Most of the Czech, Slovak, and other post-communist world's political junkies were stunned by the only tweet that the boss of the EU commission Jean-Claude Juncker wrote about the death of the Cuban dictator Fidel Castro:
This "hero to many" description was his picked summary of a somewhat longer statement about Castro's death by Juncker.
Similar outrageous or at least bizarrely neutral remarks were made by other leftists including Trudeau (Canada's PM), Obama (lame duck U.S. president), and Corbyn (the boss of the U.K. Labour Party) but Juncker's lionization of Castro was almost certainly the most radical one of all.
Many Czech politicians, especially the deputies of the European Parliament (e.g. the former Czech EU commissioner Pavel Telička) quickly reacted and expressed their shock. To make things even worse, Czech Public TV journalist Mr Bohumil Vostal (reporting from Brussels) asked Juncker's spokesman, New Democracy's Margaritis Schinas (Greece), for an apology or an explanation. It didn't end up too well:
Vostal meaningfully asked how it was possible for the boss of the EU commission to be signed under such a shocking statement about a man who has executed at least 7,000 people, forced 10% of his nation to flee the country, and who approved the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia, among other things. Was it a mistake or a hack? Is there a different explanation?
The staggering Greek aßhole arrogantly replied that all the unflattering statements about Castro were just Mr Vostal's personal opinions that expressed a "very narrow view of reality".
Just imagine. This guy comes from a political party that paints itself as a conservative one, relatively to the Greek calibration. But he ends up being almost the same intolerable fanatical commie as those in Syriza and similar political cesspools. Schinas was literally harassing the Czech journalist because he dared to mention some facts – that Castro was one of the most terrifying criminals among the 20th century politicians.
The shock among the Czech and Slovak politicians didn't fade away in the following week. Today, the EU observer reported that
official urgent complaint that the EU commission is obliged to answer in 3 weeks. The anger is clear from the Czech and Slovak text:
As "the elected representatives of the Czech and Slovak citizens, who suffered from political persecutions and whose lives will be forever marked by the 1968 events," the 14 MEPs said that "the response by Mr Schinas was arrogant and portrayed shocking ignorance of facts with a total lack of understanding history."They asked Juncker to take "clear political distance" from his spokesman's words, "be it in written or in a public speech."
You know, we often use the phrase "political correctness" as a set of taboos by which the leftists are constraining the people's freedom of speech. But it's obvious that such taboos may in principle be imposed not only by leftists – even though the leftists are those who are most excited about the restrictions on the freedom of speech these days. In principle, every society or community may define its red lines.
What Schinas and Juncker said and wrote is simply unacceptably political incorrect. Well, this wouldn't mean much. So I want to phrase this problem in a much more tangible way. What Schinas and Juncker have said is technically criminal according to the Czech law. You may read e.g. this story from 2000 about a guy who was promoting communism and had to face a trial. Among other things, the article says
Czech law bans the promotion of ideologies that aim to suppress basic human rights and freedoms, which communism as the Czech Republic experienced it before 1989 undoubtedly does. This, of course, is not the first case of propagation of hard-line communism in the Czech Republic. However, until now, the police only prosecuted far-right extremists, not left-wing radicals.Our laws simply prohibit the kind of a political behavior that is likely to result in the long-term suppression of basic constitutionally guaranteed human rights or democracy which could be similar to the long totalitarian epoch from 1939 to 1989 (with at most two short breaks). In practice, this law prohibiting the systemically anti-freedom political activities is mainly used to regulate and harass (mostly shy) teenagers who decided to become skinheads or would-be Nazis.
But the authors of the law have explicitly written that the communist totalitarian ideologies should be treated basically on equal footing with the fascist ones and a significant portion of the relevant people – if not a majority – absolutely agrees that these two ideologies should be legally considered to be on equal footing and the left-right asymmetry in the application of the law is unfair. For example, Schinas' denial of the fact that Castro was a criminal against humanity isn't too different from the denial of the Holocaust. Different people have different opinions about the degree to which these two sick attitudes are "the same" but there's no doubt about the fact that they're considered comparable.
You know, I have used the carefully chosen word "comparable" on a November 21st, 1989 meeting of the leaders and vice-chairmen of the Socialist Youth Union of every class (our class picked the chairman and me, a non-member and a dissident) of our high school who were writing a petition on behalf of our high school reacting to the beating of the students in Prague 4 days earlier. This event was ironically led by these kid-communists and the adult in the room was Ms Morávková, our (rather young) history teacher and the chairwoman of the communist party at the high school (who was driving a Mazda just a few years later). Our demands were basically a filtered subset of demands written by the students of the University of Western Bohemia (the names were different in 1989). When we discussed the point whether the Lidové noviny (then a dissident newspapers) should be liberated, Morávková argued that it was unacceptable – after all, with such a bad tolerance, we could allow Nazi publications, too. I got excited and told her that the ideology of her party's Rudé právo (official communist daily) was comparable to the Nazi ideology. She kicked me out of the meeting, some colleagues have slapped me as a hero, but I am absolutely confident that at most two days later, what I have said on that day was considered common sense or mainstream. The totalitarian ideologies and regimes were at least comparable. After all, Stalin has killed more people than Hitler. And be sure that Castro has executed many more people than Pinochet, too. (And we don't even add the difference that while Castro has crippled the Cuban economy, Pinochet has amazingly optimized the Chilean economy.)
You may imagine how shocked we may be when a spokesman of the chairman of the EU commission not only fails to apologize for the quote that might pretty much place Jean-Claude Juncker in jail if this aßhole dared to insert his stinky foot on the Czech territory. Instead, Schinas has more or less attacked the journalist who just pointed out that Castro was a mega-criminal. No, we're really not on the same frequency.
In fact, I think that even the Czech – largely unreformed – communist party hasn't ever used these great words of praise as Juncker. When it comes to his evaluation of this history, Juncker is a more hardcore Stalinist than the unreformed Czech communists. Well, I have an even better example. Even Slavoj Žižek, an unpleasant hardcore Slovenian/global Marxist, has said that Castro must be forgotten as soon as possible, largely because he has only shown his ability to destroy things but when the normal socialist everyday life began in Cuba, he didn't contribute a damn thing that would be both innovative and positive. When the likes of Žižek don't even consider talking about Castro's "heroism", why the hell the boss of the EU commission does?
Also, Raúl Castro banned naming of the streets after Fidel, reflecting Fidel's own wish, to prevent the building of a cult of personality. Why do we have "leaders" like Juncker who want to build that cult instead of relatively moderate and sensible commies such as the Castro brothers? ;-)
Let me recall that in the U.S., I've met lots of people who wore a T-shirt with Che Guevara, a Bolshevik mass killer who has murdered over a thousand of people with his own hand. You can't really find adult people who would wear these T-shirts in Czechia, not even if you search among adult commies. A teenager may be deluded and worship this kind of criminal stuff and he may sometimes get away with it. But it's pretty much universally agreed that such a teenager is immature and politically and morally perverse.
For example, I've been meeting Marcos Mariño, a staunch Spanish Marxist and very smart string theorist, who has picked a Che Guevara T-shirt, too. Of course, I didn't really give a damn. We were basically friends. Long before I knew him, I knew that lots of people in the West are so ignorant that they openly worship some of the šittiest symbols of communism and mechanisms underlying this ideology – and who would pay thousands of dollars for the Lenin-style books and memorabilia that didn't have the value of a penny after 1989 and we were recycling them by tons. But one necessary condition for this amazing tolerance of mine was that I considered Marcos Mariño and similar folks politically irrelevant and retarded older kids.
Jean-Claude Juncker is not one of those. He basically considers himself a top (unelected) political representative of the European continent. We simply cannot ignore when such a person tramples upon moral restrictions that are widely considered red lines in at least several nations of the European Union. Fidel Castro was a criminal who has ended or crippled very many lives and one national economy, it's immoral to lionize him, and it's just OK for very many people – including Christians – to celebrate on the day when he died. Nature has restored an infinitesimal fraction of justice – the rest is being compensated in hell if you believe that such a place exists at least in "some sense".