When I tell people where my fiancé is from, I proudly recall that Churchill mentioned her hometown in his famous Iron Curtain Speech. Her town of birth, Szczecin, was once a part of Germany—and the northern end of Churchill’s Iron Curtain. If you wander through its streets you’ll see German buildings and, sometimes, German tourists.
It’s a city and country that’s filled with history. This was brought to the fore when my fiancé’s friend mentioned that they had dug up some human bones in their backyard. They informed the proper authorities and someone came to investigate. Coins, amongst other things, were found and the authorities came to the conclusion that the house and neighborhood had been built on an old Jewish graveyard. In Poland history is ever present, never past, as it were. And though it’s not always as obvious, the same goes for the world.
Indeed, with Trump’s speech in Warsaw—one filled with kind words for Poland’s populist right wing government and dangerous platitudes about a civilizational struggle—we have an example of history repeating itself—or at least rhyming. No, not the history that Trump and his ilk espouse. That one is full of ignorance, even if it’s an ignorance that, one assumes, helps them sleep. It’s a history so filled with lies that one has to assume, as the saying goes, that they want to be doomed to repeat it.
Before Trump was elected, my fiancé’s friend talked about her own government and how they were shocked that someone this farcical could win and enact such horrible laws. At the time, in Poland, there was talk about a law banning abortion in all cases. A sense of helplessness prevailed, especially since their media was ignoring the protests. But the friend and many other brave women protested—were ill-behaved, as it were—and managed to get that law revoked.
And so when a rentier and con artist speaks of civilizational struggles, be wary or at least hold on to your wallet. The only civilizational struggle is the one against the right and their everlasting plan to punch down with that familiar weaponization of the “other” used so effectively in the past. The quicker we understand that, the quicker we can counteract a movement built on hate, a movement that aims to misuse history for their own nefarious purposes and doom us to repeat the very mistakes they concern troll about.
And those women who protested in Poland, not the government or the speeches given by Trump, are among the many—Black Lives Matter included—whom we must use as inspiration, if only to lift this curtain which will lead to more evil in the future. The values of our civilization, our humanity, require it.
Nelson Lowhim is a veteran and writer. He is the author of many novels, short stories and essays to include CityMuse, The Struggle, 1000001 American Nights and the Labyrinth of Souls. You can find more about him and his work at nelsonlowhim.blogspot.com. Follow him on Twitter @nlowhim.