What We Can Learn From Poland

- - Nelson Lewis

I can hardly turn on my Facebook these days without hearing something about a terrorist attack in Europe on my newsfeed.  Paris.  Manchester.  London.  Munich.  It’s awful, because they’re so frequent that it’s easy to become numb to them.  Most of these seem to have one thing in common: they’re being carried out by Muslim extremists, and have skyrocketed since refugees began arriving from Syria.  Almost every country in Europe has been hit by terrorist attacks, with one notable exception: Poland.

Poland has had a history of fending off Muslim invasions since 1683, when

Polish hussars

The armor of the famed “Polish Winged Hussars”, cavalrymen who helped save Europe from the Turks in 1683

their leader, Jan Sobieski, defeated the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Vienna and saved European Christendom from a Muslim invasion.  And it looks like they learned their lesson.  From the start of the refugee crisis, Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party has been enforcing border controls and refusing to let in refugees.  Even if they’ve come under attack from the EU, Poland continues this policy, and according to party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, this stance will continue in light of recent terrorist attacks.  

For the past 350 years or so, Poland has had a long and famous history of getting the short end of the stick.  We all know about the German invasion of Poland in World War II, and but it goes a lot deeper.  The joke many people have is that Poland is the “doormat of Europe” but in modern European history, Poland was more like the jock who peaked in high school before falling on hard times, while the kids it stuffed in lockers went on to become powerful and successful.  From the Middle Ages and up to the 17th century, Poland was the major power in northeastern Europe, freely meddling in the affairs of its weaker neighbors, such as Prussia and Russia.  But after nearly 200 years of being the top dogs, in the 1650s a massive war with Sweden took its toll: Poland lost a third of its population, a good chunk of territory, and their status as a great power.  Since then it was downhill, as the countries Poland used to push around spent the next 250 years carving the country up among themselves.  

But after 350 years of being the doormat of Europe, it looks like Poland is getting its second wind.  And the country has been lucky to avoid terrorist attacks, for obvious reasons.  I’m glad to see that the Polish aren’t just doing well, but teaching the rest of the world a valuable lesson.  If only they would pay attention…

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