A new genre of something like a local reality show has emerged in the Czech Republic. Moving in with poor Roma into a decrepit pre-fab house for a couple of days and then narrating how disgusting and revolting it is to the whole nation. One cannot help but agree, especially when it is Mladá fronta Dnes, our “biggest daily newspaper” that presents us so perfectly and vividly with such a report. Thursday’s TV magazine Dnes called To the bottom of Chomutov broadcast the latest work that was experienced “first hand” among the “greatest dirt” and that narrates, with passion, about a grim life full of stupidity and decadence among the notorious debtors at the local housing estate – that is, among Roma. The troubled face of the reporter Tomáš Poláček (who is depicted in a sleeping bag sitting on the floor of a decrepit flat) portrays at first sight what his esthetic and moral norms had to go through during his five-day cohabitation with Roma. Not only was there not a single working light bulb in the corridor of the house and the neighbours were banging against the floor when cutting firewood but also, the corridor was so dirty that the reporter’s “saliva went bad” and the children from the Tokár family (opened their home to the reporter) depicted with such gusto even called him “you fagot” (“ty buzerante”). Drugs, weird characters, fights, criminals, STDs, suicides only multiplied the justified feeling of disgust. Only, they are described by a man lacking any personal experience of what it’s like to be unemployed for a single day, to suffer from depression and desperation without any positive solution somewhere on the margin of society.
What is there to do with such a layered and condensed 6-page-long description lacking any kind of context and the tiniest offer of a solution? It could be noted that the Chomutov housing estate is by far not the worst one and that, for example, in Chanov in Most or in Masokombinát in Kladno, no reporter would even lie down to sleep. As well as that, the depiction of human poverty and ruin is not a pleasant one (moreover, how would any of us weather out reporter’s scrutiny?), however, we can all imagine that very well now. We have lived through some 20 years of reading about such dreary places and about people at the very bottom and it is rather surprising that it still seems to lead to nothing. But that is exactly the fact showing how deep and complicated the problem behind it is.
Should we send the orderly and Czech-guaranteed Dělnická strana (far-right party), bulldozers and in the end gunmen? This really is not about – what the reporter Tomáš Sedláček reminds Minister Kocáb of – a romantic atmosphere (it is very likely that that is not what Kocáb is after either), but about a problem that affects us all. All it takes is to realise who it is that drives the Roma into ghettos because they are different, vulnerable, illiterate and helpless. Who refuses to employ them and send their children to special schools just because they do not study at home or cannot speak Czech very well. And who makes the people in need face such a scary situation as having to try to collect enough money to pay for electricity measured by a single electrometre in the whole house at Masokombinát. And even though the report does not offer any good solution, it is in our interest to solve the problem of the “uncooperative” (as we started to call them again) sooner or later. Even if we are white and decent people, we do not take drugs, we are not prostitutes, criminals and we do not call each other fagots. The best way, however, would be to do so obeying the law (through Romani assistants in schools, for example), leaving out Čunek’s social experiments, bailiffs and annihilation camps like those that used to stand in Lety u Písku and Hodonín u Kunštátu.