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The Times
  • Jerry Moore: Making political hay out of Holocaust gaffe is inappropriate

  • It’s understandable that President Barack Obama’s rivals would look for any reason to criticize him. But an error he made regarding the Holocaust should not be exploited for political advantage.

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  • The worst time for a world leader to make a gross error is when anyone is listening.
    President Barack Obama found this out last week while awarding a Medal of Freedom posthumously to Jan Kozielewski, also known as Jan Karski. A prominent figure of the Polish resistance movement in World War II, Karski alerted exiled Polish officials as well as British and American representatives to the horrific things happening to Jewish people.
    In describing Karski’s brave actions, Obama referred to “a Polish death camp” rather than to “Nazi death camp in Poland.” This enraged Polish people in the United States and Poland. It also didn’t sit well with two Chicago-area political leaders.
    Pat Brady, chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, and Adam Andrzejewski, chairman of For the Good of Illinois Political Action Committee, staged a protest June 1 at the Chicago Cultural Center during an Obama fundraiser. Andrzejewski said Obama showed “disrespect toward (a) historic friend and courageous champion of liberty — the nation of Poland.” Brady said that Obama’s refusal to issue an apology would likely have Revolutionary War hero Casimir Pulaski “spinning in his grave.”
    But the problem is that Obama has apologized for his error. He issued a statement of regret later the same day, and then he sent a letter of apology June 1 to Poland President Bronislaw Komorowski.
    It’s only appropriate for Obama to apologize for such a mistake. Unlike some other occupied nations, Poland never operated a collaborative government with the Nazis. Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, has so far honored 6,339 Polish individuals as Righteous Gentiles for their efforts to save Jews during World War II — more than any other single country.
    Obama made a grievous error, but it was an honest mistake that many others have previously made. I understand that his rivals are going to jump at the chance to criticize him for blunders.
    The issue of the Holocaust, however, is too serious for them to use just to try and gain political advantage. Obama screwed up and apologized for it — time to move on, folks.
    Contact Jerry Moore at jmoore@mysuburbanlife.com.
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