Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Enriched by waves of racist invaders?

So, just as some nationalists have said, the right word for gypsy ingress into Northern Ireland is ‘invasion’:

In addition to the continual presence of these [native itinerant] groups of presumably autochthonous origin, medieval Europe would seem to be scoured now and then by foreign groups: “Egyptian” acrobats visit Greece, Macedonia, and Spain, while an “Ethiopian” group given to magic artistry visits Italy, Spain, France, and England during the thirteenth century. However, undoubtedly at the start of the fifteenth century Western exotic nomads began to invade western Europe. Their presence in the Balkans had already been noted during the previous two centuries. Although Europeans used many names to describe these foreigners, two are by far the most common: “Egyptians” in the Atlantic regions, which was to become “Gitanos” in Spanish, “Gitans” in French, “Gypsies” in English, etc.; and “Cigani” (a term whose etymon is dubious - perhaps from the Greek word “Atsinganoi”) used in central-eastern Europe with several variants: “Zigeuner” in German, “Zingari” in Italian, “Cingani” in modern Latin, etc. The two terms overlap in many regions.

From the Encyclopaedia of World Cultures prepared under the auspices of Yale’s Human Relations Area Files (Volume 4, p.196).

In a surprisingly bold blog at the Telegraph, James Delingpole suggested that the ethnic-specific behaviour of the Gypsies may have provoked the Belfast uprising. This is quite possible, Gypsies self-define in part by their ways of earning a living and by how they relate to other communities; a Gypsy who does not conform to group norms risks being ostracised. And, however impolitic it may be to say so, Gypsy group norms are generally hostile to their host communities’ interests - and remarkably stable through time and across location. This is well-known as regards their ways of making money and showing disrespect for the property rights of others, but not so well-known are their defining cultural attitudes toward “Gorgios,” i.e., foreigners.

A Rominche is considered as such by reference to parentage - that is, at least one parent must be Rominche. “Didikois” is the usual term applied to “half-breeds,” while non-Rominche are called “Gorgios.” … There are prohibitions against marriage to a Gorgio … Violations of these prohibitions do occur, however. In the case of marriage to a Gorgio, the status of the “outsider” spouse will always be ambiguous - acceptance is never complete… Rominche culture is in many ways influenced by their opposition to Gorgios. Pollution beliefs are a strong example of this: food is “dirty” or “polluted” if even the shadow of a Gorgio falls upon it. (Ibid., pp. 216-7)

Are the ‘anti-racists’ fighting the wrong foe, I wonder?

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