I left Slovakia over a year ago basically for the reasons outlined in the editorial ["Looking away and the far right", Letter from the editor, Vol.8 No.16, April 29 to May 5]. In my opinion, the Slovak nation is morally impoverished. And don't get me wrong, my personal experience has shown that so is the Czech nation; it has little to do with nationality. The 40-or-so years of totalitarian rule both countries experienced have planted ignorance deep in the personal characteristics of the Czechs and Slovaks.
If freedom of speech ceased to exist in Slovakia today, no-one would notice as few individuals choose to exercise it. What's even worse, the freedom of speech is far more often abused by racists and nationalists than put to a good purpose.
Regarding the far right generally, I see it as a combination of problems in Slovakia: the existence of the radicals, the existence of the silent consenting majority, and of the silent dissenting minority.
I will take things to an extreme: Yes, Slovaks are for the greater part racists and nationalists. This can be most vividly illustrated by their general attitude towards the Roma and Hungarians. It's too sad, this is a perverted way of reinforcing the ego of a nation.
To conclude, the question "Is the nation really so morally impoverished?" should be asked in Slovakia over and over again. Although it won't move the radicals, there's a chance that it will appeal to the silent consenting majority to review their moral standards and make the silent dissenting minority realise that the good "voice of a nation" only exists when it is heard. And while many Western countries are probably morally impoverished as well, why not give Slovakia a chance to lead positively for a change?
13. May 2002 at 0:00