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Czech MP posts racial slurs online to "test" public response, then says "just kidding"

27.7.2017 6:17
Martin Komárek (PHOTO:  Stanislav Tvrzník, Wikimedia Commons)
Martin Komárek (PHOTO: Stanislav Tvrzník, Wikimedia Commons)

"I'm not a racist. I get along just fine with niggers, chinks, and even with kikes. It's the dirty gyppos who bother me," former journalist and Czech MP Martin Komárek (ANO) posted to his Facebook profile on Saturday evening. A discussion immediately followed online beneath the post in which most people said they could not understand whether the remark was the MP's authentic opinion or whether it was irony.

"Is that meant to be irony?" Jan Čulík, the publisher of the online news server Britské listy, posted to the MP. "Turn on your brain," the MP wrote back.

"Mr Komárek, in the Czech environment irony cannot be used because the conditions are already so absurd that people cannot tell whether you are joking. See above," Čulík responded, referencing other comments posted that apparently took the MP's post at face value - and agreed with it.

"I wanted to capture the mentality of a nation," Komárek then wrote in another online comment. When contacted by news server Romea.cz about the post, he wrote the following:  "Unfortunately during my travels around Czechia I encounter the fact that we are somewhat 'soft' racists. That can most be seen precisely in our prejudices against Romani people."

Komárek then commented on his post in his own blog. "Some people comprehended it, thank God most did, by a narrow majority. The others fell into two groups. Some got it but reproached me for playing with fire and warned that the actual racists would praise me. Others actually did praise me for minding the 'dirty gyppos'," the MP summarized.

"It's remarkable how hot the subject of racism is in one of the most racially pure societies in the world. [...] Anything foreign bothers us here in our 'warm, stinky nest'. Fortunately we are not aggressive and we are probably not going to be exterminating anybody," the MP's text continues, explaining that his Facebook post had been ironic:  "For those who did not comprehend this: My original profession is that of a humorist, although my frustrating time in the lower house has not yielded me any good jokes."

News server Romea.cz contacted the MP for an explanation and more information about his post. In his written answers to us he was still "in good spirits" and we did not learn much, as you can see below.

Komárek: My irony is cruelly truthful

Q: How do you explain that, according to you, just a narrow majority of people responding to your status update comprehended that it was irony? From the comments it rather appears that most people did not get it at all and believed it was your authentic opinion.

A: That's concerning - the sentence is so clear that anybody who did not comprehend it must not be of average intelligence. I don't want to offend them by saying that - I don't know how to dance or sing, for example, but I'm still alive.

Q: What does it mean when so many people consider that a politician could even make such a remark in all seriousness?

A: My irony is cruelly truthful.

Q: Do you believe that if you had posted a similar sentence a few years ago there would have been a different ratio between those who comprehended you and those who would have taken you seriously?

A: I don't know how to gauge that, Facebook wasn't here then.

Q: You have written that you wanted to capture the mentality of a nation. Do you believe that actually this is the mentality of the Czech nation, that people here think like racists? Can you discuss this further?

A: I insist that this was about "a" nation. Unfortunately during my travels around Czechia I encounter the fact that we are somewhat 'soft' racists. That can most be seen precisely in our prejudices against Romani people.

Q: How can we oppose populism and racism in politics these days? Do people today even have a chance to figure it out in this deluge of fake news, ironic status updates on Facebook and unbelievable tweets by the Czech President's press secretary?

A: The only guideline is to use common sense.

Zdeněk Ryšavý, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Facebook, Martin Komárek, Racism, Soužití



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