Friday, July 04, 2008

Fingerprinting Italy's Gypsies

Italy has started a bold new plan to fingerprint all the Roma living in Italy (at least those without proper EU ID cards) and database them. Italy would very much like for you not to mention the words 'fascism', 'racism', or 'creeporama' when discussing this new policy. Unicef and Amnesty are not wild about this idea. Roberto Maroni, the Italian home minister does not care. He's all excited about how this is going to make it easier for him to take children from their homes if they're truant from school. Apparently ethnic Italian kids are NEVER truant from school, so Italy would have 100% attendence if we could only track down the Gypsy kids whose parents have sent them out to steal people's wallets in the train station.

The Roma are something of an issue for me. For one thing, I see strong parallels between their experience in Europe and that of the Jews, and for another, I see an uninformed reflexive prejudice against the Rom that hits close to home for me, and ticks me off when it comes from people who should bloody well know better, or at least THINK.

While I was doing my teaching credential, I ended up sitting through a presentation by a young woman (basic lefty Bay Area type, nice girl), who had done a year abroad in Hungary with some program or other, part of which had included touring a boarding school program for Roma kids. I listened in horror while this girl, who would have protested any kind of racism she could identify as such, parroted back everything she had heard from her Hungarian hosts about the Roma. They're dirty, they steal, you name it--and finally, this kid, who undoubtedly sees homeless beggars in our own city only as victims of society, described being hit up for change by Roma on the street, and said "and you know, you try to remember that this is a human being..."

I got up and delivered a short impassioned speech on the history of the Roma in Europe, the suffering, the vicious bigotry, the Shoah, (Porraimos, they say in Romani, 'the devouring'), and the overt racism still exhibited today throughout Europe, which a sheltered American youngster might so easily not understand for what it was.

The class blinked at me vaguely, and I sat down.

Anyway, from Ariel David (who should know better, I suspect) of the AP: "Italians, and others in Europe, have a long history of distrust of Gypsies. In Naples, camps had to be evacuated in May after attackers set huts on fire and angry residents in neighboring areas protested against the alleged attempt by a Gypsy woman to kidnap a baby."

Yeah, I know all about Europeans having a long distrust. You know, in the old days, they useta be able to sell the babies they stole to the Jews for matzah production, Ariel. What bland, stupid, cowardly way to say "Europeans have displayed often violent racist bigotry against Gypsies for centuries. In Naples, camps had to be evacuated in May, after attackers set huts on fire, and pitchfork-waving local yokels revived old libels about Gypsies taking children."

1 comment:

Juggling Frogs said...

BBJ, You're a hero. Kol haKavod for standing up in that auditorium.

Fingerprinting only members of a racial minority?!! It's 2008, people.

Why didn't they just say that all those without ID cards will be fingerprinted for ID purposes? "Fingerprinting Italy's without EU cards" sounds like a generic security strategy. Why bring only one ethnicity into the discussion?

Targeting a single group like this is very scary.