neo-nazis despite him being a member of a party called Nationaldemokraterna that had the implementation of national-socialism, thereby making Sweden into a dictatorship, in their political program.
Dan Park openly showed on his Instagram during the 2018 elections in Sweden that he supports Nordiska Motståndsörelsen, an extreme far-right and neo-nazi organization.
Lars Vilks — “defender” of freedom of speech but not for Muslims
Lars Vilks has a different story. Vilks died recently in a car accident in southern Sweden. He became more famous during 2005 when the Danmark-based newspapers Jyllands Posten published the so-called Mohammed charicatures.
This action was very debated in Europe and criticized in the Middle East since Islamists and other radical Muslims demanded the charicatures to be removed. In order to provide support for the newspapers, Vilks made a roundabout dog with Mohammed. After this, Vilks received hateful comments and death threats and had to be provided with police protection.
Vilks has never been a member of any far-right nor nationalist organization himself. However, for example, in 2012, Vilks participated in a meeting organized by a far-right, conspiracist, and anti-Muslim organization, Stop Islamisation of Nations, a “counter-jihad” organization whose followers are famous for believing that all Muslims are evil and want to control the world and denying genocide in Srebrenica.
Vilks has also supported Dan Park despite the case that Park has, for example, embraced Anders Behring Breivik murdering more than 70 young members of the Social Democratic Party in Norway.
Lars Vilks in discussion with Ingrid Carlqvist, who is famous for denying Holocaust and spreading conspiracy theories about Muslims.
A PiS-government controlled museum.
According to sociologist Rafal Pankowski, who also chairs the anti-racist organization “Never Again” (Nigdy Wiecej), the PiS government controls the museum, using cultural policy to spread far-right ideas and propaganda. He argues that the current Polish government is subsidizing far-right ideas via art and cultural exhibitions.
Pankowski states that, ironically, the museum was a respected art center famous for showing critical art exhibitions. While today, the museum is seen as being something “right-wing”.
Sweden is “politically correct,” while Poland is “a free country.”
Piotr Bernatowicz, the chief at Centrum Sztuki Współczesnej in Warszawa, argues, among other things, that Poland is a “free country”, the political left is intolerant, and that Sweden is a politically correct state. The appointment of Bernatowicz at CSW has been met with counterarguments in Poland that the PiS use Bernatowicz to take over control over the cultural and art scene in Poland.
Bernatowicz’s statements are in many ways untrue and absurd. For example, political freedom and respect for democracy and the rule of law have declined in Poland since PiS came into power in 2017. It is true that there are intolerant and populist left-wingers and also that there are intolerant and populist right-wingers as within PiS to whom Bernatowicz is connected. Also, the term “PC” or political correctness is often used selectively and opportunistically, including in order to argue against democracy and human rights.
Screenshot: Opulens. Dan and Piotr at a far-right event organized by neo-nazi Blood and Honour.
Bernatowicz has also stated that Park is a victim of “Swedish political correctness”. Within the exhibition Park has been presented as an “artist and dissident”. This is absurd and even horrible in several ways because Park is openly a racist and neo-nazi person who does not support universal values nor believes in freedom of speech and open societies. Park is supporting ideas of Sweden becoming a dictatorship where only white individuals would be allowed to live.
Public culture as a target for populists and authoritarians
The case of the current Polish government sponsoring and supporting racism, radical nationalism, and far-right ideas in the case of Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art is not an isolated case. It is a part of a general political agenda of the governing PiS party that has already tas taken control over public television and several private newspapers as well as other media and public institutions as in the case of Poland’s Constitutional Court. Therefore, taking over direct control over public cultural institutions is just a smaller part of PiS’s political agenda that is dangerous, undemocratic, and against European constitutionalism and the rule of law.
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