Best columns: Europe
Charge British ISIS recruits with treason
Now that ISIS is crumbling on the battlefields of Syria and Iraq, hundreds of British jihadists could soon return home. We shouldn’t let them just waltz right in, said The Times. This is the moment “to set up elaborate filters” and issue temporary exclusion orders while each of the returnees is carefully checked. Returning militants’ stories will have to be evaluated against their social media accounts, the testimony of others, and intelligence on jihadist activity gathered by the U.S., the U.K., and other powers. Many of these extremists, particularly the women, will surely claim to “have been duped, brainwashed, or simply ignorant.” Given that ISIS publicized its executions all over the internet, and actually used such violence as a macabre recruiting tool, naïveté should not be allowed as a defense. Instead, to demonstrate that Britain will not tolerate jihadism, we should “revive the crime of treason.” The charge was last brought against William Joyce, a British fascist turned Nazi propagandist, who was executed in 1946. Of course, nowadays traitors won’t be put to death, but anyone who has volunteered for ISIS “must be prosecuted.” In fighting for a bloodthirsty terrorist group, these Britons “have made themselves an enemy of Britain.” They should be treated as such.
Will one man’s suicide wake us up?
A Polish man’s self-immolation has shocked the nation, said Jan Hartman. The 54-year-old, not yet named by authorities, died last week after setting himself on fire outside the Palace of Culture in Warsaw. He left behind a manifesto of protest against the increasing authoritarianism of the ruling Law and Justice party. “I love freedom first and that is why I decided to immolate myself,” his letter said. “I hope that my death will shake the consciences of many people.” It has already shaken mine. Poland seems to have been transported back to 1968, when 59-year-old Ryszard Siwiec set himself alight to protest Poland’s participation in the brutal suppression of the Prague Spring by Warsaw Pact forces. That martyrdom led to political demonstrations, and Siwiec is honored as a Polish hero to this day—one who helped Poles see that they could resist their Communist leaders. Now this brave man in Warsaw has tried to call our attention to the creeping repression that has set in since nationalist Law and Justice came to power in 2015, with courts politicized and the press placed under state control. Some of us have joined street protests, but most of us “have done nothing or almost nothing to save Polish democracy,” which we won back only 27 years ago. Will this man’s sacrifice wake up Polish society “from its lethargy and complacency?”