No Apology

About 4 years ago, I was talking with a friend who moves in political circles. “If they ever want to bring down Gross, then they should ask him where he got the money for his apartment.” This friend told me that Stanislav Gross received a suitcase with millions in cash, with the stipulation that upon becoming Interior Minister, he must fire both the head of the police and the head of BIS (Czech Intelligence Services) and replace them with more “favorable” persons. These persons would then back off investigating scandals such as that involving former head of Television Nova, now MEP Vladimír ??elezný , and also ensure that the now defunct opposition agreement between the Social Democrats and Civic Democrats would not be subjected to any “rough waters”.

And so, Gross became Interior Minister, and subsequently removed the above persons from office, keeping his end of the deal. Though the “briefcase affair” will probably never be proven, there are two logical reasons to support it. First, Gross would not have to subsequently create his own internal secret police unit, unless he knew that the new existing chiefs whom he installed not only did not “belong” to him, but would forever hold the sword of Damocles above his head. Thus, Gross was forced to form his “own” secret information-providing team, which went under the codename of Mlýn (meaning mill), so as to find swords that he could hang over the heads of his political opponents. The second reason is that try and wiggle as hard as he could, Gross simply could not come up with an adequate explanation of where he got the money.

After the scandal emerged, Gross apologized for his poor explanation of events leading up to his purchasing an apartment for millions on the salary of a state employee. Not an apology for lying, or for the fact that he, as an inexperienced, feeble and corrupt child made a mockery of politics at the highest level and contributed to the present Czech mindset, where the abnormal remains normal.

From premier to citizen, Czechs eschew the apology. During the years of totality, an apology for anything (except of course, for stating subversive views) became totally useless. Since quality, punctuality, ethics, or coming late did not matter, since you could not be thrown out of work, and since a bribe and not manners opened doors, the apology became not only useless, but a sign of weakness. So it continues to this day. Many Czechs don’t like to apologize for anything, because everyone else is stupid, except of course, them.

In recent weeks, Gross has virtually disappeared from the headlines. Though he remains the figurehead of his Social Democratic party, even this may change soon. He need not however, fear a real investigation, criminal proceedings, or worst of all having to make a candid and honest apology to his nation, one, which would move the culture of politics forward by a huge and unprecedented margin. Such expectations would truly be abnormal.


The New Presencesummer 2005

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