On 8 May 2019 in Warsaw, we held a debate on the politics of hate and attacks in the public sphere in Poland.
The attendance success of the event exceeded our expectations — the audience, including media representatives, numbered around 100 people, leaving the 50-seat hall bursting at the seams. We apologise most sincerely for any inconvenience this caused, but hope that this was compensated for by the substantive value of the debate.
The event began with a minute’s silence in memory of Professor Karol Modzelewski, whose funeral took place on the same day. It was opened by Bartosz Kramek, who then handed the floor over to the moderators, Jacek Szymanderski and Asia Cuper. The debate, with two-panel discussions, featured:
– street activists Beata Geppert and Magda “Ruda” Klim,
– MP and media expert Kornelia Wróblewska,
– lawyers, Jarosław Kaczyński and Agata Stacewicz,
– former TVP employee Piotr Owczarski
and Chairwoman of the “Niezapominajka” Foundation Ilona Felicjańska and ZNP activist Edyta Gheribi.
Speakers from the audience included Arek Szczurek, Bogusław Stanisławski, Mariusz Malinowski and Krzysztof Boczek.
During the discussion, we recalled high-profile cases of hate speech in recent years, searched for its roots, analysed the condition of the tabloid media, and engaged in some chest-beating, pointing to instances of aggression and contempt, including on our, conventionally, civic-opposition side of the barricades. We also did not forget, of course, the unprecedented, institutionalised campaign being conducted by the current ruling camp against groups it perceives as a threat or as politically useful objects of attack.
In this context, we tried to find effective possibilities for social activists, who are particularly affected by such measures to counter and defend themselves against attacks.
The complexity of the topic under discussion means that we are unable to summarise it today. Perhaps, however, the words of Marek Edelman, as quoted by Jacek Szymanderski, may provide some guidance and encouragement for further reflection: “Hatred is easy. Love is difficult and requires sacrifice.”
We saw the debate as a continuation of sorts of the discussion on the conflict between the government and civil society of September 2017 that we held at the National Stadium as part of the OSCE International Conference.
For the photos, we thank the reliable Marta Bogdanowicz and the East News agency.
We would like to thank all participants and supporters. See you at the next events.