If in doubt, launch an enemy.
That was the tactic the Communists took over Poland after World War II and used it to continue ruling when they ousted the Jews to prevent the Poles from rebelling against their rule. And the Conservative Law and Justice team, which has ruled Poland since 2015, is affecting the same playbook, experts say.
Led by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Law and Justice - also known as the Polish acronym, PiS - has found new enemies that will rebuild its solid foundation while pushing Poland to the right and undermining democratic institutions and judges in a country that once was a beacon of freedom. In Eastern Europe, experts say.
Homosexuals, immigrants, women's rights activists - they all found themselves demon possessed by the Polish government, according to Sebastian Rejak of the American Jewish Committee and other government analysts.
Polish Prime Minister in Testy E.U. the exchange of the rule of law
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"Discrimination may start with the Jews, but not with the Jews," he said. “If some are targeted, the Jews, sooner or later, will also be corrected. So we stand up for what we know is right. ”
He said the Law and Justice was not cut in the same vein as antisemitic as the communist party that cleansed Polish Jews in 1968, but found support in parts of Polish society where discrimination against Jews continued.
More recently, desperate Muslim migrants trapped between the Polish-Belarus border have become a political minority in a power struggle for Law and Justice as it seeks to strengthen its support. Hundreds of migrants hid in the forests at the border and faced cold conditions. Many are reported dead.
Poland and the Baltic states, as well as the European Commission, argue that Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko created the problem as a reward for criticizing his dictatorial regime by allowing migrants hoping to reach Western Europe to cross Belarus and cross its border into E.U. neighboring regions.
Polish Border Guards Stand Firm With Belarusian Fellows Regarding Border Refugees
A refugee reads the Quran while sitting with other Polish border guards and Belarusian troops in Usnarz Gorny, Poland.NurPhoto via Getty Images file
But critics say Law and Justice has also used the issue to show its Roman Catholic foundation as a "Christian stronghold" that protects the country from Muslims.
In an apparent attempt to eradicate xenophobic sentiment, last month Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski unveiled a photo of a man who was cheating on a cow he said came from a cellphone taken from a migrant who had tried to enter Poland.
TVP, a state-sponsored television station that critics claim to serve as the ruling party's propaganda, quickly blew up its claim with the headline: "He raped a cow and wanted to enter Poland? Details about immigrants at the border."
That attempt to pollute the immigrants was put in place when the image did not appear to belong to a migrant but was followed by a zoophilia sex film widely available on the web - and involving a horse and not a cow, many media reports have reported.
But Chemski's move was so shocking to the Polish public that he received strange criticism from the powerful Roman Catholic Church, which had been marching with the ruling party.
"The situation of immigrants is not new," said Sarian Jarosz of Amnesty International, which monitors human rights at the border. "In 2015, there was another crisis in Europe. However, the migrants were far away, not at our border."
"Even then the PiS government was building an external 'enemy' and wanting to come to us would hurt us," he added.
In fact, the issue of Syrians fleeing the country's destructive civil war and flooding into Europe in 2015 helped advance the rule of law and justice - Kaczynski had vowed to protect the border against Muslim immigrants, who identified themselves as "all parasites and protozoa." , or Islamic law, and use the Catholic churches as "toilets."
"What they want is power, and fear is a great motivator," said Alexander Storozynski, a Polish American American activist and journalist who won the Pulitzer Prize and author.
"If you have an enemy you are more determined to fight. They make people afraid of the 'other' and they use tactics like communists," said Storozynski, who met Kaczynski and other dignitaries. Law and Justice officials over the years.