Support Ukraine Here

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors
Czech News in English » Opinion » HN: Czechs' silent reaction to extremism is insufficient

HN: Czechs’ silent reaction to extremism is insufficient

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Table of Contents

Prague, April 26 (CTK) – The failure of Czechs to react resolutely to extremist steps such as the spraying of Nazi symbols on migrant-friendly cafes is unfortunate because it may produce an atmosphere in which the espousing of certain views would be dangerous to life, Petr Honzejk writes in Hospodarske noviny (HN) yesterday.
He is reacting to a recent incident in which unknown perpetrators scrawled threatening inscriptions or Nazi symbols on several facilities in Prague that participate in the HateFree Zone project that promotes approach to all people without hate and violence.
Honzejk says the incident is reminiscent of similar events in Austria in the 1930s, where, too, threatening inscriptions appeared on walls and shop windows now and then, but everybody believed that decent people have nothing to do with this and would never join such hateful extremist actions.
However, in March 1938, the cultural and relatively tolerant Austria suddenly and quite unexpectedly turned into an area of exploding anti-Jewish hatred, which the “decent” majority of people watched with satisfaction, Honzejk writes.
Like the pre-war Austrians, Czechs, too, believe that extremist steps are unimportant and actually amount to settling accounts between various groups, with which decent people have nothing in common, Honzejk writes.
Moreover, the Czechs believe that the situation cannot go awry in the Czech Republic. They know that the outburst of hatred in Austria followed its Nazi annexation. The Czech Republic is not threatened by any intervention from outside, which is why people believe that there are no conditions for an explosion of hatred there, Honzejk writes.
This is an incautious conclusion. True, the country faces no external annexation. However, an internal annexation, or a gradual inclination of the public opinion towards the dark side, is already underway. The Czechs may harm themselves even without assistance from outside, Honzejk writes.
Whenever the Czech extremists wage an attack, using either paint, a Molotov cocktail or a knife, some start relativising its dangerousness and the guilt involved, Honzejk says.
At present, too, some write on social networks that the Prague hate-free facilities, including cafes, shops and religious centres, are to blame for the threatening inscriptions themselves by defending immigrants. Others even incite towards further similar attacks by asserting that the owners sprayed Nazi symbols on their their cafes themselves, Honzejk writes.
The worst of all is that the attacks have also been relativised by top-level authorities. President Milos Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek has drawn a parallel between the attacks and the recent mock action in which members of an artistic group climbed up the roof of Prague Castle to replace the presidential flag with giant red boxer shorts. According to Ovcacek, the latest threats are either as serious or as insignificant as the previous attempt to ridicule Zeman, Honzejk writes.
In this situation, no one would wonder if the police did not do their utmost to investigate the hatred incident. The police fail to clear up any of the several extremist attacks that occurred in the past months. The fight against growing hatred does not seem to be the Czech police’s priority, Honzejk writes.
Something unfortunate has been underway in the Czech Republic, and the society’s dominating approach to it is watching, he writes.
The situation is seemingly not bad, as almost nobody openly sides with extremists. However, as historian Timothy Snyder has written based on the 78-year-old Austrian experience, there are historical situations in which the mere watching of developments is not a neutral approach, Honzejk writes.
Sometimes, watching is a political message that indicates where the new division lines between groups lie and who is finally branded guilty. True, nobody in the Czech Republic is threatened with being treated like Jews in pre-war Austria. However, the “watching approach” nourishes the threat that the espousing of certain opinions may become dangerous to life in the Czech Republic, Honzejk says.
It is really no longer enough to keep silent decently, he adds.

most viewed

Subscribe Now