Lech Walesa vs. Madonna

In his early 1980s heyday, Polish trade unionist Lech Walesa led a major strike against a corrupt regime that perpetuated something best described as a parody of socialism. Today, though, he seems to be increasingly fighting against windmills. The strictly Catholic ex-president’s latest object of objection is Madonna’s live appearance in Warsaw on 15th August, where the Like A Prayer star is scheduled to play a show to 70,000 Polish fans.

It just so happens that the 15th of August is both a Catholic and a national holiday: Poles are supposed to celebrate the Virgin Mary’s assumption as well as a 1920 military victory against the Red Army. Reason enough for nationalist-catholic politician Marian Brudzynski, leader of the rightwing ‘Committee for the Protection of Faith and National Traditions Pro Polonia, to step up and start a campaign against Madonna’s smut. In his view, the singer is a “pervert” and an “anti-Virgin Mary” and her concerts are “neo-pagan spectacles”. In an interview with daily paper Dziennik, Lech Walesa gave the campaign his full support.

This is not the first time that Madonna, who was brought up a Catholic, faces opposition from the Christian right: earlier this year, Orthodox clerics attempted to stop her from performing at the Winter Palais in St. Petersburg. This was in order to prevent the “defilement” of Alexander Column, a nearby monument capped by the statue of an angel with a cross.

To mess with the Orthodox Church, which, like neo-fascism, has been steadily gaining influence since the massive decline of living standards in mid 90s Russia, may indeed not be the wisest choice for the multi-millionaire pop star. In Poland, meanwhile, Brudzynski’s campaign hasn’t met with much resonance from the authorities. Not one to give up easily, Brudzynski announced that daily prayers against the Madonna concert will be held in front of Warsaw town hall. I pray these people will never have any say in anything – in Poland or elsewhere.



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