Presidential blunder: Former Polish Foreign Minister Adam Daniel
Rotfeld accepts a posthumous Presidential
Medal of Freedom for
Polish resistance fighter Dr. Jan Karski
from President Obama on
Obama’s reference to concentration camps as
‘Polish’ rather than Nazi, has set off a media
firestorm in Poland.
Obama’s ‘Concentration Camp’ Gaffe Has Done Poland a Favor (Rzeczpospolita, Poland)
“Obama's blunder has
been widely circulated - and not only in American media. Because
of all this, the matter of ‘Polish camps’ will be effectively aired. … And
that is a very good thing. One speech from Obama and the reaction has more of a
beneficial impact than a hundred letters of protest from the Polish Foreign
Former Polish resistance fighter Dr. Jan Karski, in a file photo from 1995: In a gesture that was in part meant to further cement Polish-American relations, in awarding Dr. Karski with a postumous Presidential Medal of Freedom, President Obama made a gaffe that may cause significant damage to relations - unless he quickly apologizes, according to Wes Mitchell, president of the Center for European Policy Analysis.
There is no justifying the U.S. president's slip-up speaking
about “Polish death camps.” But chances are that this will be a turning point
in the history of this phrase.
Those who say that the president's gaffe puts him and his speech
writers in a bad light are correct. Unfortunately, unlike those in the past, in
this White House administration there are not as many people who know Poland
and are sensitive to Polish issues.
The National Security Council spokesman has already
apologized. Perhaps the president himself will do so, but I wouldn't wait for
one with bated breath. It would be a very rare case - and not only in American
history. Heads of state don’t apologize as a matter of principle.
The debate about “Polish concentration camps” has been going
on for years. Its sources go back to the unfavorable image Poles have had in
the United States for well over a hundred years. This image has decidedly improved
over the last decade - thanks to our engagement with America in the anti-terrorism
campaign, thanks to the membership in NATO and the E.U., and thanks to our
The improved image is visible to anyone who knows America.
So called “Polish jokes” have all but disappeared from American media, although
one does encounter them from time to time. Similarly in Poland, “Russian jokes,”
so popular some time ago, are out of circulation.
Obama's blunder has been widely circulated - and not only in
American media. Because of all this, the matter of “Polish camps” will be effectively
And that is a very good thing. One speech from Obama and the
reaction has more of a beneficial impact than a hundred letters of protest from
the Polish Foreign Ministry, or to newspapers and TV stations.
Posted by Worldmeets.US
So let us not make this event into a catastrophe. Let's not get
hysterical. And above all - if we want the U.S. president to show some class,
let us not forget about it ourselves. When [Law and Justice Party lawmaker] RyszardCzarnecki calls the U.S. president an ignoramus, he
once again shows that with his skills, he is as far from being a diplomat as an
“Oldie” [a gangster soccer fan] is from being head of the Polish Football
Association. Czarnecki should also remember that top
politicians from his party have had their share of blunders and missteps, too.