Big mistake: President Obama marred his White House ceremony last Tuesday evening, during which he presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Bob Dylan, Madeline Albright, and other notables, with three fateful words: “Polish death camps.” These he uttered while awarding that medal to a representative of the now-deceased Jan Kozielewski, who during World War II actually had himself smuggled into and then out of the Warsaw ghetto and one of those death camps in order to report to the rest of the world what was going on there. Yes, they were “death camps,” but they were “Polish” only to the extent of being located in Poland. A better adjective is “Nazi” since they were set up, owned, run and operated by Hitler’s regime.
Poles around the world, most especially Polish government representatives, were distinctly displeased by the President’s remarks. No surprise, then, that one of the leading Polish papers, Gazeta Wyborcza, has put out a run-down of what has been done – and not done – in their wake, apology-wise:
Translation: “White House: It was a mistake. We have apologized. And so on.” As in: “So don’t bother us about this anymore.” Yes, there is a palpable sub-text here of the American authorities trying to run away from the controversy, trying to downplay it. Why? Because this is an election year, silly, and so any (alleged) Obama error is sure to be pounced upon by the opposition. (more…)