Posts Tagged ‘Gulag Archipelago’
June 4th, 2012 at 1:00 pm
Obama’s Walesa Snub Puts Liberals to the Test
Posted by Print

American liberals need to be thinking abut 1975. That was the year that President Gerald Ford denied Russian dissident and staunch anti-communist Alexander Solzhenitsyn an audience at the White House, a snub to all those who defended freedom against the depredations of the Soviet Union throughout the world.

Despite the fact that Ford was a Republican president (albeit an unelected one), the conservative movement (to its credit) disowned him on the issue. By the following year, the indignity that Ford forced upon the author of The Gulag Archipelago was one of the many reasons that conservatives were looking to deny the incumbent president renomination. So why is this germane to liberals? Because of this passage, courtesy of Matthew Kaminski at the Wall Street Journal, which Tim also highlighted in his column last week:

Among this year’s 13 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Mr. Obama posthumously honored Jan Karski. As a member of the Polish underground during World War II, Karski was the first to provide eyewitness evidence of the Nazi extermination of Jews in occupied Europe…

The Poles wanted Lech Walesa to receive the medal on Karski’s behalf, but the White House nixed the choice. Last year, during Mr. Obama’s visit to Poland, the hero of Solidarity refused to attend a large gathering to meet the younger leader. Mr. Walesa felt entitled to a tete-a-tete. Administration officials told Polish journalists that Mr. Walesa’s presence was too “political” for this week’s occasion. Poles read something else into it: Mr. Obama holds grudges.

Lech Walesa was leading the fight for the freedom of  the Polish people back when Barack Obama was still sashaying around his New York apartment in a sarong, scribbling pretentious, adolescent musings to one of his composite girlfriends. Walesa deserved the one-on-one in Poland. And he deserved the stage in the East Room of the White House last week for the Medal of Freedom Ceremony.

As for Barack Obama, he deserves the rebuke of all those who esteem freedom, but especially his fellow liberals. If they can’t bring themselves to have a moment similar to the one conservatives had in 1975 — one in which principle trumps partisanship — they will have revealed their supposed affection for human rights to be little more than election year pablum.