Friday, August 23, 2019

Czechia: where TV debates on Greta are still possible

DVTV is an Internet TV station – loosely cooperating with some more standard outlets – mainly consisting of interviews performed by two experienced (and very calm, perhaps boringly calm) hosts, Ms Drtinová and Mr Veselovský (that's where DV comes from). They are surely more "globalist" than the average Czech citizen. On the other hand, they do represent some kind of a "tolerable Czech mainstream journalism" which still significantly differs from the overtly activist journalists in most Western European and North American TV stations and outlets.

Emma Smetana's Notre-Dame "I Was There" photograph has provoked Czechs to create numerous parodies.

The third interviewer is an attractive babe named Ms Emma Smetana. Her surname is illegal – it violates the rules of the Czech grammar that we take rather seriously. Thankfully, the death penalty has been abolished in Czechia. Her father is Mr Smetana (literally "Cream", the same name as the famous composer of The Moldau) and her mother is Ms Pajerová, a 1989 student leader who married an Irishman after Mr Smetana, Mr Peter MacDonagh. Emma herself has married an Israel-Palestinian-Czech musician Mr Jordan Haj. Make no mistake about it: the percentage of foreigners in that family trumps the Czech average and a globalist bias in their opinions should be unsurprising.

OK, Emma has studied and lived abroad and to show how Cosmopolitan, emancipated, and superior relatively to the Czech plebs she is, she doesn't call herself Emma Smetanová – which is the correct feminine form of the name Smetana – but just Emma Smetana. It isn't just an isolated distortion of the grammar. It causes actual problems. No one is ever sure what the other forms-cases of the name are in the system of declension. When I meet her, did I meet "Emmu Smetana", "Emmu Smetanu", or "Emmu Smetanovou"? I would surely pick the latter because none of the previous things works. "Smetana" in the accusative sounds like I am treating a totally Czech word "smetana" as if it were extraterrestrial (and the case becomes invisible which may create ambiguities in the meaning); "Smetanu" indicates that she's either male like the composer, or the actual cream, and so on.

Even if she were French or Nigerian, the correct way to refer to her would be "Emma Smetanová", just like the U.S. First Lady is called "Melania Trumpová" by the Czech press. Emma Smetana's name seems like a complete detail but I do have a problem which is why I simply couldn't omit the previous paragraphs! Tear down this wall, Ms Emma, and fix your damn surname!

Fine, Emma Smetana invited two guys to talk about Greta, the alarmist Dr Bedřich Moldan and the climate skeptic Mr Vítězslav Kremlík:
Argument on Greta: the climate mafia has exploited her, we are scaring people by a climate apocalypse, Kremlík claims
I've met both men. Well, we were recording a 3-on-3 debate with a conservative journalist in between in which the two opposing teams included your humble correspondent and Dr Moldan, respectively. It ended up being less friendly than the debate above – and I think that it was the main reason why it wasn't ever published, as far as I know.

Mr Kremlík – a trained historian and translator – is an obvious ally of mine. He's extremely skillful in debating, knows the climate issues very well, has written lots of deep enough blog posts, created YouTube videos etc. and recently published a skeptical climate change book. I am honored to have been the most careful pre-publication reader of it. We're in some occasional contact, mostly through the Internet.

Dr Moldan used to be a minister – a green guy in the right-wing ODS party that I have rooted for between 1991 and 2019 (I mean for the party). He used to look incredibly rational, for a green guy, but I almost completely changed my mind a few years ago. He suddenly looked like a green fanatic who joined the ODS to spread the green religion to new places. Now he's a rather standard green, climate alarmist. In the exchange with Kremlík, he wasn't "lukewarm" but he still looked way less fanatical than many other people we have seen.

OK, let's review some parts of the debate

Emma Smetana started by explaining the topic. Greta is the most talked about girl, she is campaigning for a sharp turn towards some radical climate change solutions. She's heading to a New York climate conference on a yacht. Are we watching a manipulation where she's a victim, or an honest fight to save the world? She introduced the guests. So far so good, a natural and mostly balanced introduction to the debate.

"Do we need Greta Thunberg, Mr Moldan?" Smetana asked. He said "need" isn't the right word. After some pressure and persuasion by Smetana, he agreed that we need Greta Thunberg. ;-) And what do you think, Mr Kremlík? Kremlík doesn't like the strategy to be ashamed of flying in airplanes and eating meat etc., he doesn't want such a future for our kids, a future where only people who can afford a similar yacht can get to America. That's not a goal we should achieve. We should be proud of the 20th century achievements in the fight against poverty etc.

So far, Smetana boldly claimed, Thunberg isn't prohibiting anyone from doing anything. What's wrong about young student's emphasis on something that the scientists from the whole world have been talking... blah blah. She is remotely capable of asking inconvenient questions on both sides but you can see that these questions to Kremlík were the "natural ones" for her. You could see that she was an activist here, e.g. by the layers of the unnecessary propaganda-like details ("from the whole world") that were added to this otherwise legitimate question. Kremlík wasn't sure what to say for a few seconds and then he criticized the solutions proposed by them which want to rob the peoples of their prosperity.

Smetana quoted Kremlík's text saying that at her age, many kids can barely say a poem and she hasn't learned how to critically think. She doesn't have access to objective information. Now, the bombshell by Smetana: "Are you afraid of young people with an opinion so that you are using similar ad hominem attacks?" Wow. Kremlík has obviously also noticed that Smetana has used a nearly nuclear weapon. ;-) "I see, so this is where you want to go..."

OK, Kremlík started to explain the "choice of words". She is a girl that is being abused by her environment. Unsurprisingly, Smetana immediately interrupted: "How can you know that?" It's not just this single girl, a whole generation is being brainwashed, he responded. In the 1980s, we were also waving communist parade sticks and didn't know much what was actually going on in politics. Right. The youth is being told by us that the planet is dying etc. "I ask you how you found out that no one has allowed her to access the objective information".

Well, this comment by Smetana was already clearly unfair because Kremlík was demonstrably in the process of answering this very question. On top of that, it's cute that Smetana has implicitly criticized Kremlík for his deducing that something wrong is happening in Greta's privacy and he can't know it – but at the same moment, she used a totally analogous ad hominem speculation about the reasons why he wrote it, namely that he is afraid of the wonderful young people with an opinion. Quite a hypocrisy – and an über-journalist would clearly be desirable here to moderate her as well. He would probably ask Smetana: "How do you know that it's a good theory that Kremlík is afraid of young people with their own opinion just by looking at Kremlík's statement that it is not really her opinion but something pumped into her?" ;-)

OK, after another Smetana's question, Kremlík also toughened and pointed out that Greta suffers from the obsessive-compulsive disorder. Some people always had to sweep the window 100 times a day, he reminded us, and like others these days, she is anxious about the climate change instead. Right: it would be much more productive if she were cleaning the window 100 times a day instead of melting down because of the CO2 that she sees with her naked eyes 100 times a day. These people and kids are really suffering, Kremlík asserted. "Don't we have a plurality of opinions in the media?" Kremlík said that maybe in the 1950s, it could have been balanced but it's not now because the overwhelming majority of the media try to spread the panic.

There were other topics in the discussion, they agreed that it's wrong when the discussion is redirected to ad hominem issues surrounding Greta and environmental problems should be solved rationally and the money wasted for tiny reductions of CO2 emissions could solve many particular problems – well, Kremlík said it and Moldan at least didn't protest too loudly.

I mostly forgot what Moldan said – mostly general clichés about the existence of climate change or externalities, nothing innovative. Sorry if I forgot something. Meanwhile, Kremlík was discussing the topic of the green mafias, e.g. the photovoltaic mafia, abusing our children etc. It was rather colorful but he remained completely calm. Moldan agreed that India and others have also made some progress in the economy, public health etc.

Well, I remember a cute answer by Mr Moldan. Smetana said that it was a mistake for Thunberg to use a yacht as well as the kilograms of the plastic in which the exotic fruits were packed on her trips etc. What do you think about these errors, Mr Moldan? He said they were wonderful symbols which were so nice and he would do exactly the same thing as Greta if he could be he is certainly not Greta Thunberg to do it so well. ;-) He completely misunderstood why others, including Ms Smetana in this case, considered these non-green behavioral patterns "mistakes"!

Dr Moldan is a very green ecologist but from many perspectives, the host Emma Smetana – normally assumed to be neutral – was a stauncher green activist than Moldan. Well, she's younger and probably has more energy than Moldan but it's not necessarily the full explanation. It's a pretty frequent phenomenon that in the left-right debates, the journalist who should be neutral is visibly more extremely left-wing than the left-wing participant, isn't it? At least, Smetana was less green than Moldan at one moment when she understood (while he didn't) that with her plastic packaging, Greta was a hypocrite.

Smetana is intrinsically analogous to the MSNBC and similar hosts in the West. But she works in a context where the MSNBC behavior just wouldn't work for her or her bosses. So she's pressed by the naturally rational, non-fanatical Czech society to be much more objective than what she would be in another, more polarized and less ideologically tolerant, environment. Let me say that although she is a globalist activist of a sort, I think that Emma Smetana is an appropriate person with skills to be a journalist – and not just because she's pretty.

Even with "not really balanced folks like her", the Czech basin is one of the last places on Earth where a relatively calm and intelligent debate of the two sides about similar topics remained possible. Thank God. It's paradoxical that I have to thank God for this divine gift to Czechia, the world's most irreligious country ;-), but it's true. Some observers said that this debate has completely gotten out of Smetana's control but what I just watched was a smooth, safely navigated, properly ending, and friendly encounter dedicated to a tense topic. I've seen – and participated at – much more unmanageable, unusable, and explosive debates, of course LOL. Kremlík has even certified that Moldan wasn't a member of the mafias, he was just wrong about some things – and Moldan's face couldn't hide that Moldan felt flattered. I am not sure whether I could be as generous as Kremlík but in some sense, I think it's right that a diplomat of Kremlík's type represents us in such debates.

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