Why does the Guardian continue to employ a far-right, homophobic cartoonist?


(Polish translator Małgorzata Koraszewska contributed to this report)

Andrzej Krauze, a contributing cartoonist for the Guardian Since 1989, is a Brit of Polish origin who, per Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, “helped introduce an intelligence and sophistication into serious British illustration.”

Journalist Francis Wheen has written the following of Krauze at the Guardian:

“whatever [his] subject … his ironic, cosmopolitan intelligence never fails to enlighten…Like all good intellectuals, he keeps Occam’s razor within easy reach, ready to slash through obfuscation and reveal a plain truth in all its simplicity…this remarkable artist has always accepted the duty that is more traditionally assigned to journalists, though many of them prefer to duck the challenge: he speaks truth to power.

But there is another face to this “sophisticated” artist.

In Poland he is reportedly a supporter of the far-right Law and Justice Party (known by the acronym PiS).  PiS is the second largest party in the country and campaigns on the slogan “God, Honour, Fatherland”, and is so homophobic that the party sent out an open letter to voters warning that  homosexuality was a “pathology”.

Interestingly, a Guardian report by Ian Traynor in 2009 was extremely critical of Prime Minister David Cameron’s political relationship the Law and Justice Party, and characterized the party as “paranoid towards the outside world”, with “ingrained prejudice and discrimination towards homosexuals” and advocating a “fundamentalist”, militant brand of Catholicism.  And, a 2010 story in the Guardian by Toby Helm described the party as “homophobic” and dangerously nationalistic.  

Further, Dr. Rafal Pankowski, an analyst on extremist activity in Poland, argued that the Law and Justice Party is heading in a far-right direction, a fact he illustrated by noting that “some of its MPs supported a radical nationalist skinhead march in Warsaw” in 2011.

As Małgorzata Koraszewska explained to me, Krauze’s involvement with the Law and Justice Party is not surprising given the content of some of the cartoons he publishes in Poland.  In addition to a few cartoons he’s published promoting conspiracy theories about the tragic 2010 plane crash near Smolensk (which killed Poland’s former president, his wife, and 94 other passengers), there are two cartoons which caused quite a scandal in his country: one (depicting Nigerians as wild, black cannibals) which was considered by many to be racist, and the other, published after a bill was proposed in 2009 to allow same-sex marriages in Poland, is grotesquely homophobic.

Here’s the latter cartoon by Krauze, in the Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita.

1

The words uttered by the man in the cartoon talking to the goat translates to: “Just those two gentlemen will get married and it will be our turn next.

The Guardian, in response to appeals from the Polish gay community demanding that they stop using Krauze’s services, argued that ‘they cannot be responsible for what their cartoonist is doing in his homeland’.

However, Guardian readers and editors weren’t quite so forgiving of the ‘past sins’ argument last year when, as you may recall, Josh Trevino was hired, in Aug. 2012, to provide a conservative perspective on U.S. politics, and then was shortly fired.  Though they cited an unrelated conflict of interest’, it is clear to anyone who followed the row that the Guardian caved to criticism over one Gaza flotilla-related Tweet by Trevino which some claimed was hateful and sanctioned violence.

It’s truly difficult to understand how the “liberal” Guardian could fail to sympathize with those who complain that Krauze’s grotesque characterization of gay sexual intimacy – as somehow morally synonymous with bestiality – legitimizes extreme hatred towards the Polish LGBT community.

9 comments on “Why does the Guardian continue to employ a far-right, homophobic cartoonist?

  1. Adam, you’re typically spot on, but I simply can’t agree with this:
    The Law and Justice party was formerly headed, as you know, by the late (and very lamented) Polish president, Lech Kaczynski. Kaczynski was a great friend to both Israel and the Jewish people, a strident and vociferous opponent of communism and totalitarianism, and was the first post-USSR president to acknowledge his nation’s complicity in the Holocaust, as well as promote Holocaust education in a country keen to repress it(and sometimes secretly proud of it).
    Homophobia, perhaps. Far right? He, and his brother(the successor, Jaroslaw Kaczynski) are anything but!
    I’m sorry to disagree with you this time.
    (Also, the party holds about 1/3 of the Senate, and roughly 1/3 of the Sejm(House of Reps.), meaning it’s not on the fringes).

    • Thanks for your reply. Perhaps my language wasn’t precise enough. However, my argument wasn’t that everyone in the party is far right on every issue, but that, on the issue of gay rights, they are, by any standard, extremely intolerant. But, more central to my point, Krauze’s cartoon about gays is hate speech that would typically be demonized by the Guardian – and so, by their own standards, their affiliation with him is extremely hypocritical.

    • The Polish translator who helped with this report just wrote me to clarify a point about your comment: “Lech Kaczynski, late President, was not the head of PiS. It was his twin brother, Jarosław, who is heading the party until now. Lech Kaczynski was a great friend of Israel and Jews, but not so quite a lot of party members. The party is very careful never to be seen as antisemitic, and I do not think Jaroslaw Kaczyński is an antisemite. However he and he party veered very considerably to the right during recent years.”

      • Re Karuze, you’re absolutely right. But they keep Steve Bell, who has limned, and voiced notions far, far worse.(And of course, this has been covered on these very pages).
        2ndly, Kaczynski was indeed a member of the PiS(despite suggestions to the contrary by your translator. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_and_Justice); He, along with his brother, founded it).
        3rdly, “veering to the Right”, as you know, is not a criminal offence. And the Guardian, also, very shrilly bashes the Conservatives for their alleged swing to the margins of the Right; In fact, I recall Toynbee’s indelicate schadenfreude in the early 2000′s, declaring that Howard’s Tories were “unelectable”, for a perceived “lurch to the Right” — despite no such transmutation having occurred!
        We oughtn’t to be dragged into the same, unfactual, discourse.

  2. Thanks Adam. I’ve long held that on the left-wing totem pole of issues that also include gay rights, environmental responsibility, wealth distribution, inter alia, kowtowing to the Arabist agenda always takes top priority.

    This is certainly evidence.

  3. Don’t know about far-right, but the cartoon of a man marrying a goat may not be that far off.

  4. Possibly the best article I have seen since I started reading this site

    Only one minor criticism …the ” Gaza flotilla-related Tweet ” was a ghastly thing to tweet ” Dear IDF: If you end up shooting any Americans ..cool .. ” ??? Trevino was a doughball , a gung ho extremist.

    • Burns: “Possibly the best article I have seen since I started reading this site”

      Well that would be because you don’t like pseudo-fascist hypocrites masquerading in humanist clothing when their malice is a danger to the gay community, but when it comes to Jews, we all know who you are and where you stand.

  5. Thank you for drawing our attention to this latest disgrace, CifWatch. From my point of view it is becoming clear that the Guardian is providing a platform for spreaders of hatred, and it is not just Jewish people or gays who are targeted. Recently Martin Rowson, a Guardian cartoonist who recently produced a classic anti-Semitic cartoon, sent round a tweet with the following link ( a word of caution before you click on the link, it may put you off your breakfast): http://t.co/a06jbS4CyP
    Mr Rowson seems unaware that he is living in a country which has just about managed to bring an appalling sectarian religious conflict to an end, a conflict in which it was for years commonplace for people to be targeted by terrorist gangs purely on the basis of their religion.

    In this case, the target of Rowson’s utterly sick drivel is Roman Catholicism. As a Catholic I am happy to stand together with Jewish people and Gay people to call for the editor of the Guardian Mr Rusbridger to stop this outpouring of hate as it clearly gains much impetus from the Guardian newspaper.

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