Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Scapegoats. Do we have ours chosen?

Human nature leads us seemingly to need scapegoats in times of trouble and hard times. When a full economic meltdown occurs, when the one percenters have gained near the entire wealth of our civilization — the end point of current trends — people will need scapegoats to blame, weak people to punish for the misfortunes. Maybe it will be the newest immigrants, maybe it will be those of North America's most ancient race. It will be someone from among ourselves. Human nature demands it.

Spiegel Online, Governments Turn Blind Eye to Violence Against Roma
"It is a tragedy taking place in the heart of Europe. In many countries, Roma are being bullied by right-wing extremists, and racism against them is considered acceptable in mainstream society. There is no sign of a strategy to solve the problem."
March against Roma, Czech town of Varnsdorf, Sept 2011
From the fabulous film by Tony Gatlif, Latcho Drom, a powerful history without dialogue deals with Romani culture throughout the world around the theme of their music and dance:

Another brilliant film by Tony Gatlif, Mondo, starring Ovidiu Balan

Recommend this post


  1. not surprised really. have them in your neighbourhood then we'll talk

  2. The poor and dispossessed are already in our neighbourhoods. Should they be ignored, restrained, further disadvantaged or helped to find opportunity and betterment?

    British historian Christopher Dawson provided thoughts to consider:

    For humanism also appeals to man as man. It seeks to liberate the universal qualities of human nature from the narrow limitations of blood and soil and class and to create a common language and a common culture in which men can realize their common humanity.

  3. The rom have been thieves since the second world war. give your head a shake. it's not only an issue about poverty. more like depravity. and no morals. have them in your neighbourhood for a year then we'll talk.

  4. "Since the second world war."

    No, the claim has been made at least since the middle ages. Byzantine records refer to Romani people as Satan inspired wizards. They have been relegated to the lowest rung of the social ladder for hundreds of years. A 16th century Act of the British Parliament required them to give up "naughty, idle and ungodly life and company" and allowed for execution of those found not to have done so. In the early 18th century, the Holy Roman Emperor decreed "that all adult males were to be hanged without trial, whereas women and young males were to be flogged and banished forever." To make identity easier, the Kingdom of Bohemia order the right ears of Romani be cut off. In other parts of Europe, they were branded.

    Petty theft was a regular justification for persecution of Romanies. That peaked in the 20th century when hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of "Gypsies" were victimized in Nazi led genocide.

    So Anonymous, your prejudice and bigotry is not new, it is part of a long tradition.

  5. The CBC profiled an excellent piece of theatre that ran in Montreal a few months ago. A director wrote and staged a musical theatre piece featuring Roma youth. It was the story of the lives of these Roma youth back home in Europe.

    The circumstances under which they live are almost unimaginable, akin to the circumstances that some of our First Nations communities live in, except that the Roma are more constantly and openly abused than our First Nations people.

    These teenagers also used the performance to address the myths and the realities of the Roma, acknowledging that some of their people are thieves, given that they find such barriers to employment. But only some -- and I dare say no more than the thieves that exist in any society: Conrad Black comes to mind, as do a host of business and political "elite" in this country.

    It was a remarkable experience and an engaging and powerful show. Given half a chance, these teens blossomed into exemplary artists and young adults with a great deal to offer society.

    Shame on these commentators who judge people on their ethnicity and listen to rumour and innuendo. What's next, calling Jewish people money grubbers??? And how about them BC redneck goons, those hillbillies??? How does that feel? Now imagine you're a child and these insults are hurled at you.

    You reveal the worst elements of BC society, stemming from the same ugly well of aggression that BC showed the world during the Stanley Cup Riot. Shame on you.

  6. Sick and revealing comments from anonymous, that make me sick.

    My maternal grandmother was a polish german,of gypsy descent I recently discovered, which suddenly explained why she had such lovely olive skin,nearly black hair and dark eyes.

    Her father hid and aided jews in Lübeck and was consequently murdered on his doorstep in front of his family because of this humanitarian act.I often wonder if he was Jewish and married a gypsy woman,my great great grandmother, but have not been able to confirm this with records yet.

    They were then, including my grandmother,sent to concentration camps where she soon became nothing more than the number tattooed upon her body.

    Luckily for me, and perhaps because of having come from a people with such a strong will to survive, she did survive with nothing more than a couple bullet wound scars on her legs,and a horrific set of memories that had never been discussed with anyone... until one day as a teen,realising the signficance of that numbered tattoo, I asked her how that came to be.

    And so the story was told.( Interestingly enough, my nordic blond, blue eyed maternal grandfather was also tossed into a concentration camp,but that is another story- I digress)

    It makes me wonder, would anonymous revile me as he does the Roma, being of same descent? Having Gypsy blood explains a lot... : )

    Thank you for this post Norman, very much.

  7. Thanks for sharing Laila. I think anonymous demonstrates an attitude that is too common and he/she misses the point of my original post. Some are too easily distracted from real issues and too ready to blame social ills on those from the margins of life. I think we ought first to examine the most powerful participants, not the weakest, when we try to understand how society works.

  8. I notice when Kevin O;Leary speaks on CBC about the Greek he does it with disdain. He says he has no use for Greece and its' people. It really shows that as a human race, we like to kick people when they are down and vulnerable. Being powerful really makes one feel justified to undermine and abuse others.
    At least not all of us are like this:)

  9. I realize it is hypocritical theatre but I despise O'leary's celebration of greed

    David Mitchell had this to say about the British Dragon's Den:
    "The show is not fundamentally about people trying to sell inventions to established entrepreneurs; it is about established entrepreneurs trying to sell their fake indignation and weak put-downs as wit.

    Why is rudeness becoming de rigueur?

  10. No one can deny a long existent social problem continues, most acutely in Europe. Solutions will not come easily but the first step is to admit the historical context and acknowledge the wrongs of one group has contributed to the responses of the other. Most of all, we must avoid the knee-jerk reaction that supposes any one group of people is bound by nature to be inferior.

  11. A Roma on Roma people
    "The thieving is no longer a national problem. It's happening on an international scale. Our children need to study, because if they carry on like this, if the new generations which grow up now continue in the same way, no-one will have us."

    How Gypsy gangs use child thieves

    How Gypsy gangs use child thieves



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