The "Czech Family" in Crisis, and Other News of the Weird
That's when it starts to get weird. Brushing aside politicians who encourage Czechs to adopt a "more tolerant" attitude toward newcomers, Marián Hošek (a deputy to the Czech Parliament) announced: "Although some immigration is natural, we mainly want Czech children to be born in the country. This is the only way to preserve cultural continuity in our land." Whoa! This is all part of the less-than-tolerant attitude that exists alongside the fabled openness and acceptance of Czech society. There is certainly less than an accepting attitude toward visible minorities here, particularly toward Roma (less pc, "gypsies"). This politician apparently thinks that "culture" can (and should) be governmentally determined and that national ethnicities are a priority of the state. Moreover, he feels he has the right to legislate ethnicity and birthrates. (There is ominous implication of a sort of quota system.) This seems derived from the eighteenth-century search for ever-elusive cultural purity (a rhetorical concept in the first place), and it's disturbing to find it so often in current social thought. It is particularly unsettling coming so close to the 16th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, one recent and inspiring triumph for human rights and humanistic values. (A more extreme example of this phenomena is noted by Kristen in Moscow.)
In other news, Václav Havel and other former dissidents have supported a move to keep files on former Communists secret unless the subjects give their express release to make such information public.
According to an IKEA survey, Czechs are less likely to have sex in the kitchen. (Could this explain the family situation?) Then there's the crazy obsession with beauty contests, which has spawned a fight over who's the real champion: Czech Miss or Miss Czech Republic? And finally, the Czech Republic has another jewel in its crown (?): the new European champion of "imitating an elks' bugle call" is Czech. They claim that the champion is "practically impossible to distinguish . . . from an elk." (Don't ask me where the elks got the bugles.)