Tereza Bottman

Teresa Bottman (Dzeno Association): Teresa immigrated to the US from the Czech Republic in her early teens. She then dedicated herself to understanding immigrants and marginalized youth and worked for Slavic American Youth Zane, an online magazine of writing and art by Russian-speaking American youth; Community Art Share, a showcase of artists from underrepresented group; and Czechs in America, a bilingual pod cast highlighting the experiences of Czech immigrants in the US. Teresa holds a Master’s of Education degree from Portland State University. At the time of her fellowship she was teaching high school Language Arts, English-as-a-Second-Language and Drama in Portland, Oregon. After her fellowship Teresa wrote: “I fell in love with human rights journalism. The fellowship was an incredible experience. I learned a lot, became more confident about my ability to interview people and present issues in an in-depth and informed way."



American Neocon-Christian Right Ideology Makes Inroads into Czech Politics with PM’s Advisor Choice

18 Aug

He opposes affirmative action because it unfairly privileges those from “special” groups over others, and because, as he says, there is no need to rehash things for which we, alive today, are not responsible. He claims there is no systemic discrimination, and thus no need for corrective measures improving the lives of the marginalized, including the Roma, in the Czech Republic, even though scores of international studies have shown otherwise. He is not happy anti-discrimination legislation was instituted in this country, because it essentially “dictates how people in their private spheres should conduct themselves.” He deems homosexuality abnormal, likening gay people to pedophlies, zoophiles and necrophiles. He defends the use of torture, including waterboarding, and is not opposed to the installment of a right-wing, authoritarian regime if Western civilization and liberty are under threat.

Meet Roman Joch, director of the conservative think-tank Civic Institute (Občanský institut), and new advisor selected by Prime Minister Nečas for the area of human rights and foreign relations.

What Joch’s post as an advisor to the Prime Minister means is that, come September when he is slated to start, the American Neoconservative-Christian Right alliance, through its long-cultivated mouthpiece in the Czech Republic, will have a direct say in the formation of both, foreign and domestic policy.

This is not a new phenomenon, as other CI personalities have been in advisory positions in the government before. It is nonetheless an alarming turn of events for those concerned with the dire human rights situation of the marginalized groups, especially the Roma who face systemic discrimination in nearly every sector, including housing, labor, and education.

This information is taken from Joch’s 2007 bio for his fellowship at the California-based Claremont Institute, a conservative think-tank whose mission is “to restore the principles of the American founding fathers to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life,” and to establish a limited and accountable government that respects private property, promotes stable family life, and maintains a strong national defense:

Joch lectures and writes on political philosophy, international relations, and national security issues in Czech and Slovak newspapers, magazines and electronic media. From 1994-1998, he was International Secretary of the Civic Democratic Alliance, a conservative political party in the Czech Republic. Joch was a member of the student movement during the Velvet Revolution in 1989, an international visitor to the Republican National Convention in 1996, and a delegate to the First International Conservative Congress in 1997.

He is the author of two books, Why Iraq? Causes and Consequences of the Conflict and The Revolt Against the Revolution of the Twentieth Century, an intellectual biography of American conservative. He holds an M.D. from Charles University in Prague.

Evidently, Joch and his Civic Institute team have taken it upon themselves to, in concert with their ideological allies from abroad, cultivate contemporary Western society, to save it from ignorance, poor taste and vulgarity.

He is a cultural warrior, fighting to bring back traditional family values and “objective“ morality rooted in Christian values. At the same time, his mission is to ensure the Czech Republic aligns itself completely with pro-US interests in the region. After all, his institute and publishing house are being bankrolled largely by American neo-conservative and Christian Right foundations such as Earhart Foundation a William H. Donner Foundation in conjunction with right-wing Czech industrialists. The American defense contractor Lockheed Martin even financed the Civic Institute, where Joch is director, during the time the US was negotiating a sale of F16 fighter jets to the Czech Republic.

The CI Advisory Board boasts such personalities as neoconservative Michael Horowitz of the Hudson Institute, who served as general counsel for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Reagan Administration. Also on the Board is Michael Novak of the conservative think-tank American Enterprise Institute, whose scholars were considered to be some of the leading architects of George W. Bush administration’s public policy.

According to the European Conservative:

The roots of the CI can be traced back to the late 1970s and early 1980s when the dissidents met in their homes to discuss politics, philosophy, economics, theology, culture and international relations. After the fall of Communism, they decided to found an institute to carry on those discussions. (…)

The founders of the CI intended it to be an institution dedicated to the advocacy and vindication of the moral conditions and philosophical foundations necessary for a free society. (…)

Its first publication was a Czech translation of Friedrich Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom. (…)

The CI began cooperating and networking with many other pro-family and pro-life institutions around the world, publishing studies and policy papers. (…)

After 11 September 2001, the CI preserved its pro-family orientation, though in less explicitly religious terms and added international relations, foreign affairs, security issues, Islamic terrorism and existential threats to the West to its portfolio of issues.

The CI has published studies and organized dozens of conferences and seminars around issues like U.S. foreign policy, the role of America in the world, the war against Islamic terrorism, missile defense, Islam in Europe and demographic challenges in the West.

Joch and his colleagues have clearly set up a mini training laboratory from which they send out ordained warriors to spread their gospel-flavored cocktail of traditional Christian values and right-wing pro-American political agenda.

The European Conservative continues:

CI fellows serve as commentators in Czech media, contributing op-eds to newspapers and magazines or speaking out on political issues on radio and television.

CI fellows serve as advisors to several Czech statesmen. The director of CI (was) a member of the Academic Council of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs and served as advisor to the former Czech deputy prime minister for European affairs. (…)

Many alumni of CI events have gone on to careers in media as columnists; in politics as aspiring politicians or staffers to senior politicians; or in academia as assistant professors or professors.

(CI members) enjoy their position as a ‘happy warrior,’ pushing the public and intellectual discourse – and the whole society – as far to the right as is reasonably possible. Born out of the resistance to Communist totalitarianism and having opposed socialism and moral relativism, the CI now fights against the ideologies of multiculturalism, radical feminism and political correctness. They fight for Western traditions and values and, above all, for ordered liberty.

Approximately a hundred protesters gathered this morning in front of the Office of the Government in Prague to protest the appointment of Joch on the Prime Minister’s advisory team. The appointment has been criticized by leading Czech scholars and human rights activists, including Students Against Racism and the newly formed government opposition initiative, ProAlt.

“We are here to say we reject Mr. Joch, whose concept of human rights is, according to us gathered here, unfortunate,“ said one of the protesters.

During the demonstration, a contest was held for the most ridiculous quote by Joch. The winner was this quote, endorsing the possibility of installing “a right-wing authoritative regime,“ if “Western civilization were threatened with destruction caused by the political and intellectual impotence of the Left,“ or “by the inner disintegration, or abandonment of civilized values and virtues in favor of the freely flourishing venting of lust and passion.“

The intent and the connection between CI’s activities and those of their American counterparts are clear. It is up to the Prime Minister to decide whether he wants to continue to endorse this type of anti-democratic, bigoted, hegemonistic agenda despite the protests from human rights advocates and minority leaders.

***

A petition against Joch’s appointment as advisor to the Prime Minister has been initiated and can be found here.

Also, to read about how neoconservatives secretly forged an alliance with the Christian Right during the Bush presidency, go to this 2007 interview with investigative journalist Craig Unger by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now.

Posted By Tereza Bottman

Posted Aug 18th, 2010

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