The Czech Legion

The Czech Legion

Get ready for one of the wildest stories you never heard…

Midst the chaos of World War One and the Russian Revolution, 70,000 Czech and Slovak P.O.Ws switched sides. They became The Czechoslovak Legion – an Allied army fighting for a country of their own – Czechoslovakia. They captured half the Trans-Siberian Railway, half the Czar’s gold, and the heart of a new nation.

…And it’s all true.

Here’s the Wikipedia page, if you wanna check that out. And here’s a version of the Czech Legion history that’s less confusing than wiki’s.

The Exciting Times V.3

I’ve divided today’s issue into sections. Oh boy!

Overseas

The Czech people are celebrating the collapse of American plans to put (more) American military equipment in their country! Go Czechs!

Idiot far-right German political party NPD sent offensive letters to “parliamentary candidates of immigrant heritage, telling them to go home.” It’s part of their cynical plan to stir up the not-properly-riled dormant xenophobic neo-nazi element in German society to vote for NPD in future elections.

Good news for the gheyz!

Not only does Nevada’s same-sex Domestic Partnership Registry Act take effect today, but the ban on same-sex marriage in Texas was declared unconstitutional!

So Topical!

Homeless American Girl dollEd Kilgore wrote about David Brooks and anti-anti-racism. Did you read what he calls Brooks’ “unintentionally hilarious column”?

American Girl debuts “Gwen”, their new homeless doll! How topical! Here’s a snippet of her story:

Gwen and her mother Janine fell on hard times when her father lost his job; they later lost the house as they were unable to keep up payments. Soon after, Gwen’s father left them and they became homeless the fall before the start of the book’s events.

LOL your post-racial America!

(got that title from Shakesville btw)
US attorney Jim Greenlee in Mississipi targeted convenience store owners based only on the evidence that their names sound Muslim. Not like kinda on the DL, but as a stated initiative. The Convenience Store Initiative, to be precise.

Of the more than 100 people listed as being investigated by federal authorities, nearly every name appears to be Islamic. FBI officials would not comment.

FAIL. Good thing my pals at Mississippi Immigrants Rights Association are ON IT.

ANNnnnd to cap it all off with the worst thing ever: a white woman claiming to be an immigration officer stabbed an immigrant woman and stole her 4-day-old baby. This Yair Anthony Carrillohappened yesterday in Tennessee to mother Maria Gurrolla. Her missing baby’s name is Yair Anthony Carrillo. Investigators said:

“The child was taken by a white female who was posing as an immigration worker. She had come to the residence and demanded the mother give her the baby. When the mother refused to comply she stabbed the mother approximately 8 times.”

Czechs, the Natural Skeptics

Uphill Fight for Pope Among Secular Czechs:

“If the pope wants to create a religious revival in Europe, there is no worse place he could come to than the Czech Republic, where no one believes in anything,” said Jaroslav Plesl, a self-confessed lapsed Catholic who is deputy editor of Lidove Noviny, a leading daily newspaper here. “Add to that the fact that the pope is German and socially conservative and he might as well be an alien here.”

Also…

Pope CondomThe main event of the pope’s visit is an open-air Mass in Brno on Sunday in the country’s Roman Catholic heartland. During the trip, a group called Condom Positive said it planned to distribute condoms with a likeness of the pope and the question, “Papa said no! And You?”

I want one! Someone send me a condom with the Pope’s face on it! I can’t think of anything that would encourage chastity more.

The Prague Monitor has more about the protests:

Representatives of Czech gay and lesbian groups have also announced protests against the Pope’s position on condoms which they intend to stage during Benedict XVI’s stay in the Czech Republic.

They will meet on Prague’s Wenceslas Square on Monday, on the last day of the Pope’s visit to express their disagreement with the Pope’s alleged “policy of genocide.”

Organisers of the Mezipatra (Mezzanine) gay and lesbian film festival that is annually held in the Czech Republic are participating in the preparation of the protests.

Some history of our skepticism for ya, courtesy NYT:

Religious experts have noted that the Czechs’ abiding religious skepticism stretches to the 15th century, when Jan Hus, a revolutionary preacher, preached against what he saw as the corrupted practices of the church at a time when indulgences absolving sins were up for sale. Hus, whose teachings anticipated the Protestant Reformation, was burned at the stake and is a hero to many Czechs. In 1999, John Paul called Hus’s violent death “a sorrowful page” in Czech history.

Czech antipathy for the Roman Catholic Church was fanned further during the Austrian-Hungarian Empire in the 19th and early 20th centuries, religious scholars say, when the church supported the emperor’s efforts to repress Czech nationalism.

Gee. I miss the good ol’ days of John Paul. I kinda liked him. Because despite all our natural skepticism and stuff, my family has been Catholic for as long as there is recorded history of us. So I grew up thinking quite highly of JPII. BTW no one in my family likes Ratzinger. See? We don’t even call him Benedict.

Why My Name Is The Czech

…And I’m back!

After some months away, I have decided to fire up the ol’ blog again and see how it goes. If safety becomes an issue, I will just stop again.

So I thought a good way to start this new chapter would be an explanation of my name. I chose it for a hodge podge of reasons. I identify strongly with my immigrant roots. My family has been bumping around the United States for a couple generations now, but we have retained a connection with our country of origin and I have retained a sense of my history in this country as a descendant of immigrants. I don’t want to forget that there were peoples here before the white man, people who are still here. It is partially out of deference to them that I identify as Czech-American.

My name also has to do with my white privilege. My Czech descendants were light-skinned, and so am I. (Not all Czechs appear “white”.) Czechs have not always been considered white. A certain German dictator had a special name for us: Minderwertige Rasse (“less-worthy race”), insinuating that we were not the white race, we were something else, something less-than.

That is mostly behind Czechs now. In America, we get white-skin privilege, regardless of that history. And I want to own the fact that I receive that privilege, however unwillingly, and the responsibility that bestows upon me. So I make my identity very clear through my screen name. There will be no mistake when I am in anyone’s space- I cannot ignore my white privilege and try to fly under the radar in spaces created by people of color. I will have to confront it all the time, and check myself with each comment.

Czech Center New York

Czech Centre New York

The Film Walrus tipped me off to an amazing thing, the Czech Center of New York! Hoo-rah!

On Wednesday they’re screening a 1920s Czech Silent film, The Little False Cat (Falešna kočička). They also have programs on Czech documentaries, Czech photography, Czech architecture and Czech music. I hope they’re looking for volunteers!

From the website:

Since 1995, the Czech Center New York has been building dialogue among the Czech Republic and the American public particularly in the areas of culture, business and tourism. The Czech Center New York is primarily focused on presenting the latest and most innovative works of Czech Artists to the U.S.