ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Posts Tagged ‘Europe

The Independent’s 21st Century Racism.

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I am indebted to one of my readers, Sarah Annes Brown, for pointing out Mary Dejevsky’s comments in the Independent.

If you read Mary Dejevsky’s appalling article you might be struck, as I was, how attitudes towards the Roma haven’t really changed in the past 80 years.

The Roma have suffered stigmatisation, extermination and marginalisation yet the comment below did not come from a 1930s fascist publication, although given its contents it could have.

It comes from a Western broadsheet, renowned for occasionally provocative but reasoned articles. Surprisingly, in 2004 the Independent won the British Press Awards’ national newspaper of the year.

Mary Dejevsky argues:

“”As it is, though, they [the Roma] are parasites on a state of civilisation, material and cultural, they have done nothing to build and could not reproduce for themselves.”

How such a conspicuous festering pile of racism managed to seep past the Independent’s subeditors I can’t say, but rarely outside of fascist thinking do you see such arguments, and we shouldn’t forget how often they were repeated in the 1930s.

These forms of attack on the Roma are common currency amongst European neofascists, as members of the Vlaams Belang show:

“France’s policy of expelling Roma to Romania and Bulgaria has attracted a storm of criticism at home and abroad from human rights groups and churches but has found support among some far-right politicians.

Philip Claeys, one of two MEPs from the far-right Flemish party Vlaams Belang, said he wants to defend “French policy concerning Roma.”

“The dismantling of illegal camps, the struggle against petty crime, criminality and prostitution, and the expulsion of foreigners with no legal earnings are perfectly legitimate in a democratic constitutional state,” said the Belgian euro-deputy in a statement Thursday (2 September).

Getting rid of the Roma camps puts an end to “public order disturbance,” he continued.

France’s own far-right National Front also agrees with the deportations. Its leader Jean-Marie Le Pen described the situation as “a problem caused by the European Union opening the borders between European countries.”

The Independent really should make an effort to stop publishing this anti-Roma racism.

Update 1: As Sarah AB points out the article receives plenty of support in the comments box.

Written by modernityblog

04/09/2010 at 15:13

Over At The EU.

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Engage has more on Karel De Gucht.

Update 1: Don’t forget A Fifth Column of Jewish Podiatrists at Judeosphere.

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04/09/2010 at 01:04

Sarkozy And The Jobbik.

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I often wonder if politicians and political activists actually have a sense of history?

You only need to see the treatment of the Roma by the Sarkozy government to think that politicians have learnt nothing?

Or possibly they have? That stirring up hatred against the Roma is politically useful? Whatever the supposed reasons, now that Sarkozy’s government has started an institutional attack on the Roma the Jobbik are joining in, again.

This is not new, as I pointed out before, but the actions in France have allowed xenophobia into the open and the Jobbik fully intend to exploit it.

That this was going to happen is perfectly foreseeable, even by the Sarkozy government.

The Toronto Star reports:

“BUDAPEST—Hungary’s leading far-right party said on Wednesday that Roma who are considered a threat to public safety should be forced from their dwellings and placed in highly-controlled camps, some of them for life.

The Jobbik party capitalized on deep-seated popular resentment toward Hungary’s large Roma minority to get into parliament for the first time in April elections. It recently launched its campaign for municipal elections due on October 3.

“We would force these families out of their dwellings, yes,” Csanad Szegedi, the party’s vice chairman and European Parliament representative, told Reuters. “Then, yes, we would transport these families to public order protection camps.”

“At these camps, there would be a chance to return to civilized society. Those who abandon crime, make sure their children attend school, and participate in public works programmes, they can reintegrate,” he said.

“No doubt there will be people who show no improvement. They can spend the rest of their lives in these camps.”

Jobbik is particularly strong in the northeast of Hungary, where most of the country’s 700,000 Roma live, many in squalid conditions. Unemployment among Roma is extremely high and petty crime is rampant. Jobbik Chairman Gabor Vona said that attempts to integrate the Roma community had failed and that segregation was the best tool to teach them to coexist with the majority, national news agency MTI reported.

Szegedi rejected the idea that the public order protection camps, where inmates would need permission to leave the premises and a 10 p.m. curfew would be enforced, resembled ghettos. “These are not ghettos, they are camps to protect public order,” he said. “I don’t believe this should be a problem as we would execute these plans in accordance with all laws.”

The plight of the Roma, Europe’s largest ethnic minority, has gained attention since French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced a crackdown one month ago on Roma camps in France.”

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03/09/2010 at 11:55

Roma In Europe.

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Racism Review has an informative post on this topic, which I reproduce in full:

Roma people, an ethnic minority group in Europe, suffer from widespread violence, poverty and widespread discrimination in employment, education and housing. Compared to other groups in Europe, Roma people have poorer health, lower life expectancy, less education, lower income and live in worse housing. Roma women are subject to forced sterilization. Although there are no longer anti-Roma laws on the statutes in Europe, the mountain of reports from the Commissioner for Human Rights and the European Commission Against Racism And Intolerance (ECRI), show that virulent anti-Gypsyism not only survives but is growing in many countries.

For decades, the Council of Europe (COE) in particular has worked to fight anti-Gypsyism, through its Dosta! (Enough) Campaign. Increasingly, scholars and activists in Europe are turning to media to help combat this form of racism. This video (28:25) produced by the COE, features a panel of experts, including a number of sociologists, explores the problem and efforts to address it:

This pervasive discrimination have led some to make the case that the Roma people share much with African Americans in the U.S. Among those who draw this parallel is Robert Rustem, from the European Roma and Travellers Forum. He writes:

Rather than recognise the plight of Roma as an urgent social and political issue, too many European governments ignore the application of their own laws, see Roma as primarily the concern of local councillors or the criminal justice system or simply do nothing at all. A similar intransigence served as a call to action for the African-American leadership in the 1950’s. It responded by mobilising support among black and white people and set out to pour shame on America’s political elite. Bus boycotts, sit-ins, marches, demonstrations and the emergence of more militant political forces such as Malcolm X, focussed the international spotlight on the injustice of Jim Crow apartheid and created the political pressure needed for lasting change. There are those in the Roma community who believe that similar non-violent tactics may now be needed in Europe to end the cycle of good intentions, warm words and neglect that has marked the post-war discussion of the ‘Roma Question.’

Rustem concedes that the Roma issue remains “on the fringes of political activism” in Europe. Still, Rustem and others in Europe who are committed to equality for Roma people say they will be looking to the anniversary of Dr. King’s March on Washington August 28th for inspiration.

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14/08/2010 at 15:52

EU Funding The BNP.

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Again the absurdity of treating the neo-fascists in the BNP as a legitimate and normal political party is brought into focus, with the EU funding of various BNP hangers-on, as Lancaster Unity relates:

“Nick Griffin, the BNP leader, has put his personal bodyguard on the European Union payroll as his party becomes the latest to exploit the political expenses system.

A dozen senior figures from the party make up a BNP entourage of publicly funded assistants. As MEPs, Griffin and Andrew Brons are entitled to claim a combined £382,000 a year to pay for their colleagues’ salaries.

Martin Reynolds, a 20-stone bodybuilder who is head of security and Griffin’s bodyguard, said he “honestly didn’t know” why he was justified in being paid by the taxpayer. He said of his job: “I just do the security side of it and personal assistant stuff and generally looking after him and making sure things are done for him”

Written by modernityblog

19/10/2009 at 00:58

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Ramifications Of The Lisbon Treaty.

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Listening to the news that the Tories will apparently hold a referendum on the Lisbon treaty, if they win the next general election in Britain, set me thinking how Europe haunts the Tories, as much today as it did when John Major or Margaret Thatcher had power, but the political ramifications are potentially wider.

It seems unlikely that the Tories would reopen the Lisbon treaty when the other nations and states have in one way or the other ratified it, the last one will soon be the Czech Republic, but if they did that in Britain then it would surely open up old wounds, yet again the perennial bogeyman of Europe would be attacked and more British xenophobia stirred up.

The relationship between Britain and Europe is a fraught discourse, primarily because it brings up, indirectly, the decline of Britain has an Imperial power and the necessity for her to have good relations with European countries, who previously were considered to be nobodies or minor competitors. Accepting Europe has never been an easy thing for the British, despite holiday homes in France and the millions that visit Spain or traipse around Italy, Europe is not a welcomed subject across the political spectrum, and that is where any debate on the Lisbon Treaty becomes politically interesting.

Should a referendum be held then you would have the sight of little Englanders, ancient Tories, neofascists, Tony Benn and various unreconstructed lefties united in arguing against the Lisbon treaty, in part as a way to criticise and distance themselves from Europe, both as a political setup and as a continent.

Whatever happens it will be messy politics, as clearly Britain is unlikely to leave the EU.

However, a negative outcome for the Lisbon treaty as an expression of discontent against Europe, or for British nationalism, would leave the political leaders in a perilous position, either having to ignore public opinion, which probably would be highly critical of the EU, or cause political splits in the mainstream parties.

So whatever happens Europe will continue to dog the Tories.

Update:
Occasional racist and bigot speaks out at Tory party conference.

Written by modernityblog

11/10/2009 at 14:26