When Europeans are caterwauling about American treatment of its minorities or Australian mistreatment of its indiginous, they conveniently leave out the fact that they commonly LOATHE AND DESPISE gypsies. “Oh, that’s different,” they say, “gypsies really do suck ass.”
When we were in Madrid in ’92, my brother and I were at a fairly high-end dance club, and suddenly, in the middle of the swirl of bodies and beats and multi-national bonhomie, EVERYTHING stopped suddenly like suspended animation for about 1 full minute. The music stopped dead, there was nary a movement or sound other than some muffled jostling and mumuring from the direction of the front door, then the sound of it slamming with finality.
We didn’t know what in the name of Generalissimo Francisco Franco was going on until we asked the Spanish girls we had been dancing with: “Fahcking Gypsies, thieves!” they literally spat. No one in the entire place gave a second thought to Gypsies being tossed out of the club on their asses for being Gypsies. In fact, Gypsies seem to be appreciated for approximately nothing other than their music.
Athens cleared them out prior to the Games:
- Not far from the new highways, sleek Olympic stadium and spruced up parks and monuments lies an old problem: thousands of impoverished Gypsies who say they’ve been hidden away in shame for the Summer Games.
“They wanted us far away from the Olympic Village,” said Eleni Paraianou, a 46-year-old grandmother of nine who now lives in a settlement built on the site of a former garbage dump in this town east of Athens.
“They call us ‘gyps’ and say we are dirty,” she said. “If only we had electricity and running water — we would be kings.”
The 150,000 Gypsies in Greece face scorn just as they have in the rest of Europe for ages. Most descended from nomadic north Indians who came to Europe via the Byzantine Empire in the 11th century, and their struggle with racism and illiteracy persists. They still largely live on the edge of society as the poorest of the poor.
With the Greeks determined to put their best face forward on their $8.5 billion games, some Gypsies were forced out to make way for such projects as the parking lot at the main Olympic stadium and part of the land used for the Olympic Village
….”This is not a place in general that Greek society cares to take a hard look at,” said Panayote Dimitras of the group Greek Helsinki Monitor, who took foreign journalists to the Gypsy camps. “We have a tradition in Greece to say that Roma have a right to a decent place to live — but not next door to me.”
At the garbage dump encampment, 26 families live in converted freight containers, normally reserved for victims of Greece’s many earthquakes. They have cultivated small gardens in front of their makeshift homes, where lately they’ve been rigging car batteries and generators to televisions so they can watch the Olympics.
….Some Greeks claim Gypsies have turned to drug dealing and do little to assimilate and raise their esteem among the mainstream population.
“They’ve always lived in camps. They’re nomads — these kind of people always complain,” 25-year-old architecture student Theodoros Stephanides said as he sipped coffee in an Athens suburb.
……..Most Greek Gypsies deal in scrap metal [Sports Illustrated]
Funny they should mention that:
- seven thieves stole an entire 13-yard bridge near the southern Bosnian town of Mostar, police said Friday.
Over several days, the group dismantled the metal bridge built during the Austro-Hungarian empire 150 years ago, transported the parts to a local junk yard and sold them, a police statement said.
While it all happened in a remote mountainous region, local villagers saw the thieves loading parts of the bridge into vans and alerted police last Friday. The seven men were arrested and are being held pending a decision by a prosecutor.
Without disclosing their names, police said the Gypsies, or Roma, sold the metal parts for $170. [AP]
It’s enough to give Gypsies a bad name, although that is some tenacious pursuit of scrap metal.
There are parallels between how the Jews and Gypsies are portrayed and perceived: insular, refusal to assimilate, nomadic, beholden only to themselves, the Nazis reviled each for “impure blood.” But then there are rather glaring differences too: the Jews’ emphasis on law, education, achievement – no one ever accused the Gypsies of secretly ruling the world; in fact, they seem to be most resented for being a world unto themselves … and that scrap metal thing.