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August 8, 2022



Commentary: What are the Romani candidates running for the fascists in the Czech Republic thinking?

28.9.2020 8:29
The "Freedom and Direct Democracy" (SPD) movement in the Czech Republic used the slogan "For Healthy Schools Without Inclusion" in its advertising campaign for the 2020 regional and Senate elections in Brno, the second-largest city. (PHOTO: Facebook page of Josef Prokeš)

A person will be able to last among the fascisizing followers of Tomio Okamura, the chair of the "Freedom and Direct Democracy" (SPD) movement, only as long as he or she believes in the same things they do, or at least says the same things they do. This principle is beautifully expressed by the old Czech saying: "Whoever wants to join the wolves must howl with them."

Let's imagine a Romani person who abuses other Roma, insults them, and agrees with the hoax now making the rounds that falsely alleges the number of Romani people in the Czech Republic has doubled over the last 14 years and that this steep increase in the Romani population is one of the two biggest security threats facing the country. Let's imagine a Romani person who casts doubt on Romani suffering during the Holocaust.

Let's imagine a Romani person who says the following: "The fact that the Cikán is perceived today with opprobrium is not the fault of the neo-Nazis or the Czechs or the Turks. It is, first and foremost, the Roma themselves who should be ashamed. The lifestyle they have cultivated over many centuries and their values, whether they like it or not, have clashed and are clashing with the values in all civilized countries."

Perhaps the Romani person is saying this: "We write of the Workers Party that it is extremist, but what actually makes it so? For example, what is extreme about the opinion that Cikáni should establish their own state and that the Czech Republic should support their emigration to the country from whence their ancestors came?"

Let's recall that the Workers Party was dissolved by the Supreme Administrative Court because it was a neo-Nazi party carrying on Hitlerian Nazism. Yes, you guessed correctly, both of those quotes are the deathless prose of Tomio Okamura.

When Romani actors contribute to disseminating stereotypes about Romani people in advertisements here, we condemn it. This is much worse, though.

Humor and jokes are based on stereotypes, and we understandably do not have to like any of that, but allowing oneself to be made fun of in an ad pales in comparison to the direct support for racists and xenophobes that is expressed by some Romani people. What can possibly be going through the minds of Kuchtová, the Romani businesswoman in Krupka who is vice-chair of the SPD club there, or Tancoš, the Romani staffer at a children's home in that same town, to make them run for the SPD in the Ústecký Region?

Certainly Romani people can be found who despise their fellow Roma, and some localities are frequently governed by a mafia where the power structure includes (in addition to local politicians, bureucrats, and state and local police) some Romani loan sharks or owners of residential hotels, etc. It is more than embarrassing, though, for a Romani person to agree (or to stay silent about) the generalized allegation that Romani people are to blame for their reputation and that the Czech Government should support their emigration to India because they pose a danger to the Czech Republic.

That allegation applies to Kuchtová and Tancoš too, after all. What's more, Okamura's remarks are idiotic.

It's not for nothing that this politician has earned the nickname "Lobotomio". However, such remarks are not the only things he has done and said that should bother Romani people.

The stronger extremists like Okamura become in Czech politics, the worse off Romani people will be here. Entrepreneurs and the staffers of children's homes will be no exception.

František Kostlán, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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