, and not only in the context of the war in Ukraine. That’s why the reference to Hitler in the editorial of RESPECT magazine couldn’t help but interest me and even inspired me to write a letter to the editor:
as a regular reader of your magazine, I could not help but notice the striking editorial in issue 14/2023 with the title “Senator Zwyrtek Hamplová in Hitler’s Footsteps”. It refers to a statement in which the senator recommended the introduction of segregated classes for Roma children. It is an abominable and extremely stupid idea, both morally and practically. It is therefore not surprising that he received a loud media condemnation, to which Respekt magazine also joined. This condemnation is naturally correct, although the question arises to what extent it is appropriate and useful in the given situation to compare this attention-seeking but essentially obscure figure of the Czech political spectrum to Hitler.
The decision to use such radical and sharp rhetoric is naturally your prerogative, but in this context it is appropriate to answer one more important question:
If the senator had given her statement (identical in content) with a more developed rationale, such as: “Historically, the Roma have faced discrimination and racist persecution not only from the radical core of white supremacists from among the ethnic Czechs, but also from ordinary members of the majority population, which even today is the main cause of their worse economic and social employment, as well as possible involvement in crime or other negative phenomena. This oppression by the Czech majority continues even today, even if in the hidden form of microaggressions, cultural appropriations and reluctance to engage in anti-racist activities, and as a result the Roma community is permanently marginalized and disadvantaged and cannot develop its potential in the ongoing threat. Therefore, it is the duty of the Czech government to provide the members of the Roma community with a safe space where they can be educated without fear of persecution and without traumatizing contact with openly or covertly racist members of the majority ethnic group, who, due to the absence of lived experience, cannot show sufficient respect for the uniqueness and exclusivity of the Roma culture and to the specific needs of these vulnerable pupils.”, would her statement in the editorial of Respekt magazine receive the same condemnation and comparison to Hitler?
If not, why not?
And if so, why aren’t identical statements and demands from “progressive” institutions in the United States, for example, pillaged in the same way in Respekt magazine?
The Respekt magazine continuously informs about the political and social events there and clearly considers the topic of racism to be important, as shown by the above-mentioned need to devote the entire editorial to the marginal “outcry” of a marginal politician.
In general, racial segregation leads to the division of society, reduces social cohesion and trust and, on the contrary, increases tension and the risk of instability or conflict. Historically, there has always been and still is a breed of politicians who (and who) want as much instability, mistrust and conflict in society as possible. Some, including Senator Zwyrtek Hamplová, do so for business reasons, because they intend to “cheaply” cultivate their herd of radical voters, who will repeatedly vote them into a warm place in parliament for a little of that radical rhetoric. Others do so for “revolutionary” reasons, according to slogans such as “the worse the better”, “the overthrow of capitalism sanctifies the means”, “when you fight the climate, the chips fly”, etc., which is no less reprehensible.
It is undoubtedly right to condemn the segregationist and racist statements of Senator Zwyrtek Hamplová. However, it would not be more worthy of a magazine that “profiles as a liberal, critical medium that believes in the freedom of the human spirit and the necessity of doubting its daily fulfillment” (quoted from the front page of the magazine) instead of an obscure politician, to focus on the issue of support for the same demands by “progressive heavyweights” such as ladies Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib and Omar, or by “awakened” mainstream institutions such as the New York Times or ivy league universities?
Three final remarks
In an attempt to make the letter non-confrontational, I did not mention that “reductio ad Hitlerum” is usually a sign that the user of this tactic is trying to hide the fact that he does not have or is not willing to find real arguments for his opinion, which he intends to present vehemently at the same time. Even in Respect, the respected website Manipulátoři.cz critically states: “These are mostly desperate attempts to establish a final argument, but above all, evidence that the person who utters it does not have a real argument.“Under these circumstances, it is surprising that this argumentative foul occurred in a medium presenting itself as Respekt magazine, and even in a text written by its editor-in-chief.
In the editorial, the author is horrified by the idea that admission to university will be subject to racial quotas, and uses the example of Nazi Germany to illustrate that the number of Jewish students was first limited to correspond to their proportional representation in society, which then led to a complete ban on studies and then to the horrors of the “Final Solution”. This concern is relevant and it is appropriate to remain vigilant against such tendencies.
In this context, however, it is strange that the author ignores the fact that monitoring the racial categories of employees in an effort to ensure that the share of the “unsuitable” does not increase and, in particular, that it does not exceed their share in the demographic composition of the company, is a typical feature of “progressive” institutions (see, for example, the presentation of New York Times or University of Toronto – others easily searchable on Google by combining the name of the relevant institution with the words “diversity” and “equity”). Another example is the current criticism on the “progressive” front against the so-called “blind auditions”, where an applicant for a job in an orchestra is accepted on the basis of his/her anonymous performance behind a screen, thanks to which the admission committee does not know his/her appearance, gender, etc. It is this impossibility adapting the commission’s decision to the race of the applicant is considered problematic by “anti-racists” (for example, here and here).
It is also spicy that the mentioned practice of racial quotas in universities has been a long-term common practice in “progressive” institutions, such as Harvard, and that in the position of “unsuitable” students whose “excessive” numbers the universities are trying to reduce, apart from Asians, are precisely Jews too. As is common in “progressive” circles and media, this practice is not labeled by its proper name, but masked by the term “diversity.” “Unsuitable” applicants are not officially penalized in the entrance exams (i.e. they have to get more points than others for admission) not because of race or ethnicity, but because of “unsuitable personality assumptions”. What is interesting, however, is that the admission procedure and thus the assessment of “personality requirements” takes place without the personal presence of the applicant, i.e. automatically, precisely on the basis of their racial or ethnic affiliation. (closer, for example, here).
Although the editorial staff of Respekt is allegedly horrified by racial segregation in its editorial and deals extensively with the topic of discrimination in a number of articles, the above-mentioned facts leave it surprisingly cold and do not appear in the magazine’s content.
As is usually the case in similar cases of one-sided opinions, the editors were asked to comment, but decided not to use this option, and the above-quoted letter remained unanswered.
Tags: NOTES Segregation RESPECT Hitler-