EDITOR’S NOTE: General Tadeusz Kościuszko (b. 1746) was a hero in the struggle for Polish-Lithuanian independence from Russian and Prussian partition, as well as in the American Revolutionary War on the side of the victorious colonists. Radio Free Krakow, an extremely real and serious broadcasting network, recently managed to gain an exclusive interview with him.
RADIO FREE KRAKOW: General, what do you make of the situation in Poland today?
KOŚCIUSZKO: I could be honest, or I could be diplomatic.
RFK: Well, you could be honest, sir, since you would probably be exempt from criticism.
KOŚCIUSZKO: I wouldn’t be too sure. One or two people might consider me a zdrajca if I said what I really think.
RFK: About what, General?
KOŚCIUSZKO: About the way this government is isolating Poland in the international arena.
RFK: But isn’t Poland bravely fighting its corner against foreign misinformation?
KOŚCIUSZKO: And alienating all of its former allies in the process.
RFK: Sometimes you have to be unpopular to prove a point.
KOŚCIUSZKO: Before we go any further, may I ask if you are funded by this government?
RFK: Please, General. We are totally independent of this government.
KOŚCIUSZKO: I’m happy to hear it. To prove a point, you say. What point is this government trying to prove?
RFK: That Poland is being unfairly maligned by certain phrases, mostly by foreign journalists.
KOŚCIUSZKO: So the idea then, is to prevent repetition of these phrases by the foreign press by framing a new law expressly designed for the purpose. That has turned out to be a great success, hasn’t it? Even The Washington Post has used the phrase, although quotation marks were added to show that they were not being deliberately offensive.
RFK: But don’t you agree that something needed to be done?
KOŚCIUSZKO: Actually, I do. But more of an effort needed to be put into telling the real story of what happened, including light and shade, instead of trying to muzzle criticism. The government, in trying to present a positive picture of Poland, has instead opened a Pandora’s box. There was already a law in existence which they could have applied with a little ingenuity. But how do you legislate for respect?
RFK: Don’t you think, sir, that the reaction worldwide has been a little OTT?
KOŚCIUSZKO: Forgive me, what is “OTT”?
RFK: Over the top.
KOŚCIUSZKO: There are people out there with guilty consciences. It suits them to try to heap all of the blame on Poland. It deflects from their own inaction at the time in question.
RFK: What do you think this government should do?
KOŚCIUSZKO: Personally, I think they should put out a carefully-worded statement, explaining their intentions, but expressing regret that their friends should have been offended. But they could also point out that existing laws could be applied to combat these phrases. Diplomacy at the highest level is called for.
RFK: Is there anything else you would like to add, General?
KOŚCIUSZKO: Yes. The Krakow Post should stop running fake interviews.