Gypsies Once Again Faced With Perennial Gypsy Dilemma

Illustration for article titled Gypsies Once Again Faced With Perennial Gypsy Dilemma

France's new immigration policy has forced thousands of Roma gypsies to flee, their camps smashed and with 300 Euros' reparation. Unwilling to return to the discrimination faced in Romania, many are faced with a centuries-old problem.

France's pass-the-buck attitude is nothing new, but under EU law, it's simply not going to cut it. Says the EU's Justice Minister of France's draconian expulsion policy (which enjoys popular support), "No member state can expect special treatment when fundamental values and European laws are at stake. I am personally convinced that the commission will have no choice but to initiate infringement procedures against France." Yet, for now, the Roma have been expelled and many have moved on to Germany and the UK rather than make their homes in refugee camps around Eastern Europe. And while the EU has granted Roma membership and freedom of movement, more needs to be done. Says Sky news,

There are an estimated 12 million Roma in Europe and their number is rapidly increasing.Some feel that could spell disaster for the country's economic future, with the badly-educated Roma existing on the margins of society. The EU and its individual states are now under pressure to provide more financial assistance and better education programmes.

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The Roma still face widespread discrimination across Europe, but the French action prompted protests across Europe.

Nevertheless, France is plowing ahead: yesterday, The Guardian reported that even the Cirque Romanès, a venerable Gypsy circus that's a Parisian institution, may be expelled from the country. They've started an online petition and on October 4th will hold a "night of support." Says Délia Romanèsa, one of the circus' founders,

Even we, Gypsy artists who are legal citizens, are being attacked...I found it extraordinary that they sent us to represent France at Shanghai and that, when we came back, they weren't letting our musicians work. It's mad, really bad. They want to get rid of us. They just don't want to have to see us. But we are human beings too, you know?

EU: 'French Expulsion Of Roma Is A Disgrace' [SkyNews]

Gypsy Circus Is Next On France's Expulsion List [Guardian]

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DISCUSSION

Here's what drives me bonkers about Jezebel - knee jerk reaction towards what they think is liberalism and acceptance.

We talk a lot about the rights of the individual on Jezebel but we never talk about the rights of the individual in relationship to its effect on larger society.

Individualism brought us the passenger car, which apart from being environmentally hazardous also has the nasty side effect of ostracizing children, the elderly, people with mental and physical handicaps (such as the epileptic and the blind). Large swathes of American society literally cannot actively participate fully in society because they cannot (and likely will never) drive. Doubling back to the environmental effects of passenger cars when you factor in pedestrian deaths and the effects of air quality, the passenger car while often great for the individual (though that can be argued as well), is terrible for larger society.

But we didn’t think about that – we just built.

The Romani have a deleterious effect on French society – the French social system that we all love and envy, for example, is predicated on a work force that contributes to that system. The Romani, mostly in terms of the French system of governance don’t work.

Do the Romani as people have rights, a rich and interesting culture and the right to live in accordance to how they wish – of course they do. But that right ends, when it threatens to rend apart the fabric of the larger society within which they live. This is particularly acute, when you recognize that they are not French. Why is it the obligation of the French to bend themselves to a people and change their society, when those same people won’t bend and change for French (German etc) society.

I don’t know what the answer is – and I’m not saying I support these actions – but I think it’s disingenuous to act like the question is so easy. When even Germany – a country that is paranoid to the extreme about being labeled as racist that they often don’t properly prosecute honor killings amongst Turkish immigrants – is struggling you have to ask yourself why.

And I think as mostly North Americans who don’t have to deal with the things that often accompany the Romani (including theft and taxing of social services), should perhaps pause before we render judgment from on high.