There have always been elements of society who look for someone to blame when things get a little rough; perhaps they can’t resist scare stories in the press and they get upset and angry, it could be major events or trivial, the evil that is bigotry never sleeps and is never far away. Another common trait is for such people to blame those who are in some way “different” from the main stream, in most cases the ones being picked on are not really different at all but that doesn’t stop the abuse which comes their way when the mob mentality takes over, what the mob perceives is what’s important.
A couple of years ago I went on a travelling holiday in Europe, one country in particular; Poland was a wonderful place to visit and while there a guide pointed out to me a camp just outside of the beautiful sophisticated city of Krakow where several hundred Romany people were living: it took a certain shine off the visit to see the conditions they lived in and the hatred that locals displayed toward them. They were blamed for every petty crime in the area and it struck me hard to think that Poland is arguably the most Christian country in the world with an estimated 90% plus Poles attending Sunday Mass. This is what prejudice and bigotry can do. In a country which would claim to be devoutly Christian this was tolerated, most of the good natured generous Poles I met had no problem with it.
Today in Europe we have millions of Romany people who are living in a situation which is fraught with danger and worsening, the harshness of their lives has been part of their existence for hundreds of years yet some people want to make it worse. Some might argue that France and Italy are two of Europe’s most cultured and historic countries: certainly the French and Italians would. These two countries however are leading the way in carrying out what famously in Tsarist Russia used to be called pogroms: when thousands of Jews were persecuted and expelled from their homes. It was barbarism then and it is now and it’s happening in countries which boast the Louvre and the Sistine Chapel: culture indeed eh? Both of these beautiful famous countries are mired in shame, Romany people are protected from persecution by European law and I hope the European Parliament lands on France and Italy hard.
Predictably we here in the UK are guilty as well: the situation is nowhere as big but when it comes to unreasoned prejudice we are guilty as hell. We have Gypsies from northern Europe who regularly face severe prejudice in the South of England and around the rest of Britain we have “Travellers” who get the same bigotry and wretched prejudice aimed at them. Romany, Tinkers, Gypsies and Travellers have been leading their particular life styles for centuries and they will not change now: why should they? As a local councillor I get complaints when Travellers arrive and more often than not they don’t amount to much when investigated, there is no great number of incidents which require action from the Police: check and see. A regular Traveller’s camp appears near where I stay a couple of times a year and they stay for a month or so and move on. Over my time living here I’ve had 2 cars burned out another car stolen, my house broke into twice and none of it was done by Travellers: what does that tell us?
I believe that Travellers should have proper facilities in each council district to accommodate them when they stop there: this happens in many English towns and it works very well, we ought to be doing the same. As you curl up in your warm bed tonight think of those Romany people women and small children included who are out in the elements because of the brutal actions of some countries who like to refer to themselves as cultured and sophisticated. Do what I’m doing and write to your Euro MP’s and complain, demand that the Euro. Parliament protect these people. The law demands it and so does decency.