Polish-American community leaders speak up against illiberalism and threat to democracy in Poland

In stark contrast to the silence of the organized Hungarian diaspora community when faced with the demise of the rule of law in Hungary, one of the largest Polish-American organizations has spoken up in protest against the growing threat of authoritarianism in their country of origin and heritage. We are sharing their letter, addressed to Hillary Clinton, with our readers.  

KOD Polonia USA in Chicago.

KOD Polonia USA in Chicago.

Dear Secretary Clinton,

On behalf of the members of The Committee for the Defense of Democracy – KOD Polonia USA, we are writing today to express our disappointment in the recent displays of hostility toward you by certain organizations and individuals within the Polish-American community in response to President Clinton’s comments regarding the ongoing threat to democracy in Poland. Specifically, we take issue with the May 18, 2016 letter issued by President Frank Spula of the Polish-American Congress accusing President Clinton of “dishonoring the heritage” of Polish-Americans, as well as those who protested your May 19, 2016 campaign event in Park Ridge, Illinois.

Many of us in the Polish-American community share the concern voiced by President Clinton – and also by the Obama administration, Senators from both parties, the European Commission, numerous non-governmental organizations, and every former President of Poland – that the actions of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party constitute a serious threat to democracy and civil society. The current regime’s open defiance of Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal and its disregard for freedom of the press, enhanced and uncontrolled surveillance powers, and other policies threaten to erode or even undo the democratic progress for which generations of Poles have struggled and given their lives. Indeed, it is not the critics of the regime, but the regime itself that “dishonors the heritage” of Poland’s struggle for freedom.

Within Poland and the Polish-American community there is a vibrant pro-democracy movement that uses civic action and diplomacy to urge Poland’s leaders to cease their attacks on democratic institutions. Poland’s Committee for the Defense of Democracy (KOD) has gained the support of millions of Poles since its formation in late 2015 and has on several occasions shown its popular support with hundreds of thousands of protesters on the streets of Warsaw and other cities. KOD Polonia USA is KOD’s American affiliate, with thousands of supporters and chapters in more than 15 cities and regions across the U.S.

As members of the Polish-American community, we appreciate those who have made the preservation of democracy in Poland a priority, and who have worked to remind the current leaders in Poland of their obligation to uphold democracy and civil rights. KOD and KOD Polonia USA are staunch proponents of democracy and civil rights for all within Poland and the Polish-American community. We support the efforts of the current administration to encourage democracy in Poland and we are confident that the issue will continue to be a priority in your administration.


KOD Polonia USA

Peter J Wlodarczyk, President

Tom Kokocinski, Vice-President


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