The Roma

Discussion in 'Politics' started by helgaleena, Sep 11, 2010.

  1. helgaleena

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    My favorite band Iron Maiden played for the first time this summer in Cluj, Transylvania, a place of anti-Roma discrimination according to this article

    Sam Beck: The Persecution of the Roma

    Also France has begun 'repatriating' Roma to Romania, whether they come from there or not.

    In Slovakia an unemployed nut killed a Roma family with a machine gun, then several other neighbors, then himself. The neo-Nazi web pages there are calling him a hero. I have ancestors from Slovakia, including a greatgreat grandma whose last name translates as 'ironworker', one of the Roma traditional occupations. Slovakia has the third largest populations of Roma after Romania and Bulgaria. When Slovakia was Nazi, many Roma were disposed of, not only Jews.

    Oh Transylvania 666! Europe has its very own 'untouchables' and underclass. What will happen to them?
     
  2. vince

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    I was reading an article this yesterday about the French government deciding to "send them back where they came from". Seems the EU parliament is all up in arms about it and the French are unhappy with the EU for telling them what to do.

    There are some elections coming up and Sarkozy has been channeling Jan Brewer.
     
  3. Bbucko

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    Every time I attempt to post a reply to this thread, I find myself in the grips of a cultural prejudice I wouldn't have otherwise believed possible with "enlightened" old me. This is my fourth attempt :redface:

    So I'm just gonna say that stereotyping and scapegoating an entire culture and group of people is a Fascist trick and I'll have to sort through my very mixed feelings privately.

    As to France: though in reality it means nothing, Gitaines are second only to Gauloises among iconic brands of French cigarettes, and the Roma have been part of the streetscape of Paris for centuries. Deportations...resettlements...whatever: it's one of the clearest examples in recent memory of a very ugly strain of French populist nationalism which is loathsome from any angle.
     
  4. D_Tim McGnaw

    D_Tim McGnaw Account Disabled

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    That's right, and the way France has treated immigrants from North and Sub-Saharan Africa in last couple of decades has been pretty damn shoddy too.

    It seems that not only does the defence of the "French" way of life extend to marches to protect the worker from 50 hour weeks and burning sheep imported from Britain but also to absolute contempt for anyone deemed not sufficiently French seeming.

    I think the problem for France is that it was never forced to expiate the ghosts of WWII in the way Germany and Austria were, it's own colaborative, quasi-fascist Vichy government was never properly rejected or deemed out of bounds. I think this has bred the notion that French fascism and extreme nationalism/racism is some how OK, where other forms are not.

    The recent bouts of Roma persecution are a deeply disgusting reminder of the Pogroms and ethnic persecutions which have dogged Europe for centuries, and an ugly stain on a country I otherwise love.
     
    #4 D_Tim McGnaw, Sep 11, 2010
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2010
  5. Bbucko

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    Bulls-eye, Hilly.

    I think it was in the French/Headscarf thread where I recounted a late-afternoon brunch that I was invited to shortly after having arrived in Paris. Despite the fact that everyone in the room was very lefty (in that French kinda way), there was a strong undercurrent of nationalism that included, at one point, the suggestion that "Being French is more than just being born here", and at the time noted the irony that such a comment was coming from a non-observant Jew :rolleyes:

    In their mind's eye, the period between 1939 and 1945 has been mythologized into nothing but martyrdom, victimhood and la Résistance. The same, painful self-examination that took place in W Germany never happened there and I doubt it ever really will; even the US at least acknowledges that Japanese-Americans were interred in prison camps during WW2, much as we'd like to brush it all under the carpet.

    Needless to say, during my time there, any mention of Vichy or culpability on a national scale for the deportation and execution of hundreds of thousands of French Jews was deemed evidence of my sub-par American education :wink:
     
  6. D_Tim McGnaw

    D_Tim McGnaw Account Disabled

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    It's fascinating how much the French have sublimated and excised from the story of WWII. I remember years ago visiting Les Invalides to see the tomb of Napoleon (camp beyond words just btw) and wandered around the museum there for some time looking at the various displays about the fallen and heroic in various great wars in which France participated, of course there was an extensive display in a prominent position about the Resistance, WWI, the Franco-Prussian war, etc etc, and then I found myself completely lost in some dimly lit and dusty corridor miles from anywhere, looking at cabinets containing the relics and ephemera of those who had fought and died for Vichy France.

    It was clear that these cabinets were completely ignored, not reviled or even publicly displayed as part of the general public discourse about the second world war as were the cabinets of the Resistance, but utterly and completely forgotten, and overlooked as though these stories were not worth the slightest bit of examination.

    Needless to say I was fascinated and shocked, but it taught me something valuable about French culture.
     
    #6 D_Tim McGnaw, Sep 11, 2010
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2010
  7. Jason

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    The British Isles once had significant gypsy populations both Roma and Shelta - two different ethnicities but frequently treated together by legislation and together termed gypsies. Today in the British Isles the number of ethnic Roma and Shelta living the traditional lifestyle is tiny (there are new age travellers, but they are mostly distinct from the traditional gypsies).

    The decline in the gypsy lifestyle is found from 1918 through to the 1960s, little more than a generation. The vast majority of gypsies both Roma and Shelta have settled and assimilated with the rest of the British Isles population. The process was in part a decision by the people, in part carrot and stick legislation. There most certainly were problems with the process. However very few today would wish to see it undone. The gypsy lifestyle is incompatible with providing education for children, has much higher mortality rates including higher infant mortality, and is a group of people largely outside of the tax system theough receiving benefits and health care. The romance of the Romany Rye must be balanced against the realities of poverty.

    Surely what will happen to the Roma in Central and Eastern Europe is that they will settle and assimilate, just as their cousins in the British Isles have done. This has to be the way forward. But the settlement and assimilation is most practical in the area where they are already established. The idea of substantial Roma migrations to France (or anywhere) for settlement in a different culture is wrong for everyone, most of all for the Roma. Maybe the EU should be putting pressure on Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and others to provide the support the Roma need and which EU legislation in theory guarantees these countries will provide.
     
  8. helgaleena

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    There are clans of Shelta in the USA who practice child marriage, but our land is so large that like the polygamous Mormons they can stay largely away from the mainstream.

    The surname of one famous Slovak American-- Roger Zelazny the science fiction writer- is the surname which means 'iron worker'. Speaking of irony, there is a family of Roma called Sarkosczi, very similar to this heinous French politician.

    Integration into the host population is a worthy goal. Even my beloved Finland is wrestling with how to integrate an influx of Roma who are being used as professional beggars. It is not an accepted occupation among the pre-existing Roma minority of Finland and makes many average Finns uncomfortable. Soon it will be illegal.

    Sadly the major obstacle to citizenship there is the requirement to learn Finnish!
     
  9. Drifterwood

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    Mika siis on ongelma? :tongue:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/w...s-frances-shame-in-the-holocaust-1917807.html

    "In other words, it took France half a century to face up to its part in the persecution, and slaughter, of Jews by the Nazis. It took more than three decades before the subject could be openly addressed. The celebrated 1969 Swiss documentary movie Le Chagrin et Le Pitié by Marcel Ophuls – on collaboration and the persecution of Jews in Clermont Ferrand – was banned from French screens until 1981. "
     
    #9 Drifterwood, Sep 12, 2010
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2010
  10. helgaleena

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    Se on vain ongelma idiootteja. That is, it is a problem for stupid people, who are the majority of humans. If they can stand to be in Finland, and eat that strange food, in the dark and cold, okay.

    In that they are much like the Swiss.
     
  11. Jason

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    Most European Roma do speak a dialect of Roma, but there are significant differences between these dialects. Roma from different areas may or may not be able to communicate together, so a long-term Roma community and an incoming Roma community may well not integrate at all. I don't think Romanian Roma and French Roma (for example) would find communication in Roma easy though it may be just about possible.

    Most (all?) do speak the language of their host nation. For example Roma in Slovakia do speak Slovakian, often as a first language, and many speak German (many frequently travel into Austria). There are substantial difficulties in the way of their full integration within Slovakian society - but there are even greater difficulties in their integration into another society where they know little or nothing of the language. Learning Finnish is an extreme example of a language challenge, yet the challenges of learning any language are substantial.

    The way forward is surely integration in the place where they are now living. What is not acceptable is for countries in Central and Eastern Europe to "solve" their Roma "problem" by making their lives unpleasant forcing internal migration within the EU. It seems to me that the French policy is half-baked because it is not accompanied by robust representations to Romania and others that they must cease de facto persecution of the Roma. If the EU ideal means anything, then laws protecting citizens must apply as much in Romania (and Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria) as anywhere else in the EU. France could be leading the campaign for just this, demanding that these countries act properly (and face EU sanctions if they don't). I imagine many nations would support such a drive. But simple expulsion of the Roma by France is not right.

    The UK integration of the Roma had problems (for which the UK should be censored) but it also had elements that were right. Today almost all Roma in the UK have seamlessly integrated within UK society (and the few remaining with a traditional lifestyle have found a niche). We need Slovakia, Romania et al to look towards a comparable integration.
     
  12. B_RedDude

    B_RedDude New Member

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    All I know about them is that a group of them was waiting to roll me when I was changing money at the Prague train station a number of years ago. The guy in the booth noticed and interrupted the transaction until they took off.

    This statement, however, does not indicate any true prejudice. I honestly know very little about them as a people. I just remember reading the warnings in travel guides.
     
    #12 B_RedDude, Sep 12, 2010
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2010
  13. Jason

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    The traditional Roma lifestyle was based around regular travelling for seasonal work, often agricultural. Roma were paid in cash and kind and were an integral part of society - the last remnant in Europe of the age-old interaction between agriculturalists and nomads. Today we don't permit this sort of cash economy. And we have problems with a group who neither pay tax nor are in a position to receive many of the benefits that come from taxation. As a consequence many of the Roma have been pushed into crime. This may always have been at the edges of Roma society but traditionally it was not central. It is very sad.
     
  14. D_Gunther Snotpole

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    In Aix-en-Provence, in France, I was once surrounded by roughly a dozen Roma children, probably averaging age 10, all acting like they totally loved me, laughing and touching me everywhere (well, not everywhere), no doubt hoping to get a hand on my wallet.
    I had to get very aggressive to get them to back off.

    On the other hand, one May I went to Les-Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer on the Mediterranean coast for the gypsy festival honoring Saint Sarah, the patron saint of the Roma.
    The young Roma children told me that no one would even think of swindling me during the festival, and it seemed true enough.
    I enjoyed my time there hugely.
     
  15. B_crackoff

    B_crackoff New Member

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    There's not a hint of irony here.

    French Nationalism is abused, whilst the supposed cultural identity of the Roma is lauded.

    Their total lack (apart from a small percentage) of desire to assimilate & retain their cultural identity is in no way different to that of the French.

    It'd wholly amusing that those who attack & jeer at other's protective cultural sentiments, defend a group that loathe any other lifestyle other than their own, & refuse any integration,clearly defining the Roma as racists & bigots themselves.

    Application of an ethical code shouldn't carry exceptions.
     
  16. helgaleena

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    Application of an ethical code shouldn't carry exceptions.


    Whose ethical code, crackoff? France is flouting the ethical codes of EU which says that citizens of member nations can travel freely among EU nations. Rounding up whole neighborhoods of people who are not breaking any laws is pogrom.

    If there are criminals there, take them to jail in the usual way! If they are in need of social services, cough them up.
     
  17. Jason

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    France is flouting EU law. But France is not the sole or even the biggest wrongdoer in this sorry episode. The overwhelming problem is that the Roma feel so abused in the lands where they live that they are willing to migrate to a country with a different language and where there are no jobs for them. We are seeing what are in effect EU internal refugees fleeing from a highly abusive environment (in Romania, Slovakia and elsewhere) to what they perceive as a less abusive environment in France.

    France is in an impossible position. Integration of French Roma within France is happening - not as quickly as we would like, not without problems, but it is happening. There are far fewer living the nomadic lifestyle than say a generation ago. Integration of Romanian and Slovakian Roma within France will take far longer and create far more difficulties. It isn't right for the Roma, for France or for the EU.
     
  18. midlifebear

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    The Roma or "Roms" as they often refer to themselves have almost disappeared from the streets of the larger cities in Spain. (They never succeeded in the small pueblos because of immediate discrimination.)

    The Spanish government, since 2001, has used the local police to round up and identify as many Roms as possible, forcing them to have government IDs and register their place of residence just like all other Spaniards. Then, the social services backed by the police, have rounded up their children and marched them off to school. Those who do not attend school are ferreted out and their families are fined. Those who have not been able to live with this arrangement with the government have migrated to France -- without papers -- via Bilbao and other cracks in the Pyrenees. Although a few Roms are still to be found plying their trade (pick pocketing) along las Ramblas, the Metro is astonishingly free of the Rom women who would take turns carrying the same infant back and forth on all the Metro cars begging for money.

    My favorite Rom, who is an old close friend, threw her hands up and declared she couldn't possibly live in Spain any longer because of the government's policies. That was about 8 years ago. She now lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in rather plush colonial spanish adobe digs telling fortunes and giving readings over the telephone. She has maintains a monthly classified ad in the New Yorker with a 900 number, plus she adds additional charges depending upon what the tony old and susceptible women on Manhattan's Upper East Side demand of her.

    If you wish to see one of the most ironic pseudo assimilations of Roms and Shels in any community, just take a vacation in Spokane, Washington. I have a very dispassionate and generally racist 1st cousin who owns his own pharmacy in that odd city. He is constantly amazed that all the Roms who come into his pharmacy bearing scripts and State paperwork underwriting their medical care all drive full-size Lincolns, Cadillacs, Mercedes, and BMWs with car dealer plates on them. 'Tis a mystery.
     
  19. helgaleena

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    You see? having a medical card someplace is a good thing! And any ethnicity can produce criminals.

    I lived homeless for a while in my younger days and the most nerve-wracking place to be homeless is somewhere you are not legally entitled to exist. Setting foot back in the land where I had a numbered identity on file was marvelous, despite all hurdles to get there.
     
  20. Jason

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    Surely this is correct action. We live in societies that believe in education for all children as a right. Spain is right to ensure that Roma children go to school.
     
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