Tag Archives: Roma

Telegraph blogs and the normalization of anti-Ziganism

The Roma Holocaust Memorial in Berlin

The Roma & Sinti Holocaust Memorial in Berlin. Pic courtesy of the BBC

A couple of years ago, I wrote how anti-Ziganism (racism against Roma, Sinti and other travellers) is still socially acceptable in Europe, while anti-Semitism is now seen as unacceptable (with certain exceptions – Hungary, for example). Since then, we’ve had the trashy Channel 4 series, My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, where viewers were invited to gawp and poke fun at travellers. We’ve also had the mass eviction of travellers from the Dale farm site outside Basildon. This prompted a rash of anti-Ziganist comments from the usual quarters. “If they’re travellers, then why aren’t they travelling?”, was just one of the many bigoted comments made.

So today as I’m reading one of Damian Thompson’s blogs, I came across these two comments.

Anti-Ziganist comment on Torygraph

“Palfreman” talks about “real Romanians”. I wonder if he knows anything about Romania other than the drivel he’s read in the Tory-supporting press?  He/she/it talks about “repatriation to India”. Does that sound familiar? People said the same thing in the 1970s.  It’s the language of the National Front and the Monday Club. But “Dalek_1963’s” comment uses the same language as the Nazis used about the Jews and Roma in the 1930s and talks about them as a form of contamination. He/she/it describes them as “third world savages”. The real “savages” are the knuckle-draggers who want to create a “pure” British nation; a limited gene pool in which they can cling onto their congenital defects.

I reported both of these comments and wasn’t surprised to see that both of them were still there. This is free speech, Torygraph-style.

But here’s what prompted those comments.

How much of our anxiety about Romanians flooding into Britain is actually about Roma gipsies? It’s a sensitive topic, as I discovered at a seminar devoted to it at the LSE. The lecturer deplored the obstacles faced by illiterate Roma in Britain. I suggested they should learn to read. It was one of those “I’ll get my coat” moments. Luckily the Government agrees with me and is taking radical steps to address the problem. Roma are now exempt from library fines for overdue books. And if they borrow a book from one library they can return it to another. Which, when you think about it, definitely makes sense.

You will notice how Thompson universalizes illiteracy with the Roma. There are plenty of Britons who cannot read and many of them are in our prisons.  Does Thompson know this? If he does, he won’t let on. This fear of a “flood” of immigrants from Romania and Bulgaria is not about those people per se, it’s about a disgust of the Roma; a people who have been persecuted for centuries.  Many perished in the Nazi death camps during WWII but there’s little mention of that in the Torygraph or elsewhere.

Last year, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, opened a memorial in Berlin to the Roma and Sinti victims of the Holocaust.  It has taken over 70 years for some kind of memorial to be built.

Meanwhile the abuse and persecution continues.

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Anti-Ziganism: the socially acceptable face of European racism?

Le Président de la République, Nicolas Sarkozy has expelled around 93 Roma from France. There are more deportations planned. To tell the truth, stories like this remind me of what I’d read about the 1930’s – during economically hard times, politicians and others will look for someone to blame.  In the mind of the xenophobe, the Roma are easy game because it is still socially acceptable to engage in anti-Gypsy prejudice. This announcement follows hot on the heels from the anti-Ziganist policies of The Greasy One in Italy 2 years ago. This blog illustrates Italy’s institutional racism.

Italy has found a scapegoat to blame its woes on.” This chilling indifference to the plight of Roma was displayed this summer on a beach in Naples after the drowning of two teenage Roma girls. After a sunbather put a blanket over the two corpses, other sunbathers on the beach continued to resume their activities as if nothing had happened, some even relaxing only a matter of feet away from the corpses. De-humanizing hatred towards the Roma is not an isolated incident. Gangs burned down Roma camps in Naples due to the uncertain allegation by an Italian woman that a Roma girl tried to steal her child. In some cases this racist behavior has not just been condoned by Italian politicians, but encouraged. Northern League leader Umberto Bossi declared before the pogroms that “it is easier to destroy rats as [to] wipe out the gypsies.”

Sokrazy seems to have taken this decision either alone or in a small group of like-minded ministers. The President of his party, the UMP,  is not pleased and his displeasure signals the possibility of more dissent in the ranks of the party. Francois Goulard has described the move as “ill though out” and “inhumane”.

Here’s a report from Al Jazeera

We should remember that Sarkozy stole a march on Le Pen’s Front National by adopting some anti-immigration measures that were designed to attract voters who would otherwise vote for the FN….just like Thatcher had done in this country in 1979.

There is no shortage of Daily Mail readers who agree with Sarkozy’s actions. One commenter opines,

And he does another thing our Government doesn’t have the backbone to do… Wish he was our PM.

“Michelle” from Southampton echoes the bigoted sentiments

Mr. S – any chance you could come over here and get rid of the burkas and illegal gypsy camps. I’d pay for your airfare!

You see, many Brits are with Sarko. In the UK, the Roma are also fair game and I have lost count of the many times people – some of them my friends – will use words like ‘Gypo’, ‘Pikey’ and so on to refer to someone who is a chancer. Now the coalition government and its supporters want to see the Equality and Human Rights Commission abolished. Why? Well, they won’t tell you the real reason, they’ll simply claim it’s to ‘save money’. Who says the Tories aren’t xenophobes?

For all those postmodernist politicians and others who think history doesn’t matter. Think again. In the 1930’s the Jews as well as the Roma were made into scapegoats for Germany’s economic failures. Of course, Germany wasn’t the only country to buy into this trend: it happened in France, Italy, Austria and yes, it happened here in Britain.

UPDATE 19/9/11

The Irish Travellers at Dale Farm near Basildon are currently in the process of being evicted by a council claiming that the nearby ‘greenbelt’ land is being compromised. Yet, the former occupant of the Dale Farm site was an ugly scrap yard. The United Nations has tried to intervene but the Tory-led coalition government has blocked any such move. As I write this, the local police have turned up to the Dale Farm site in riot vans.

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Filed under Anti-Ziganism, Europe