Commentary: Czech President's remarks supported discrimination against Romani children
"Handicapped children should not attend classes together with non-handicapped children" - that is approximately what Czech President Miloš Zeman said last Wednesday during a visit to a Rehabilitation Institute in Brandýs nad Orlicí. His words have sparked a firestorm of criticism from experts and politicians.
In the vast majority of responses, however, one essential fact was missing: The President was not even remotely discussing "just" children with serious medical handicaps or wheelchair users, to put it simply. The place he was visiting might have indicated that was the case.
The President, however, also spoke about "ethnic groups" and "special schools". While he did not use the word "Rom", he was evidently entering into the ongoing discussion about the future of the "special schools" and equal opportunities in education.
Let's recall the President's words as reported by the CZech News Agency: "I am not an advocate of the opinion that children who are handicapped in a certain way should be place into classrooms with non-handicapped pupils because that is unfortunate for both. I repeat - unfortunate for both. Right?... I personally believe this is not racism, not a preference for any ethnic group, but that children are far happier when they are in a community of their equals than when they are placed into [a different] community... So I really just love all that multiculturalism. I believe it was invented by crazy intellectuals in a café in Prague who have never been to a school today, or if they have, they spent maybe half an hour in one. Well, whatever they saw there was just a Potemkin village. In other words, I am against inclusion. I know the multiculturalists will attack me and say I am a racist, or I don't know what else, but it's not that at all. From the point of view of their well-being it is far better that the practical classes exist - they call it a practical class because that is less pejorative than the previous name they were known under, so if you want to know my opinion, I don't like it at all and I am against it."
Let's try to summarize and understand the President's words: Generally - multiculturalism is an invention of coffeehouse intellectuals, of fools. Inclusion - i.e., the teaching of as many children as possible together - is a disaster.
To be concrete, children are supposed to remain with the framework of their own communities, whether ethnic or medical, just in their "own". An excellent instrument for this is the "special school".
The President definitely is not a racist. He just wants to send Romani children to special schools.
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