Last week, the Polish Senate passed a law that would make it a criminal offense to claim that Poland was complicit in Nazi crimes. The Israeli government strongly opposed this measure, as do most people who care about honest academic discourse. Nevertheless, the measure was passed and now awaits the signature of the president to become law.

When I caught up with my guest today, Monika Mazur-Rafał, Poland’s lower house had recently passed the measure, and as Monika explains the public debate and discourse about it was heavily colored by invocations of ethnic nationalism and hate speech.

Monika is the director of Humanity in Action-Poland, which is an organization that seeks to promote pluralism and cosmopolitan values. As she explains, the use of hate speech around this particular public debate is just one manifestation of a trend that has increased sharply in recent years.

In fact a public survey, which Monika describes in detail, finds that Polish people’s exposure to hate speech has increased dramatically with the coming to power of the far right wing Law and Justice party. She explains that dynamic, and the relationship between anti-semitism, homophobia, islamophobia and racism and the electoral success of the ruling Law and Justice Party.

Credit: “CONTEMPT SPEECH, HATE SPEECH Report from research on verbal violence
against minority groups” from the Stefan Batory Foundation

Needless to say, there are some interesting and disturbing parallels to what is happening in Poland and what happened during the 2016 election in the United States. Finally, Monika explains what organizations like Humanity in Action are doing to counter this trend.

If you have 20 minutes and want to learn why hate speech is on the rise in Poland, and why that matters to world affairs, then have a listen.

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