How Right-Wing Media Pounced On Obama's 'Polish Death Camp' Gaffe
Poles and Polish-Americans expressed outrage today at President Obama's reference earlier to "a Polish death camp" -- as opposed to a Nazi death camp in German-occupied Poland.
"The White House will apologize for this outrageous error," Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski tweeted. Sikorski said that Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk "will make a statement in the morning. It's a pity that this important ceremony was upstaged by ignorance and incompetence."
The president had been trying to honor a famous Pole, awarding a Presidential Medal of Freedom to Jan Karski, a resistance fighter who sneaked behind enemy lines to bear witness to the atrocities being committed against Jews. President Obama referred to him being smuggled "into the Warsaw ghetto and a Polish death camp to see for himself."
National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement, "The President was referring to Nazi death camps operated in Poland. The President has demonstrated in word and deed his rock-solid commitment to our close alliance with Poland." ...
The right-wingers who want to argue that this is some sort of uniquely Obama-esque gaffe need to know that, for better or worse, this happens all the time. Here's a 2009 story at Poland.com:
American broadcaster CNN has apologized Poland for using a phrase "polish death camps" during their Tuesday's report of "March of the living" in Auschwiz-Birkenau.
Using words "polish death camps" on information strip during other news CNN joined a large group of broadcasters. Similar phrases were used by ABC News, CBS News and newspapers New York Times, Die Welt and The Guardian. Especially distasteful is the usage of phrase by the German newspaper.
Also republican senator Sam Brownback from Kansas used a phrase "polish concentration camp" while speaking in Congress about the film telling the story of Irena Sendlerowa. Poles demand a disclaimer in Congress from him.
Wow -- even a Republican has done this!
Also guilty of this have been Ha'aretz, USA Today, the L.A. Times, the Chicago Tribune, The Daytona Beach News-Journal, the Associated Press, The Buffalo News, Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper and broadcaster CTV, The Toronto Star, and the British comedian Stephen Fry. And that's just a list of people and organizations that have been reproached for it.
Oh, one more: Fox News.
Yes, it would have been better if the administration had avoided the gaffe, but it's quite a common gaffe.