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He rarely holds anything resembling a news conference and gets most of his news filtered through aides. He has never married, has no children and lives alone with his cat. Yet, as leader of the Law and Justice Party, his power is unquestioned. If he thinks a law needs to be passed, it is usually passed. His control is not total — there are factions even within his party that he must contend with — but it is sweeping, according to friends and foes alike.

For more than a month after Mr.

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He recently left the hospital, but his prolonged absence from the public stage raised questions about the direction his party and country will take when he leaves. For years, the one person who could persuade Mr. Kaczynski that he was veering off course was his twin brother, Lech. Of the two, Lech grew to be the more outgoing, public figure, while Jaroslaw was regarded as brilliant but also mercurial, largely keeping his own counsel.

On the day of the crash, Lech Kaczynski was flying to visit a memorial in the Katyn Forest, a place haunted by history, killing grounds where more than 20, Poles were slaughtered by Red Army soldiers in the early days of World War II, a crime that the former Soviet Union long denied and outlawed Poles from discussing. In the plane crash, Lech died along with the top ranks of the Polish military and members of Parliament.

But whether Mr. Kaczynski truly believes the conspiracy theories that he promotes is harder to know. Joanna Kluzik-Rostkowska, who served as Mr. Kluzik-Rostkowska, who is now aligned with the political opposition. She says she does not know what he truly thinks anymore, even as the question has taken on far greater significance. Migalski, another former ally, does not have a definitive answer either.

Because if there was a crime there must be a punishment. The government is moving to settle scores. Arabski and four other government officials who played roles in organizing the trip are facing charges of negligence.

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If Mr. Arabski is convicted, it could pave the way for prosecuting Mr. Tusk, who is currently the president of the European Council, which represents the leaders of the European Union. Tusk is widely expected to be the main rival of Mr. Indeed, many say that Mr. Behind the conspiracy theories is a deeply held belief of Mr.

That belief has fueled the growing battle between Mr. Kaczynski and the man widely hailed as the hero of the Solidarity movement, Lech Walesa , who has been a vocal critic of the mythologizing of Smolensk. Walesa has posted messages on Facebook condemning the spread of Smolensk monuments, and he was going to take part in protests last summer at one of the monthly marches that were held to mark the crash. But in response to growing demonstrations against the marches and the politicization of the tragedy, the government passed a law limiting where protesters could gather — a law widely criticized as undemocratic — and added hundreds of police officers to the route of future marches.

Kaczynski has become more strident in his accusations that Mr. Walesa, who was imprisoned for leading striking workers during the Solidarity movement, had ties to Communists. He claims it was his twin brother, Lech Kaczynski — not Lech Walesa — who was the real leader of Solidarity.

For outside observers, the different views on Smolensk reveal how Poland, once a pillar and paragon in the defense of democracy, has become a land divided. Log In. Or, perhaps, it is both. But lynching had massive symbolic as well as tragically real consequences. So it is with terrorism.

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The more widespread and determined the opposition to it, the less likely it is to flourish and the more likely it is to decline. Much the same can be said of the current student assault on free speech. Like McCarthyism in the s, it is an insidious threat to the core values of a college or university. Those of us who think that open argument over the spectrum of ideas is central to higher education should be as indignantly and adamantly opposed to this attempt at suppression as many of us were to McCarthyism.

Finally, I think that as of now the dis honors of over-the-top political paranoia hardly belong to the Trumpians alone. The anti-Trump chattering masses in the mainstream media, entertainment, and the social networks are as unrestrained as their counterparts on the other side of the political fence.

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To deny that palpable fact is to let partisanship overrule a reasonably dispassionate view of the way things are. But the attacks that we have seen since the s remain, in my mind, violence committed by networks of militants who use the religion of Islam as a way to build public support and to legitimize their activities. Criminal organizations and military groups have historically found arguments to support what they do, but their use of the argument does not prove that they are grounded in anything bigger than themselves.

The terrorists are killers and they are criminals who seek power, money, and land for their own aggrandizement and sense of worth. The terrorists pervert rather than reflect Islam. It is also important to remember that the U. Yes, lynching only impacted a small percentage of African Americans, but it was grounded in the entire political and economic structure of southern society—as well as the U.

Congress—before the s. The entire economic and political structure of the region supported racial inequality and racial violence. This is why lynching was much more than a symbolic problem. For me, I often come back to the historic speech that former President George W. As to the politics of the campuses, where you and I spend most of our time and I would say that these two issues should really be in very separate categories , shutting down speech has certainly been wrong.

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The beauty of the university is that students should be exposed to all sorts of ideas, including ideas that they fundamentally disagree with. But by and large the efforts to shut down speech remain isolated, though high profile, incidents. Students all over the country are engaged in all sorts of protests and activism—from fighting for policies providing for racial inclusion, to holding vigorous debates over foreign policy and climate change and what a university should or should not support with their resources as they relate to these issues, to ongoing debates about political ideas.

Sure, the protests sometimes move in a destructive direction but this is nothing new, as we can remember from the s.

In most colleges, the reality is that a quick look at university websites shows that a multiplicity of speakers are still talking about different issues from different perspectives all the time. Indeed, shortly after the Middlebury incident Charles Murray spoke at Columbia University, a hotbed of liberal activism, without incident.

I have not seen any solid evidence showing that students have somehow shut down debate in a systematic fashion. The danger in my mind is to take incidents like what occurred with Murray and make them seem like the norm. And finally, as we have discussed, I do believe that there is a false equivalency problem when analyzing party politics since the s. While it is true that there is passion on both sides of the aisle and there are also overblown fears, differences do exist between the parties. I am convinced by the extensive political science research that shows Republicans as a whole have moved further to the right than Democrats have moved to the left.

I also believe many Republicans have been more willing than Democrats to engage in a ruthless style of political warfare than shunts aside the need for governance on a regular basis. There is no comparison between the organizational strength and popularity of the conservative media, which often traffics in conspiracy theory and false information, with the rather flimsy media that exists. When it comes to Trump, there are many ways in which he is fundamentally different than anything we have seen and there are legitimate reasons for concern.

The conflict-of-interest problem that exists for this administration is extremely problematic. There is good reason for his opponents to call him out and to be worried about the future. There are also more than enough reasons for journalists to investigate. This is much more than standard partisanship. If there is any major sea change driving politics in the last few decades, it has been the deep changes in the character of the economy. The growing insecurity and fragility of the middle class and the deepening divide between rich and poor have been forces underlying many of the changes that we have seen from elections to popular opinion.