Did you hear the one about the insufferable president who refused to apologize for an offensive gaffe?
The White House on Wednesday shrugged off Polish demands to express more than mere ‘regret’ after President Barack Obama mistakenly referred to a Nazi Holocaust site as a “Polish death camp.”
“We regret the misstatement, but that is what it was,” said Obama spokesman Jay Carney, reiterating that the president “misspoke” during a ceremony awarding the highest US civilian honor to late Holocaust hero Jan Karski.
“He was referring to Nazi death camps in German-occupied Poland.”
Poland had earlier insisted that Washington must do more than simply express the “regret” offered by another White House spokesman late on Tuesday, hours after Obama’s use of words deemed offensive by Warsaw.
Obama’s verbal slip overshadowed his posthumous award of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Karski, a Polish underground officer who provided the Allies with early eyewitness accounts of Nazi genocide against European Jews.
Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Obama’s words had hurt all Poles and he expected more from Washington than just regret.
“I am convinced that our American friends can today allow themselves a stronger reaction than a simple expression of regret from the White House spokesman — a reaction more inclined to eliminate once and for all these kinds of errors,” Tusk told reporters in Warsaw.
“Today, this is a problem for the reputation of the United States,” the prime minister said.
Members of Poland’s Jewish community — including the country’s Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich — said in a statement that: “We expect President Barack Obama to personally correct his words.”
Poland’s President Bronislaw Komorowski said meanwhile he had sent a letter to Obama “counting on (…) cooperation in correcting this unfortunate error” which “I am certain in no way reflects the thoughts or views of our American friend.”
Obama evidently neglected his history studies during that famous Ivy League education of his:
In 1933 approximately nine million Jews lived in the 21 countries of Europe that would be occupied by Germany during the war. By 1945 two out of every three European Jews had been killed. Although Jews were the primary victims, hundreds of thousands of Roma (Gypsies) and at least 250,000 mentally or physically disabled persons were also victims of Nazi genocide.
As Nazi tyranny spread across Europe from 1933 to 1945, millions of other innocent people were persecuted and murdered. More than three million Soviet prisoners of war were killed because of their nationality. Poles, as well as other Slavs, were targeted for slave labor, and as a result, almost two million perished. Homosexuals and others deemed “anti-social” were also persecuted and often murdered. In addition, thousands of political and religious dissidents such as communists, socialists, trade unionists, and Jehovah’s Witnesses were persecuted for their beliefs and behavior and many of these individuals died as a result of maltreatment.
The concentration camp is most closely associated with the Holocaust and remains an enduring symbol of the Nazi regime. The first camps opened soon after the Nazis took power in January 1933; they continued as a basic part of Nazi rule until May 8, 1945, when the war, and the Nazi regime, ended.
Obama’s remarks were insensitive, at best. The fact is, from 1939 and 1945, almost six million Poles were killed during the Nazi occupation of their country. More than half of them were Jewish and they, in turn, made up half of the six million European Jews who died during the Holocaust. Scores were killed in death camps set up by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland, including the most infamous, Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Remember Obama’s speech in Strasbourg in April of 2009?
Later, President Obama told an audience in Strasbourg that the US and Europe had allowed the alliance to drift in recent years.
He said the US had been “arrogant” and “dismissive” towards its allies, while there was “insidious” anti-Americanism in Europe. He said these attitudes had to change.
“I’ve come to Europe this week to renew our partnership – one in which America listens and learns from our friends and allies. But where our friends and allies bear their share of the burden,” he said.
How can Europe be expected to take us seriously with a putz like this in the White House?
You know what the worst part of this whole “Presidential gaffe” is? It took place at the Medal of Freedom Awards where Obama was attempting to honor Jan Karski, the late Polish resistance hero who famously tried to warn the world about the atrocities being committed by Nazis against Jews in the ghettos and death camps of Nazi-occupied Poland during the Second World War.
A presidential apology is more than called for.
However, the “Lightbringer” will not be offering one anytime soon. After all, he’s always the smartest person in the room.