Poland has the experience of centuries with being overrun from both the west and the east. The Poles, faced with the current migrant crisis, are taking no chances.
In their national election in October, they handed the conservative Law and Justice Party a mandate to form a new government. The migrant crisis was a major issue in the campaign: voters opposed the old government’s accommodating migrant policy in overwhelming numbers.
Just after the attacks in Paris on 11/13, the party’s leadership repudiated the promise of the previous government to accept 4,500 migrants as Poland’s share of an EU distribution plan.
The new government of Beata Szydlo said it could not accept any more migrants without “security guarantees” – something the EU bureaucracy in Brussels has no realistic means of giving.
Poland will spend the winter tightening border security as well, anticipating a renewed surge of migrants when weather improves in the spring.
But it’s Poland’s dramatic display of national pride and Christian fervor, on the nation’s independence day in November, that is drawing the most attention to the Polish stand. Many people saw the images of the massive crowds that turned out in Warsaw – and other cities across the country – to proclaim a dual message: Polish pride and rejection of unchecked migration from the Islamic south.
Now a video is going viral of the address to a crowd in Warsaw by a young priest, Father Jacek Miedlar. The version of the video embedded here has subtitles in English. (CNS News has a partial transcript here as well.)
The priest’s appeal is remarkable mainly for how I would expect it to resonate with many Christians, throughout the West and beyond. Consider just this one passage:
Leftist and Islamic aggression aimed at everything Christian and national makes us very afraid. … But we’re also afraid that our fear will turn into hatred. And we, as Christians, cannot let this happen. That’s why we, the Christians, want dialogue. But no one wants to talk to us, instead calling us fascists, racists, xenophobes, and infidel dogs. We can never allow this. We don’t want to fight with the hammer of hate they want to push in our hands….We want to fight with the sword of truth. With the sword of love! With the word of the gospel! With the sword that is Jesus Christ, our living Lord and Savior.
Although Father Miedlar doesn’t articulate it in these terms, what he’s doing, in effect, is stating the need for a third-way proposition about the problem posed by Muslim migrants – one that the shackles of political correctness don’t allow to be spoken in Western nations.
Political correctness limits the opposing propositions to basically these two.
Proposition one: The “proper,” liberal, compassionate, “Christian” thing to do is to let in however many Muslims want to come, while making no provision to ensure that the Western peoples can continue living according to their own culture and mores, on every square inch of the territory their nations encompass.
The post-modern Western idea that Western culture must not be defended, lest that result in “discrimination” or a resistance to “diversity,” is insisted upon, even as hundreds of thousands of people who have no intention of adopting Western culture arrive in the cities and towns of Europe.
“Proposition one” thus implies exactly what the Polish demonstrators reject, when they repeat “Gospel, not Koran!” over and over. Proposition one implies that the future will become one of fighting against people who expect to rule the culture with “Koran, not gospel!”
Proposition two: Those who want to continue living as Westerners must therefore reject significant immigration by non-Westerners. That is the only way to defend their culture, since their governments and intellectual leaders quite literally threaten to punish anyone who insists on remaining Western – remaining Polish, French, Czech; Christian, Jewish, agnostic; free to dress, speak, work, live out his faith as Westerners are accustomed to – if someone else says it makes him uncomfortable .
But there’s a third proposition, and Father Miedlar’s address hints at its outline. The proposition is that immigration is contingent on assimilation. This doesn’t mean that Muslims have to become Christians. It means they have to accept that they are moving into a Christian, Western culture, and they will have to respect how the Western Christians live, and not demand that the culture change.
If they want to thrive, they’ll have to accommodate the culture. It will not bow down to them. Women will walk in safety, without being swathed in hijabs or burqas. Gays will be able to live in tolerance and peace. Christians and Jews will proclaim publicly who they are without fear, and with the privileges of respect and freedom. No part of any Western city will be handed over to Muslims to administer in a different way.
Father Miedlar reminds us that giving peaceable Muslims a chance is Christian – and so is living freely as a Christian and not bending the neck to any other yoke.
I can’t speak for Father Miedlar, but speaking for myself, I believe this also: that it is to the mutual honor of Christians and Jews that we have developed from our common heritage the mandate to live in peace with each other. There is a strong strain of ancient anti-Semitism still running through some elements in Europe, and the essential task today is to claim against it the ground of Westernism – freedom, tolerance, consensualism – for the Judeo-Christian worldview that guides us.
Jews are not marginal in this equation; they are an integral part of the Western heritage, and in every essential, what applies to Christians applies to Jews. Neither of us bends the neck to a yoke that voids or overrides our faith. This is the ground on which an immensely costly history of blood and sorrow has enabled us finally to stand, and we must not give it up – especially in America, which founded a nation on the principle that all men are created equal.
In the call of Father Miedlar and the shouts of the Polish crowd, we are not hearing something that needs to be feared. We will only need to fear it if we flee from it, out of concern that political correctness – an empty, impotent shell of denatured Western intellectualism – might find it distasteful.
The truth is this: the only way to ensure that Westerners are fighting for the right things is to stand up and claim what we are fighting for, instead of leaving that task to unsavory fringe elements.
Taking an important cue from Father Miedlar and the Poles, we need to proclaim that third proposition: the one that can let Muslims in, but on the irreducible terms of the Judeo-Christian West.
I urge you to watch the video, and ponder in your heart what you are called to do. This dilemma is coming to America. This astounding migrant crisis is bigger than all of us, and the only way to whittle it down to size is to stop pretending that the complacent premises of Western political correctness have any answers for it. They don’t.
The root problem in this crisis is not Muslims. It’s the leadership of the West. It’s the mindset of political correctness, which dedicates itself to silencing proposition three.
The framework created by propositions one and two is a death sentence for the West. In an existential crisis, that framework has to be broken. If you don’t like the way the Poles are doing that, get in there and say what you do want.
But don’t expect the people who want their Western freedoms to survive to stand by and be paralyzed with fear of someone else’s political displeasure. The Poles have got the most important thing right: this inflection point of history isn’t about hating Muslims or even keeping peaceful Muslims out. It’s about defending the West, and the freedom and heritage that we have a right to, and that no one and nothing else believes in, or will defend.