Friday, September 20, 2013

Persecution of Roma

In 2012 scientists from Estonia, India, Switzerland, & England published a study where they compared Y chromosomes in DNA samples of European Roma men with those of 10,000 Indians. Based on that Y chromosome they concluded Roma are descendants of Dalits in Punjab who fled caste & the spread of Islam to India about 1,500 years ago by way of Egypt & North Africa & migrated north to Europe. That’s a pretty talkative little chromosome just cholk-full of historical speculations. And golly what an interesting history it is but one wonders if that link to Dalits is supposed to explain why after a millennium & a-half later Roma are still not integrated into European society & remain among the most universally persecuted ethnic groups.

Media analysts complain that despite European integration strategies, EU funds & political & diplomatic efforts, Europe has been unable to integrate the Roma people. Presumably they’re not referring to the police raids, forcible evictions, & destruction of Roma communities in several European countries or France’s strategy of giving Roma immigrants €300 ($390) & putting them on a plane back to Romania.

The Roma go back over 800 years in Europe & are not all native to Romania; they’ve lived for generations in most countries including the Americas. There are no reliable figures on how many Roma live in Romania but it is at least a few million, making them the second largest ethnic group & the most socially disadvantaged (i.e., persecuted). When Romania acceded to the European Union in 2007, many Romanians, including Roma took off for other countries to try to make a better life. What they found was persecution even harsher than that in Romania.

Roma are forced to live on the outskirts of cities often near garbage dumps; they have to live in makeshift housing without water, electricity, access to sanitation; their children are in segregated, substandard schools without sufficient teachers & their children often tracked into special needs classes; they are denied access to health care; they face mountains of racist prejudice. And now governments are raiding their communities, burning down their shacks, & forcing them into homelessness.

One of the most intractable social problems of modern capitalism is racism & the persecution of ethnic minorities. Many believe this is just the way things are & have always been. (For evo psychos this is a tenet of their version of genetics. Because evo psycho genetics are so amenable to the status quo, they get all the best tenured posts at prestigious universities.) Racism may now be integral to capitalism; it certainly cannot function without it. But it is a relatively late development in human history directly related to colonialism. White supremacy is an odious ideology, stinking with treachery & mendacity. The only possible way to address it is not through guilt-trips & breast-beating  but by supporting the oppressed in their struggle for social, political, & economic power. If capitalism cannot sustain democracy & human justice for all it has to go--& it is quite certain it’s demise will be led by the untouchables of modern times.

This photo is from Ponorata, Romania where about 500 Roma live in squalor without electricity. Nearly 95% if them are illiterate & unemployed & were forcibly returned to Romania from France where they earned a living through begging & scrap metal collection.

(Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

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