We the Which People?

The White House petition site is being leveraged by a foreign audience.

President Reagan used to tell this joke: A Russian and an American are arguing about their countries’ relative merits and the American brags that he can walk into the Oval Office, “pound the president’s desk and say, ‘Mr. President, I don’t like the way you’re running our country.’” [Apparently White House security was more lax in the ‘80s].

“I can do that,” the Russian responds. “You can?” the American asks.

“Yes,” the Russian says. “I can go into the Kremlin, to the General Secretary’s office, pound his desk and say ‘Mr. General Secretary, I don’t like the way President Reagan’s running his country!”

An interesting consequence to the White House’s We the People citizen petition platform is the opportunity it’s given citizens of other nations an opportunity to weigh in on American policy.

In March, Japanese and Koreans sounded off on the proper name for the Sea of Japan, which lies between the two nations. Many Koreans and others think the water body should be called the East Sea. Their petition gained more than 100,000 signatures in just over a month, making it one of the most popular petitions ever posted to the site.

Now, several Poles and American supporters have filed a petition demanding President Obama apologize for referring to Auschwitz and other World War II concentration camps as “Polish Death Camps” during a ceremony awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Jan Karski, a member of the Polish resistance.

The petitioners called the phrase “a slur against Polish people” that erroneously “implicates Poles as collaborators in the murders of Jews and other prisoners; rather than victims of Nazi aggression.”

The petition had gained about 5,000 signatures as of Monday, roughly 20,000 shy of the finish line for an official administration response.

In other We the People news, the administration has been doing a yeoman’s job of responding to a cache of old petitions that piled up during the site’s first few weeks in September 2011.

There were 21 of those six-month old petitions on March 27. Only four remain now.

They are: