Rounding up the Roma in Europe’s Arizona

“A disgrace.” That’s what the European Union Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding called France’s continuing deportation of thousands of Roma (part of a group commonly known as Gypsies) to Romania.

France claims the ethnic minority, who mostly live in poverty in more than 300 camps across the country, are disproportionally responsible for a high number of crimes and criminal behavior. France has expelled the Roma before, but the latest wave follows an attack by Roma on a police station, in reaction to a young woman from a local camp being shot and killed by police.

What makes this episode particularly vile, is the leaking of a memorandum that was issued in the beginning of August, calling for a “systematic action to dismantle the illegal camps, in priority those of the Roma.” Furthermore, to the EU’s dismay, French officials have insisted that they are working “in favor of the Roma population.”

“We can improve the situation of the Roma,” said a Foreign Ministry spokesman, “who are at the heart of our concerns and our action.”

So the French are uprooting thousands of individuals, putting them on buses and airplanes back to the discrimination they will face in Bulgaria and Romania in order to “improve the situation” for them.

The French Interior Minister, Brice Hortefeux, defended the action, saying the deportations are happening “not because they are Roma, but because they (the camps) are illegal.” Remind you of anything?

The refrain in Arizona, and elsewhere, is that the anger over illegal immigration is over the “illegal” part, and not racism. This despite the fact that the most vocal anti-immigrant groups are the ones worried about White people becoming a minority, those who see the US defined as a nation run by Europeans.

The EU’s Reding pegged it Tuesday, when she said, “This is a situation I thought Europe would not have to witness again after the Second World War.” In World War Two, Vichy France was notoriously complicit in rounding up Jews and Gypsies and sending them to Nazi death camps.

So what’s going on here? The French have decided that because they are French, they cannot possibly be racist. Everything they are doing – expelling the Roma, outlawing the burqa for Muslim women – they are doing for their minority populations, not to them. N’est pas?


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