Miroslav Kováč: How do we stand up to neo-Nazism - with arms, or with diplomacy?
Photos of yesterday's DSSS rally in Ústí nad Labem are being shared on Facebook. Among Romani people, the image that is resounding the most is one in which, after a conversation, the chair of the Equal Opportunities Party (SRP), Štefan Tišer, shakes hands with DSSS chair Tomáš Vandas.
That gesture has unleashed a tempestuous discussion online. Ladislav Baláž of the Europe Roma Network (ERN) organization in England, for example, has issued the following challenge: "We call on all organizations and political parties to distance themselves from the approach taken by SRP chair Mr Tišer and other members of that party toward the DSSS chair Vandas. It is not possible to shake hands with someone who wants to 'cleanse' Europe, including the Czech Republic, of Romani people. We sharply condemn the SRP for this. Tišer has now shown us how he thinks about Roma and how he wants to address Roma problems. Anyone who shakes hands with a 'Nazi' is selling out more than just himself."
Blogger Jiří Hrebenár, who traditionally criticizes Romani representatives, writes: "This is another textbook case in which the chair of the Equal Opportunities Party has failed and is sitting on the lap of an ultra-nationalist extremist whose main political points included anti-Romani positions. How can the chair of one of the Romani parties not only allow himself to shake Vandas's hand, but to agree with such a heavily anti-Romani extremist and not stand up for his fellow party member?" [Editor's note: Vandas asked Tišer to stop SRP candidate Emilie Horáčková from shouting, see previous coverage.]
In their efforts to gain publicity, these would-be "activists" and others like them are manipulating Romani people and dragging them into some sort of society-dividing "war" in which they, the "activists", will dictate with whom politicians (and not just Romani ones) are permitted to speak, and how, and with whom they are not permitted to speak and how, because these "activists" find diplomacy to be a foreign concept and are incapable of separating activism from politics. On the contrary, in their own way, they are practically calling on Romani people to engage in a certain kind of social isolation and separation in which the "activists" will be the exclusive negotiators for and voice of the Roma, whom they primarily manipulate so they can cash in from various foundations.
In the past, at various anti-Romani demonstrations, we have witnessed entrepreneurs, municipal representatives, teachers, etc., participating in them. According to the logic of some these would-be activists, Romani people should therefore be governed by the following principles:
Romale, stop sending your children to school, because the Nazis are teaching them!
Romale, don't buy bread, because it is made and sold by Nazis!
Romale, move away from the Czech Republic, because most of its citizens say it's not your home!
Romale, don't go to the doctor, because there are Nazis among them!
Romale, don't apply for welfare, it comes from the Nazis' taxes!
After all, almost 90 % of the citizens of this country don't want us as their neighbors! Yes, it's true: Vandas is the leader of the Nazis in the Czech Republic.
His politics and his speeches are evidence of that. Despite the fact that he voices his views in public, is given room for them in the media, and holds rallies, the authorities are not prosecuting him.
Most Romani people take exception to his politics and, given his past, have an aversion to him. That includes the SRP!
However, politics itself requires a certain degree of diplomacy. Even the greatest activists have had to make certain compromises after entering politics.
For example, currently the EU is negotiating with Russia, which has annexed the territory of a sovereign state. As long as there is an opportunity to reach an agreement with the Russian Federation, are EU representatives supposed to stop communicating with them and declare war?
In this case, the "activists" evidently want war. Who would such a war harm most of all?
Whose children, whose men, whose sons would such a war take away from their homes? This is why the SRP is doing its best to find the path of reconciliation.
This party is called the Equal Opportunities Party. That is why we must communicate with our enemies.
A handshake is a symbol of reconciliation. Only a strong individual is able to offer his hand.
That handshake might not be accepted. Vandas didn't have to accept a handshake from a Romani man.
By not accepting the handshake, Vandas might even have made a display of his position. However, he did accept it.
Vandas accepted that handshake in front of his followers, who hate Romani people, not during some secret meeting. He publicly accepted the handshake of a Romani man, not the other way around.
Romale, don't let yourselves be confused by fanatics and hypocrites. Remember the words of the "greatest" person who ever lived:
"But I say unto you,
love your enemies, do good to them that hate you,
bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
Whosoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also,
and if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also."
Let's stand up to neo-Nazism! How: Arms, or diplomacy?
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