Commentary: Czech politician calls police on American couple - because they're black
Earlier this month a local councilor in Hodonín, Roman Sedlačík, caused an uproar by doing something unbelievable. He is a member of the conservative nationalist movement called the "Order of the Nation" (Řád národa), which has become "famous" for making a lot of racist noise, including Holocaust denial.
While that fact alone probably predetermined him to do what he did, the fact that he is an elected representative (which, by the way, is terrible for the image of voters in Hodonín) means he should think before acting. The question is whether his head actually contains an organ capable of thought.
In his beloved town, Sedlačík says he caught sight of two people whom he believed were foreign nationals, a man and a woman with black skin, and so he asked them where they were from. He described the man as responding in "broken English" that they had traveled there from Germany.
Sedlačík subsequently called the local police on the couple and posted a summary of the entire situation to his Facebook profile, calling on people to be inspired by his deed as follows: "Breaking news from Hodonín! Naturally, I walked up to them and asked the adult black male what they were doing there, where they were from, and whether they were Muslims. His wife was horrified, I don't understand why, but then I also don't understand why people don't notice them and are slowly getting used to them. I called the local police to ask that they at least check their identities so we can be certain about what is getting into our country! I call on all citizens not to settle for this, use your rights and take advantage of the fact that we have local and state police who are supposed to 'Aid and protect'!"
The Municipal Police explained to the politician that being black does not automatically mean one poses a general threat to the "white" inhabitants of Hodonín, and over the course of the next few hours and days that was confirmed, as no damage to property or harm to residents was reported from there. Now it has turned out that the dark- skinned man was actually a US soldier who had been personally invited to come from Germany to visit Hodonín and who, in addition to speaking what the local councilor thought was "broken English", also speaks French and German.
The soldier was accompanied by his wife, who works as the director of a foundation supporting children's homes, nursery schools and school facilities in Uganda. Both are US citizens.
At this juncture you might be saying to yourself that Sedlačík is just one of a handful of extremists elected thanks to the ignorance of some voters and that he does not represent the political "mainstream". That is far from the case!
This Holocaust denier was elected chair of thelocal Czech Social Democratic Party cell in Hodonín in 2010! He served in that role for almost five years!
I cannot believe that during all that time his party colleagues never figured out what kind of beliefs he holds. Or maybe they did know, and it didn't bother them.
In any event, the Hodonín council has now condemned the actions of their member and has issued a statement about this absurd situation. "The married couple was accommodated at Hotel Krystal and decided to spend Saturday afternoon shopping, which was when they encountered our councilor, Mr Sedlačík. They are Christians and our councilor's reaction to them was absolutely inadequate," the Mayor of Hodonín, Milan Lúčka, posted to the city's official website.
Two vice-mayors joined that statement by expressng their deep disagreement with the behavior of councilor Sedlačík. My question, though, is: What if these dark-skinned visitors to the town had been neither Americans, nor Christians, but had been Africans and Muslims?
Would the council have condemned the stupid behavior of their representative in the same way? I am not certain they would have.
I would recommend that Mr Sedláčik, instead of cultivating his anxiety about "what is getting into our country", would do better to take a proper English language course and pay a visit to the nearest psychiatrist. The sad fact is that Hodonín must have many more such people living there, otherwise this racist could never have been elected.
What about other towns here? They certainly have similar people on their councils who are, in my opinion, mentally unbalanced, elected representatives of the citizenry.
We can only hope that these kinds of "exotics" will disappear from politics over time. It's not enough just to hope, though.
It is necessary to vote during local and parliamentary elections, to use our votes to prevent such people from being re-elected. There is no other way to accomplish this.
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