Commentary: Czech MP uses Nazi term to discuss the impoverished
At the end of May, an essential piece of news was reported about the so far unsuccessful attempts by more than one administration in the Czech Republic to halt the unfavorable trend of the creation of socially excluded localities. During the past nine years, the number of these places has doubled and the number of people who are being displaced into the "ghettos" has also risen.
Czech MP Lenka Kohoutová, an expert on social issues for the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) recently discussed this issue on Czech Television's "News and Commentary" program with Czech MP Marek Černoch, the chair of the "Dawn of Direct Democracy" (Úsvit) club in the lower house, and Czech MP Ivan Gabal (Christian Democrats), who is also a sociologist. In other words, this was a discussion between two populists and an expert who did his best to explain to them what is at stake here.
Unfortunately, his efforts were in vain. The ODS expert left us in no doubt about the fact that she had evidently previously collaborated on legislation with her colleague, Czech MP Ivana Řápková.
It seemed as if Kohoutová hadn't even seen the basic outputs of the GAC analysis that was being discussed. If she had, she would not have been able to say the following: "I just wanted to say something about employment. Not just I, but many of my colleagues - well, I can name Senator Zeman, who finds work for the inadaptables, he employs them himself. Recently I was chatting with him about how he offered many jobs in the Liberec Region to the inadaptables and they just don't want to work because it wouldn't be worth their while."
Yes, she is talking about the people who are described by the GAC analysis as follows: "In the localities the number of generally impoverished, very frequently unemployed people whose life situations essentially replicate the situation of the Romani population (indebtedness, low education, etc.) is rising. In addition, there is a rising number of majority-population senior citizens in such conditions."
Karel Čada, the author of this analysis, was recently asked by a reader of news server iDNES.cz whether the concept of poverty isn't being confused here with laziness and a lack of willingness to work. The sociologist unequivocally disagreed with that contention.
"In the localities surveyed a minimum of 15-20 % of inhabitants have official employment, but their income is not enough for them to leave the socially excluded environment. Even though they are working, their incomes are low. Frequently these are persons with primary educations only, and in many municipalities there is only one job for more than 50 such applicants. As many as half of the rest of the inhabitants work under the table. However, it is often not even their choice to do so," Čada said.
Who are these "inadaptables", MP Kohoutová? That word ("unanpassungsfähig") was used by the Nazis to label nonconformist groups of people whose lives subsequently ended in extermination camps.
Has ODS really fallen so completely to the bottom of the barrel that their MP Jana Černochová, is participating in hate demonstrations, and now MP Kohoutová is using Nazi rhetoric to label the impoverished inhabitants of the Czech Republic? Did she really refer to Senator Jaroslav Zeman as some kind of example?
That is really a stretch. We have reported on his excesses here at news server Romea.cz more than once.
Kohoutová had evidently run across the remarks he made in an on-line interview for news server iDNES.cz, as follows: "I, unlike the people who make their living on this issue, have done my best to employ the Gypsy community, and I estimate that about 120 Gypsies have come and gone during that time. They should be forced to work, even if that means performing public service work that involves just sweeping from left to right and back again, with a minimum requirement of 120, 130 hours."
Is this who you were talking about, Ms Kohoutová? Of course, we must add that the Czech Television moderator, Lukáš Dolanský, responded almost right away and asked her whether she wasn't generalizing a bit.
The answer he received was "of course not". I think the entire debate was then rather succinctly brought to an end by Gabal, who responded to the next round of nonsense mouthed by Kohoutová as follows: "I believe that opinion is highly unqualified."
With that one can unequivocally agree. MP Lenka Kohoutová (ODS) turned in a highly unqualified performance in this debate.
Zdeněk Ryšavý is the Executive Director of ROMEA, o.p.s.
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