I am well aware that many voters choose us as 'the white men's last hope.' This is what Jarosław Gowin, a prominent politician of the Civic Platform (PO), pronounced last Sunday in an interview for Onet.pl. Or rather white collars', he hastened to explain. Our core voters, that is the young, educated and entrepreneur-minded, may turn their backs on us unless we finally reform the state finances, healthcare or pensions.
The journalist did not go into details over the notion of 'white men' and its racist connotations. Instead, he asked what would happen, if white collars indeed turned their backs on the ruling party. The answer was as follows: To me, entrepreneurs are the salt of the earth, the most valuable social group. Should we disappoint them, we would better look for another job.
Should it be shocking? Jarosław Gowin smoothly combines Catholic and free market fundamentalism. He is widely known to be a free market hawk even within the largely pro-market Civic Platform. He is also famous for a virtually superhuman ability, since he once confessed to having heard the cries of frozen embryos. (Gowin is the author of a draft law regulating IVF. He wants IVF to stay basically legal, but would penalise the freezing of embryos.) The public may be thus used to extravagant statements on his part. None the less, I find the lack of public reaction to what he said surprising. To date, obviously racist statements by even marginal politicians did not go either unnoticed or uncondemned in the media. This time, only the nationalist "Nasz Dziennik" seems to bother; perhaps they envy Gowin for his impunity?
Why this silence? Gowin seems nothing wrong in figuring his voters as 'white men.' For him, apparently, it is just an innocent figure of speech. I think most of the enlightened public would not concede. But one thing is that he uses a racial metaphor, another -- what is the group who is to be hurt. If Civic Platform supporters are to be seen as 'white men,' who are those 'non-white' people to whom he implicitly refers? Who are those who would be less than happy with a next wave of neo-liberal reforms? And why are they figured as non-white?