Look, I’m not claiming the credit for the “Wrocław for everyone without hate” parade and should be carried shoulder-high through the streets of Wrocław. That should go to the many hard-working people I’ve met over the past week. I’m just saying that, last November I wrote that we need a Wrocław coalition against fascism, and somewhere, I can’t remember where but I think it was on this blog’s Facebook page that I said that the first action could be a protest against hate crimes.
This is, of course, a coincidence. Literally no-one reads this blog. In fact, this blog has minus reader figures. I’m just saying that, behind this bluster and oh-so-western opinions, sometimes, just sometimes I am right.
Sometimes in a bad way. (See this article from November 2011 and this one from a few weeks ago.) Sometimes, as shown yesterday, in a good way. Therefore perhaps, just perhaps you should mark my next words:
The parade was excellent. There were tons of people, maybe as much as 2000 people. There was an excellent mood. It was well colourful, well creative and contained some excellent music. Passers-by saw us having fun. We needed a positive kick to our system following the fascist activities of the few years. The PR beforehand was very good. It was excellent to see NGOs and small businesses get behind us.
Some have complained about the presence of a few people with covered faces among us. To tell the truth, I was somewhat wary of the reaction to them, but when one remembers the brutal violence of fascists towards initiatives like ours, I felt somewhat comforted to see them. Some people however don’t know much about anti-fascist action (which was a part of the parade, despite its emphasis on a positive message) or are less comfortable with confrontation than myself, and were put off. It didn’t help that they were at the front of the parade. Saying that, I repeat that I myself was glad to see them. It was unfortunate that some of them reacted to the clearly drunk and confused four nationalists who followed us, giving them the attention they wanted.
The future of Wrocław anti-fascism is dependent on dealing with a few issues: Will the coalition continue? Will it enlarge its target audience to meet those who are not even aware of problems with discrimination in Wrocław? With active Christians? People over 35 (who were there, but were a minority)? Such issues, as well as that of racism in Polish society, lack of civic intervention when hate crimes are witnessed or the high profile role of violence in Polish culture are big issues.
Still, this was just a start. Mistakes are to be made, and learned from. I repeat, the parade was excellent. I reckon the parade will be like a demonstration I attended in Birmingham in 1998.
You see, about 70,000 people (including myself) went to Birmingham in May 1998 to protest against the economic policies of the G7, specifically for the cancellation of debt owed by Global South countries. These people were largely apolitical people, or least, not the kind of people who were normally politically active. This contained many Christians. They came, saw many people with the same concerns, felt more powerful, went home, and got politically active on an international as well as local levels. Birmingham 1998 was a big kick-start for us.
Yesterday was on a smaller scale than Birmingham, but contained many who hadn’t been to such events before. I believe that Wrocław 2013 will play a kick-start role for them, as well as for us more seasoned activists. We can’t rely on politicians. It’s up to us to push on.
Thanks to all those who attended! See you again (and again, and again, and again…..)