Thursday, November 21, 2013

Anti-Roma Prejudice And Noticing Group Differences

The Roma people have endured awful persecution for generations- most famously they were one of the groups targeted for extermination by Hitler in the Holocaust. Even today they are met with hostility and prejudice by many people in Europe. I wouldn't claim to be wholly immune to that prejudice even though I find them an interesting group.

This article denouncing Nick Clegg and David Blunkett for worrying about Sheffield's new gypsy population is the standard liberal reaction to fraught relationships with the Roma.

When prejudices are based on nonsense they are easy enough to erode but the problem is that many of the prejudices about the Roma are not based on misinformation but come from people noticing patterns that exist. This doesn't mean that discrimination against blameless individuals is wrong but the existence of cultural traits that are destructive and unpleasant to the majority population. These include Romany attitudes to things like stealing from outsiders and violence. This article- by an almost cluelessly right on liberal offers many examples:

The following day, while chatting with a group of Gypsies in the small Transylvanian village of Dealu Frumos, I get an insight into a side of the Roma that I have been constantly warned about but have not yet encountered. A young man and his friends are telling me about tsigani de casatsi—house Gypsies—"bad ones, who don't work on the land like us but just steal for a living." Without warning, he wrenches my notebook from my hands and shoves me against the car. I am punched in the kidneys, and my arm is twisted behind me. A blade is held to the side of my neck, and suddenly I am surrounded by roaring Gypsies, maybe 30 of them, more appearing every few seconds from the surrounding houses. My translator, Mihai, is punched in the head. "Money! Money! Money!" his tormentors bellow. I am allowed into the car to retrieve my bag, but Mihai is kept outside, a hostage to my ransom. I offer all the money from my wallet, and Mihai pulls free and throws himself into the back seat. As we drive off, we do an inventory of our injuries. Apart from bruises and shock, my main injury is to my hitherto benign image of the Roma as a wronged and misunderstood people.
That reporter went to Eastern Europe had clearly intended to write an article about how gypsies are persecuted by bigoted Slovakians and Romanians- but when behaviour like that is widespread in a community then someone who refused to prejudge Roma might be admirable but would also put themselves at unnecessary danger.

In other words the only way prejudice against the group will stop is if there is a clamp down on anti-social behaviour within the group.


JuliaM said...

Oh, that's almost as delicious as the time George Monbiot joined the hippie protest & was relieved of his belongings! :)

James Higham said...

Are we now Romaphobes?

Ross said...

JUlia- Yes! I'd forgotten about that classic moment.

Furor Teutonicus said...

XX most famously they were one of the groups targeted for extermination by Hitler in the Holocaust. XX

The solution MAY have been questionable, but the reasons were and remain, as YOU in the U.K are now finding out, and we here, in "Eastern Europe," have known for centuries, entirely plausible.

Anonymous said...

"But historically their skill has been to survive among a great diversity of hosts, among those always more powerful and entitled than themselves, enduring both the fist of hostility and the bear hug of forced assimilation by remaining nomads of the spirit."

Oh pass me an onion for my eye. It seems the author learned nothing by the experience.

If we're the hosts, does that make them the parasites ?

Ross said...

"It seems the author learned nothing by the experience"

I originally saw the article when someone linked to it as an example of how the MSM can tell the truth about gypsies providing that they demonstrate that they've learned nothing.