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January 23, 2020
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Chad Evans Wyatt's commentary of violent hate mail, which received Museum of Roma Culture director

USA/CR, 28.8.2011 23:36, (ROMEA)
Jana Horváthová and Vladimír Horváth (FOTO: Chad Evans Wyatt)

PhDR Jana Horváthová, Direktor of the Muzeum romské kultury in Brno, recently received an execrable, hateful letter, here is one excerpt:

We’re going to spray vitriol in your face. I promise we won’t rape you because even a dog wouldn’t want a dirty, stinking gypsy. He would vomit if he touched you.

To which, I add a post found by our friend Josef Banom on the site of a Czech daily Parlamentní listy.cz:

I’m not a doctor, but I would gladly sterilize all of the gypsy women you can send me free of charge. At the locksmith workshop I have tools and a pick-axe and a shovel in the woodshed.” 

My heart wept, on reading these anonymous screeds. Dr Horváthová is a thoughtful scholar and administrator, who has brought the Muzeum romské kultury from the edge to centre-stage in recent years, who has innovated educational initiatives with great imagination, surpassing the Czech government’s weak attempts to bring Rromani children forward. Who has responded to the call of Václav Havel to address the pressing need for Rromani emancipation – or suffer return to ethnic grievance, and loss of much-needed talent. She has contributed immensely to the cultural wealth of her country.

I wrote to her as colleague. Dr Horváthová and her family were central to establishing the work which four years on became the romarising project. I am honored that the Muzeum now has accepted the archive exhibition of that series to its collection.

I turn to this letter, written by “anonymous” and consider not so much its content, odious beyond description, but to the simple fact that its author hasn’t courage to name himself, although he is quite eager to name others. He hides in shadow, because to be completely open in his scurrulous convictions is to violate the law. Which is to say, had he the courage to write and attach his name, he certainly would have risked prosecution: it is illegal to threaten violence upon another citizen.

This coward implies that he is more Czech than any Rromani. My colleague Tereza Bottman found a genetic testing study published by akutuálně.cz, which demonstrates that merely 10% of those inhabiting the Czech lands today are native to that land. The other 90% are “immigrants” from elsewhere. The far right had best invest in their own education, not clownish club costumes and beer.

To harm, break, destroy is not the goal of representative society. This person and his “millions” hide behind masks, go to isolated retreats to bark bile to one another, communicate in secret, occasionally make the mistake of coming into the sunlight, where the general public perceives something rotten to the core.

However, the public cannot simply stand by, assume this will pass, just ignore these attacks, do nothing. Passivity gives permission to Czech Senator Jarosalv Doubrava, who utters words such as these: “The fun is over. The situation is very serious. Do we want the Gypsies to set our towns on fire like the unrest in England?” Those who suffer reduced circumstance in their jobs and lives during times of economic and social stress search for someone – anyone – to blame. How easy to chose defenceless Rroma, who, having been systematically marginalised, now become blamed as core problem of ill societies. They are hardly in the majority, as claimed on another site found by Banom, but decidedly a minority. If by magic the Rroma were to vanish, the problems faced by European societies would not change at all. Social and fiscal misbehaviors on the part of majorities across Europe are not created by this harmed minority.

To “anonymous,” and your fellow-travelers in hatred: you ought mend your own houses, and not seek to find racist fault in those who struggle in society’s basement. After all, who is truly a Czech, save by citizenship? Ruthenians? Moravans? Germans? Bohemians? Rromani? Ukranians? Slovaks? Hungarians? What do you defend? Immigrants? Most of you migrated to the Czech Republic, and now are citizens of one democracy, time to build that.

I close with the radiant words of Jack Layton, a remarkable and compassionate Canadian leader, who passed away this week, in the flower of his inspirational career. Here is what he said, two days before his death:

“My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”

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Museum of Roma Culture director receives violent hate mail

Chad Evans Wyatt
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