Julius Zajac: Ideological extremism is no longer "rising" - it's already here
On Wednesday, 22 March, a terrorist attack happened in London, England. On 23 March police thwarted another such attack in Antwerp, Belgium.
I am observing how citizens in the Czech Republic are responding to these events. Unfortunately, we are beginning to grow accustomed to terrorism beyond our borders.
In the discussions on the Internet, elements of cynicism, irony and sarcasm are beginning to appear when the topic of refugees is discussed, for example. It is unequivocal that the EU and its politicians are considered "the enemy" in these discussions.
The media enjoy no thanks and are also considered "the enemy ". On the one hand, they are denounced for not reporting the nationality of the alleged perpetrators of these incidents - but if they do report such information, it is never believed, and the media are then denounced as taking people for fools.
Anybody you ask here already "knows", after all, who it is that is attacking! Who are the people actually committing these attacks, though?
Most of them are Muslims who were born in Europe. So as that favorite Czech saying goes, "Things will only get worse."
It's too bad that we don't consider all terrorists, in and of themselves, to be enemy number one. Why are these people joining the side of terrorism?
They do so because their poor social situation, combined with fanatical religion, is a "killer" combination for an easy decline into radicalization. So what is to be done?
How are we to stand up to this? That is something each of us must decide for ourselves.
I will attempt to describe what I see around me and where it might lead. One of my favorite assertions is that the communist regime lasted too long in our country - so long that even today, some people have a problem comprehending what democracy even is.
The writing of our democratic, free media is frequently perceived here as if it were EU propaganda, or multicultural propaganda. Many of us do not appreciate the Czech Republic's EU membership.
Many people have forgotten that democracy must be cultivated, not mindlessly abandoned to the political populists. Many people have already forgotten what actual totalitarianism was like - which is how the EU can be compared to a totalitarian state so often here.
Fortunately no Islamist terrorists have committed any attacks in the Czech Republic - but because of the attacks beyond our borders, we have already seen a proposal here to make the right to possess a weapon part of the Constitution (although it has been rejected, for now). We have also seen a motion raised, and rejected, for each of us to be required to protect the republic with legally-held firearms.
Several restaurants here have attempted to ban Muslims from entering their premises - although they have also been deterred. In short, hatred towards Muslims is running full force, and anybody who does not behave exactly like everybody else in this regard (i.e., anybody who is believed to an "optimist") is considered a traitor to the nation.
Doesn't this remind you all of anything? It reminds me of the 1930s, which was, naturally, even more cruel - but the budding evil and hatred here is similar.
Try replacing the word "Muslims" with the word "Jews" sometime and compare what you see in the Czech media today with newspaper material from that era. What's more, I can well imagine that a terrorist attack might take place in the Czech lands in future, unfortunately.
I can also imagine the corresponding wave of the hatred that is currently mainly running through the Internet and the pubs, once it permeates every nook and cranny of the public "in full force". Anybody darker-skinned, who is just reminiscent of a "Muslim", would decidedly not find this country a bed of roses at that moment.
For safety reasons, we Roma might have to stick to our own restaurants, schools and shops. Segregation would be fully unleashed.
Nobody but the "optimists" would take any interest in the fact that nobody else here has anything in common with the terrorists. Paramilitary units comprised of so-called "decent" people would become nightmares for all darker-skinned people.
Sometimes they might lynch somebody, just because they can, while shouting that they are all "for our nation". Pogroms would be perpetrated here.
The borders would close. The Czech Republic would leave the EU and NATO, and the Czech President would become that Japanese guy who claims to be a great Czech.
A total collapse would happen, chaos of such dimensions that we would have to again be "liberated" by the Russian Army. Ideological extremism, in my opinion, is no longer just "on the rise" here.
During the last few years, extremism has become a component of everyday life. All one has to do is listen to people discussing terrorism and carefully read what they write.
Even the discussions held beneath the articles published online by the Czech public broadcasters of radio and television are calling for death to all Muslims and violence. This is not just illegal and sad, it is also dangerous - for all of us.
First published in Czech on 24 March 2017.
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