I have just come back from my birth country, Czech Republic. I like going there, Prague is beautiful, and I have many good friends there.
However, I can see the same nationalistic shift there as in other countries. Far right parties- small but growing, people constantly talking about the Islamist threat, the racism towards Roma, or, as most Czechs call them, Gypsies. The generalisations, the fear.
There is an old competition where Czech people vote for the most popular pop and rock musicians. It is called Zlaty Slavik- Gold Nightingale. This year, an obviously fascist group called Ortel got the Silver. I looked at you tube, listened to their songs. It was shocking. The lyrics are clever, just skirting the boundary of legality. Manipulating people’s frustration and fear. The disaffected, unsuccessful people who want change. People who don’t feel part of the society. It seems to be happening everywhere, Brexit, French and American election.
Fear and frustration makes people hateful.
I speak to my generation of Czechs, people who are intelligent and educated, people who should know better, but they seem to be suffering from the same blinkered right wing and xenophobic views. I find it scary.
But then, there is the other side.
I read this obituary of Fidel Castro. No mentioning of the prisons, censorship, oppression. The obituary portraits Fidel Castro as an almost saintly figure. Not true.
I grew up in a communist country, and I could never understand the Western enthusiasm for Mao Zedong, or Che Guevara.
For a while after emigration, I made a mistake, assuming that enemies of my enemies are my friends. So, I had my blinkered, slightly right wing period.But then I started to use my brain. Asking questions, distinguishing between opinions and facts.
And here I come to the things I worry about.
If you present opinions as facts, or if you accept other people’s opinion as facts, how can you ever discover the truth?
The binary vision of the world is, in my opinion, dangerous.
The “ Them and Us”.
Will it lead to wars? I hope not.
I came back to the Brexit United Kingdom. Place where the sentiment about “Make England real again”.
Not so different to “Make America Great Again” of Donald Trump.
I have friends from different ethnic groups. I am a non-believing Jewish Czech living in England.What is my identity? Well, I think I am a person. I truly believe people all around the world have more in common than they think. I am thinking about Rudyard Kipling: “We are of the same blood you and I”
Which brings me to this, something I found on Facebook:
Maybe the differences could be reconciled.
Somebody told me about a quote, by Ronald Reagan, then repeated by Bill Clinton;