Tuesday, October 12, 2010

France's racial politics defended

In a letter to the Ottawa Citizen, French ambassador François Delattre tries to put a happy-face mask on his country's neo-Vichyist policy of racial purification--the rounding up and deporting of Roma. Much of his letter is protesting Ujjal Dosanjh's statement of the obvious (
the newest Nobel laureate in literature, Alvaro Vargas Llosa, has some choice words on the same subject) but this paragraph in particular deserves our attention:

France has been at the forefront to raise awareness of the plight and the suffering of the Roma in Europe by bringing this issue on the European Union's agenda. France's goal is to have the EU properly fund much-needed economic, educational and social initiatives and thereby improve the Roma's living conditions while promoting their integration within the EU. Indeed, France is currently a leading contributor to the $4.15 billion (Cdn.) allocated to Romania by the European Union annually.

If you follow the Dosanjh link, above, you will see what the French government means by "integration." It amounts, in fact, to the sequestration of racial undesirables in patrolled ghettoes. The current forced deportations are just ramping up this ugly recrudescence of Vichy politics.

But the disingenuousness of M. Delattre doesn't stop there. France hasn't so much put this matter on the EU agenda as forced the issue with its racialist policies. And the mention of Romania can only be seen as deliberately misleading.

Romania is not the homeland of the Roma people, as the ambassador seems to be suggesting. The two names have utterly different origins. The name "Romania" goes straight back to the Roman Empire and the formation of Roman Dacia. Daco-Romanian is a Romance language, related to Italian. The Romani language, spoken by the Roma, is Indo-Aryan.

Roma in Romania comprise 2.5% of the population. It is true that Romania is the country of origin of many of France's deportees, but so is Bulgaria, where Roma are the third-largest ethnic group, at 4.7%.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is himself an immigrant, from Hungary, where hatred of Roma is widespread: Roma are currently the favourite scapegoats of the neo-Nazi Jobbik Party. He was, as it turns out, caught in a lie, claiming that Roma were not being singled out for expulsion when they had, in fact, been deliberately targeted. The French police, of course, have been on the job for some time--nothing new there.

The Ambassador, it must be said, was simply doing his job. But it's a dirty one.

1 comment:

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