Saturday, 18 September 2010

fremde, etranger, stranger

France and Sarkosy are the brunt of quite a bit of honest scrutiny in the European Union, driven by coverage which may not be just as genuine. Now as accusations are exchanged that Merkel and Germany have plans to carry out similar mass-deportations of Sinti and Roma (the ethnic groups formerly known as gypsies), one parliamentarian has drawn allusions to the atrocities perpetrated during the Second World War. Immigration, minority protection, and human welfare are all heady subjects, deserving of close and objective attention. The tone, however, is being set by sensational journalists, it seems, and smacks very much of the recent brawl in America over Koran burning and the so-called Ground Zero mosque. Much of the public was so enflamed because they were led to believe that there was to be a mosque built on the rubble of the World Trade Center site. Never mind that the Ground Zero mosque was to be primarily a non-denominational community center and that there was already a mosque in mid-town Manhattan several blocks closer by. Such a local zoning issue should not have attracted the interest of the whole world and some Christian fanatics without some media false flags. France deported no more non-EU citizens from the country than in years past, and did not particularly target Roma camps, or alter policy during the dog days of summer when no one was watching, as other reporting suggests.
View from Burger King at Ground Zero
Every year, during vacation time, holiday campers take notice of squatter sites because they venture further into the woods and some may feel a little less safe because of them. Stereotypes about Roma realize and perpetuate learned traits, and the public has experience with few people of that background, save the fictional Esmeralda from the Hunch-Back of Notre Dame, Django Reinhardt, Charlie Chaplin and Boba Fett, preferring nomadic, swarthy, mysterious, fortune-tellers. By no means do I condone expulsions and that there should not be more efforts to understand what is going one, only that this may be one of those distractions that can easily fail to make one look at the underlying conditions.  If one community bucks the trappings and standards of another, the one that dictates those mores will always feel threatened and imagine resistances that are not there.