BY EFFIE DEANS
How many people who are delivering their daughters to Oxford University are a threat to national security? I can think of no such dad’s pulling up to the college in their estate cars packed with clothes and computers blowing themselves up at the gates to our dreaming spires waking them from their slumbers with cries of Jesus is merciful. Good Catholics have not been a threat to national security since Guy Fawkes.
Rafal Ziemkiewicz a popular conservative writer from Poland was recently prevented from entering the UK in a situation that resembled Kafka’s Trial. He was not sure what he was accused of. He met merely polite obscurantism from the border officials. He had committed no crime either in Britain or in Poland, but was left unable to accompany his daughter to Oxford just because someone, who knows whom, had denounced him.
There was minimal coverage of this event in the British press. I searched for what he was supposed to have done but it was as if I saw through a glass darkly so thick was the smoke and so distorting were the mirrors.
I discovered that Rafal had planned to talk to some Poles in London a couple of years ago, but that some left-wing Poles had complained about him and involved Rupa Huq MP. The police got involved and the meeting didn’t happen. Rafal thought no more about it until he was prevented from going with his wife and daughter to Oxford.
He is accused of being far-right, but in fact his views are simply those of a mainstream conservative in Poland. Rafal is a best-selling author. Probably the most famous journalist in Poland. His books top the best-seller list. If he is far-right then we can assume that most Poles are far-right and that the Polish Government is far-right too. Perhaps we should ban all Poles from coming to Britain.
Rafal as accused of Holocaust denial on the basis of one sentence mentioning the myth of the Holocaust. But this was in a book that extensively dealt with the reality of the Holocaust and which denied none of the accepted events which occurred.
If I write about the myth of Dunkirk and the way that it has been used in British history to create a story about little boats rescuing our army, this does not mean that I deny the historical events, it simply means that I am questioning a popular interpretation of these events. By questioning popular interpretations of historical events, we are more likely to arrive at truth. So Rafal far from denying anything is seeking to view the events of the Holocaust with the eyes of a historian. For this he should be commended rather than condemned.
The banning of Rafal from Britain is undoubtedly due to the actions of Rupa Huq. She may shrug her shoulders and say “nothing to do with me Gov” but how else did he get on some secret blacklist. It wasn’t because the British border force monitors Polish newspapers and bestselling books on politics and history.
But let’s look at the beam in Rupa Huq’s eye compared to the mote in Rafal’s. Huq wants Shamima Begum to be allowed to return to Britain from Syria in order to face whatever charges she might face. Quite possibly none. Begum married an Isis terrorist and was allegedly involved with Isis in Syria. Who is more of a threat to Britain a middle-aged Polish writer or an Isis supporter? Has Rupa Huq ever suggested that a Muslim should be excluded from coming to Britain? Did she side with the teacher who had to go into hiding because he showed a picture of Muhammad to his class? This poor teacher is not threatened by anyone from Poland.
We have in Britain many fundamentalist Muslims some of whom may believe that homosexuality is sinful or that people who cease to be Muslims should be killed as apostates, but Huq condemns none of these people and does not wish to exclude any of them. On the contrary she opposes any attempt to limit immigration into Britain and puts no one on a blacklist unless he is a Polish Catholic.
Rafal is a traditional Catholic. He follows the teaching of the church. What he believes about homosexuality and transgender is shared by the majority of Polish Catholics and also by the Pope. Should we have excluded the Pope from coming to Glasgow because he believes that God created us man and woman and that homosexual practices are sinful? This does not of course mean that Rafal would treat transgender or homosexual people any different from any other person. The church also teaches that we must love sinners, care for them and treat them with dignity. This after all is the message of the story of the woman who was a sinner. Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.
Anyone who sees the video that Rafal produced about this case will see that this is a good kind man who is unusually intelligent. He is a top-class writer and so he thinks for himself and tries to be original. In order to reach truth, we need sometimes to be polemical. We need to use reductio ad absurdum arguments such as that if it is right to call death camps Polish it is equally right to call them Jewish because the Jews were inside of them. But anyone who knows logic realises that this is a way of saying that they were neither Jewish camps nor Polish, but rather Nazi.
Rafal is a writer similar to the British journalist Douglas Murray. He says things that are a little controversial, because if we are always scared to speak our minds then we end up with thin gruel and grey mush that is merely boring and which says nothing. But this makes neither Rafal nor Murray bad people and it certainly makes them no threat to anyone.
We have a large Polish community in Britain. I am aware of zero terrorist attacks that were committed by Poles. So too in Poland there is an almost zero threat from terrorists. The likelihood of anyone from Poland coming to Britain to be subversive is miniscule not least because no one would understand this subversiveness as it would be committed in a language which to most British people amounts to a string of random consonants joined together with some shushing sounds.
Rupa Huq is happy for anyone to arrive in Britain from a rubber dinghy without any checks whatsoever. She is happy for supporters of terrorism be it Isis Hamas or even the IRA to arrive here unhindered, but a Polish intellectual writer who has never committed a crime, who is a member of no far-right organisation and who has never expressed any hostility to Britain or its people is excluded from our country on the basis of rumour and unsubstantiated accusation. She is happy see him excluded.
Most people who are excluded from Britain are genuinely dangerous, either because they are criminals or because they support ideologies that may genuinely influence people who are here. Rafal is no threat to anyone. He is merely excluded because he makes up the numbers. It is the equivalent of searching little old white ladies at the airport because we must demonstrate we don’t think Muslims are any more likely to be terrorists than anyone else. It is this dishonesty that Rafal fights with his writing. It is because of this dishonesty that he could not take his daughter to Oxford.
The excellent Effie Deans writes at Lily of St. Leonard’s here.