Friday, August 20, 2010

First the Roma, then the Jews (or is that the other way around?)

France is in the process of expelling all its Roma ("Gypsies"), by order of Sarkozy.  Essentially, police are raiding camps and putting the people they find there -- en masse -- onto buses and planes bound for Romania & Bulgaria.  From the NY Times article:
Mass expulsions based on ethnicity violate European Union law, Mr. Kushen said, and the failure of France to do individual assessments of each case — as opposed to cursory examinations of papers by the police — also violates European Union rules.
The new campaign has been roundly criticized as political, an effort by Mr. Sarkozy to revive his support on the right of the French political spectrum. The campaign has also been attacked as racist, focusing on ethnic or racial groups rather than individual criminals. The government rejects the criticism as misguided and utopian and says it is trying to fight crime and preserve public order.
Haven't I heard this story before?

From Jacob Rader Marcus, ed., The Jews in the Medieval World (New York, 1999): 27-30. 

Expelling a people based on some "threat" to public order (usually more perceived than real) that they, as a group, are said to pose.  I'm surprised Sarkozy didn't go all the way and just say the Roma are "dirty," or "unclean" and "pollute" French society. 

And history echoes forward...


Tom Elrod said...

It's a little incredible that Sarkozy doesn't realize the historical connotations of blatantly discriminating against the Roma, and not just the medieval connotations you rightly point out, but far more recently as well; i.e., Germany in the 1930s and 40s. The Roma were major targets of the Holocaust, too.

Anonymous said...

It presumably makes for better press than discriminating against Muslims. Why does he need a hate figure for his politics at the moment? Is he about to lose an election?