Commentary V4

This hateful atmosphere is simply not normal

After repeated physical attacks on Ladislav Jakl, an SPD politician and member of the staff of the Václav Klaus Institute, Václav Klaus Jr. expresses concern over an increasingly hateful and aggressive atmosphere.

“This is not normal,”  warned Václav Klaus Jr. in response to the repeated attacks suffered by SPD politician Ladislav Jakl. As the son of the former president argues, something must be done to counter the hateful, aggressive mentality growing in Czech society today. 

Western societies are built on the idea of positive freedom, something to strive for , and not to be taken for granted. People aren’t angels. On the contrary, people can be aggressive, greedy, stupid and lazy. What matters is how we can tackle these features. 

It may be convenient to incite hatred and profit from our bad traits. Tirants have succeeded by exploiting this hatred. It doesn’t take much effort to find fitting examples in the course of history. Labelling one’s opponent as inferior may be all too easy. 

Widespread hatred is blatantly evident in this country. It’s not just a trait of two or three vicious examples, such as those who attacked my honourable colleague Ladislav Jakl. Influential groups, politicians, and the media all do their part. If you oppose our integration to the European Union, and thus, the loss of our sovereignty, you’re labelled a Russian spy or a Nazi. If you think a family comprises a father, a mother, and children, you’re a Nazi and a homophobe. If you’re concerned about the threat African and Asian migrants pose to European culture, you’re a Nazi and a racist. If you agree with any of these opinions, you’re also a “pest”, and many members of our society will find it legitimate to call you out. 

Politicians prosper in this intellectual climate. Thirty years after the fall of the Iron Curtain, the Czech people show less tendency to critique the former Communist party, forgetting that they once held memberships. Lies and hatred proliferate today. 

As I see it, people are incredibly  kind, and I regularly take the tram and go to simple pubs. I did experience a few personal attacks, but how was I supposed to react? Engage in a fight? Call the police? Avoid public spaces altogether? That would be wrong. 

This environment isn’t normal. Social divisions are on the rise, and this pits one individual against another. Humanist values are on the verge of extinction, with fewer believing in the fundamental good in everyone. Without this, it’d be hard to live, and I’d like to preserve it. 

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