Czech Republic

“Thou shalt not insult the president or accept refugees,” states the Czech political left

According to Czech left-wing parties, a strong state does not mean the redistribution of wealth towards the poor – it means respecting the authorities and having a rather flexible approach to human rights.

The worries that Czech politics would turn eastwards have disappeared. Miloš Zeman’s letter to Donald Trump showed that the Czech President is equably capable of pushing himself upon the West and thus making us one geo-political scare shorter. Neither the proposed trimming of our Bill of Human Rights nor turning defamation of the President into a crime, as suggested by the Social Democrat Jeroným Tejc and the Communist Zdeněk Ondráček respectively, push us in either of the cardinal political directions – instead we stay firmly and cozily on home turf.

Various self-proclaimed defenders of presidential dignity, such as the Social Democrat MP and former Attorney General Marie Benešová, feel that the current age is full of vulgarity, strong words and general nastiness which the president needs to be protected from. His image, plastered on every wall, should become a symbol of hope for all those unfortunate enough to live without the same legal protection. The Czech communists keep showing that their vision of a strong state means empowering its apparatus further rather than taking care of material redistribution to favor the poor and socially disadvantaged.

Eradicating all the nasty words from Facebook would be a symbolic empowerment: the state would receive the inherent dignity it had back in the days of the Kaiser – respect to the establishment, and only to the establishment and enforced by any means. Even the man who originally came up with the bill, Communist MP Ondráček, showed its double standard when he happened to insult the Romany by comparing the law to the legal protection of social workers who face problems with a certain “let’s say maladjusted” minority.

Zeman likes to parade himself in front of people all over the Czech Republic.

When faced with opposition, the President shows no qualms in utilizing excessive police force or the completely inappropriate defamation of his opponents.

He demonstrated this publicly when he falsely accused a protester of being hysterical and driven to insanity by an ongoing divorce. The communist responsible for suggesting the bill talks about the fine line between being tasteful and tasteless: it appears that we need not worry about freedom of speech, we just need to make sure our criticisms are factual and tasteful. However this might be a problem. In exactly what way could one tastefully respond to Zeman singing the national anthem last year while standing next to the extremist, anti-Islamic clown, Konvička?

Crossing out the inconvenient parts of the Bill of Human Rights

There is only one thing comparable to the love that communists hold for a state in which no one dares to say a strong word against the president and where you can attack the socially disadvantaged during an interview for no reason at all. This is the sheer elation that Social Democrats feel when crossing out sections of the Bill of Human Rights. In addition to the fifteen Social Democrat MPs who voted for the Communist Bill to reinstate the Presidential Defamation Article, another MP from the party, Jeroným Tejc, made a brilliant exhibit of himself when he suggested that the paragraph stating our duty to offer asylum for war refugees was perhaps a bit outdated and should be removed. He wanted to make it that much simpler and cleaner for the legislature to finally start writing those absolutely essential anti-immigrant laws. The times are hard so we have to adapt – and so does the Constitution.

After the previous right-wing government tried to modernize the social state by reverting it to the way it worked in the 19th century, our current left-wing one applies this same logic to human rights. Institutions that exist to provide solidarity have to withdraw the moment someone actually tries to make use of them.

When the unemployment figures increased, the government implemented forced labor. Now that the refugees arrived, Tejc wants to get rid of the country’s duty to help them.

He will show those right-wing idiots that not just the social, but also basic human rights can easily become flexible in case of a crisis.

However there was one battle in the ongoing war against the oligarchization of the Czech Republic where our MPs stood up for themselves admirably: they refused to pay the tax on sandwiches served in the Parliament’s canteen, cleverly invoking the special status of Parliament in our political system. And thus the honor of our representative democracy remains preserved.

This text originally appeared on A2larm. Translated from Czech by Michal Chmela.


Pavel Šplíchal
He is a sociologist and contributing editor at A2larm.