Big Bully, Little Bully
By Kamal Sunavala

Remember the fat kid, the big bully who always scared the little kids in school? Has anything changed? The world has daily reports of big bullies and little bullies throwing their weight around and crushing the simple folk. The last two weeks especially have shown what a little might and a lot of might can do or undo.

Let’s start with the fat bully who bullies the entire neighbourhood. The Romanians I know in Prague were thrilled when it was announced that their suffering nation would join the European Union. The euphoria has turned into a hang over. Why? It’s a repeat situation of the 2004 scenario. In 2004, when this country, along with nine other members was inducted into the snobbish and doubtful-in-value club, there were many criticisms regarding the attitude shown by the older EU member states to the younger kids. The big bullies like Germany and France announced that their borders would not be open for instant migration and labour for these new members. Ireland, Britain and Sweden were the only countries who said they would welcome the little guys. Unfortunately, now, Britain has joined the Ivy League of the big bullies. It has announced, thanks to a tottering, flaccid leadership, in-party fighting and the influence of poor international company that it would not be able to open its erstwhile welcoming doors to Romania and Bulgaria. What happened to Europe as one? And the ‘We are family’ theme song?

In the face of this bullying, taking up arms for his neighbours is Petr Nečas, the Labour and Social Affairs Minister. He, in turn, announced that since Romania and Bulgaria were going to join the European Union in January 2007, the Czech Republic would keep its borders open for workers from both countries. Nečas, whether he will actually be able to keep his promise or not, has made a bold statement. He said clearly that it was hypocritical to induct countries as new members and then treat them like step-children, without granting them the basic right to freely move for employment. He did temper the grandiose gesture with a warning that if things got out of hand, certain steps to curb the flow would be taken. Of course, it’s a highly debatable situation but every debate must be based on certain unshakeable issues. And the unshakeable issue is one of bullying. Hopefully, the big bullies will take note of the Czech Republic’s stance and recognise that while it is a country ridden with its own problems, it hasn’t forgotten how to be sensibly kind to its neighbours. Now let’s pray that when the time comes, it does not turn into a little bully and give the Romanians and Bulgarians the boot.

While the Czech Republic stands up to the big bullies outside, there are little bullies within the country, kicking the living daylights of defenceless people. The Roma controversy raises eyebrows, voices and arguments everywhere. However, the debate here isn’t about why or how they’re worthy or unworthy. It’s about the rule of law, subtle deceptions and, yes, bullying. Jiří Čunek, the mayor of Vsetín in South Moravia has been swiftly deporting Romas to other villages, literally in clandestine operations in the middle of the night. The two villages he has bumped them off to have outraged mayors who have blatantly called this move appalling and akin to deportation. “These people cause problems,” are Čunek’s words. These? Are they not yours? Are you not their mayor? Is it not their country? Is it fair to stick ten people in a damp and dilapidated house in the winter, which they had no right to inspect or choose for safety or hygiene and call it help? Rent defaulters in any country deal with the law under the rule of law. They are not bundled off, family et all, without consent or knowledge, like a flock of diseased sheep. What’s next? Dig a large ditch and dump them all in?

It’s easy enough to raise voices for the defenceless when the controversy is large or politically correct but what about what’s happening in your own home? How much confidence are we really giving the Romanians and Bulgarians, when we’re busy treating our own people, as if they were less than human beings?

Lyndon B. Johnson said: If you let a bully come into your front yard, he will be on your porch the next day, and the day after that, he’ll rape your wife in your own bed.

But what stops the bully from raping his own wife in his own bed?