I for one am fascinated by Gypsies. I find it remarkable that a people, hailing from the dregs of medieval Indian society, could cross the whole Middle East, arrive in eastern Europe, and maintain their identity among other peoples for 1500 years. The Gypsies did this, furthermore, without maintaining their own sovereign state or religion, the two traditional ways of preserving peoplehood. That is, by any yardstick, a remarkable achievement.
Unfortunately, the realities and remarkable nature of Gypsy society and culture are never a subject of polite conversation. I once asked an eastern European affluent white female liberal for sources on the topic and she unhelpfully pointed to a Soros-funded NGO’s numerous reports on all the discrimination Gypsies face at the hands of nefarious Europeans. That really wasn’t what I was getting at.
Any people who manages to maintain their identity in such a way throughout the centuries can hardly be a merely passive object of the all-powerful majority. Rather, the diaspora people in question must have their own powerful cultural and social mechanisms to make this happen: policing group membership, ensuring endogamous reproduction, and maintaining one’s own social life as a nation within a nation.
Anyway, the European Union’s Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has produced a massive survey seeking to shed light on this mysterious people: as part of the “Second European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey” (the reflexive pairing of these two themes naturally sets the tone), 8,000 face-to-face interviews with Gypsies were held, collecting information on 34,000 people living in Gypsy households in nine European countries.
The survey covers Gypsies in Bulgaria, Czechia, Greece, Spain, Croatia, Hungary, Portugal, Romania, and Slovakia, which host 80% of Europe’s Gypsies. Gypsies that have moved to a different country, very numerous since Bulgaria and Romania joined the European Union and armed their Gypsies with EU passports, are not covered.
The results, indeed, are highly revealing.
Gypsies are poor:
[The survey] shows that 80% of Roma continue to live below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold of their country; that every third Roma lives in housing without tap water; one in 10 in housing without electricity; and that every fourth Roma (27%) and every third Roma child (30%) live in a household that faced hunger at least once in the previous month.
Gypsies are much, much less likely to work or study:
[The survey] finds that only one in four Roma aged 16 years or older reports ‘employed’ or ‘self-employed’ as their main activity at the time of the survey. Roma women report much lower employment rates than Roma men – 16 % compared with 34 %. Overall, the survey shows paid work rates for Roma aged 20-64 years to be 43 %, which is well below the EU average of 70 % in 2015. The situation of young people is substantially worse: on average, 63% of Roma aged 16-24 were not employed, in education or training at the time of the survey, compared with the 12 % EU average on the NEET rate for the same age group. For this age group, the results also show a considerable gender gap, with 72 % of young Roma women not employed, in education or training, compared with 55 % of young Roma men.
Arab and Turkish women in Europe are also much less likely to work than their male counterparts, but Gypsies’ idleness really is unique. Forty-four percent of Gypsies live in what the EU diplomatically calls “low work intensity households,” that is to say, households where working-age members work at less than 20% capacity.
Gypsies generally don’t go to school and, when they do, they perform poorly:
[The study’s] results show that Roma children lag behind their non-Roma peers on all education indicators. Only about half (53 %) of Roma children between the age of four and the starting age of compulsory primary education participate in early childhood education. On average, 18 % of Roma between 6 and 24 years of age attend an educational level lower than that corresponding to their age. The proportion of Roma early school-leavers is disproportionately high compared with the general population. School segregation remains a problem in Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary and Slovakia despite the legal prohibition of this practice and recent case law of the European Court of Human Rights.
Two thirds of 18- to 24-year-old Gypsies do not have a high school diploma and have no intention of getting one. Concerning segregation, 13% of 6- to 15-year-old Gypsies attend schools in which all their “schoolmates” are Gypsies, while 33% attend schools where most are Gypsies. A majority, 55%, attend schools in which only “some” or “none” of their schoolmates are Gypsies.
Interestingly, a majority of Gypsies report no recent discrimination against them:
Almost one in two Roma (41 %) felt discriminated against because of their ethnic origin at least once in one of these areas of daily life in the past five years. One in four Roma (26 %) indicates that the last incident of perceived discrimination happened in the 12 months preceding the survey. The highest prevalence of discrimination in the past 12 months is found when using public or private services (19 %) and when looking for work (16 %). However, on average, only 12 % of Roma report their experiences of discrimination to an authority. Moreover, almost a third (27 %) of the Roma surveyed do not know of any law prohibiting discrimination based on ethnic origin, and most Roma (82 %) do not know any organisations offering support to victims of discrimination.
Gypsies in Bulgaria and Romania report the lowest levels of discrimination (22% and 29% in the last 5 years, respectively). At first glance this is rather curious because Bulgarians and Romanians can be quite openly hostile to Gypsies and their anti-social behavior.
The share of Gypsies in education is rising, often from a very low base:
Gypsies say Czechs are most racist:
Gypsy behavior continues to be remarkable. While I am as hostile to mass education as anyone, and contra liberal platitudes, to not send your children to school (which, if nothing else, is a free baby-sitting service) requires considerable effort upon the Gypsies’ part. This is a conscious decision and not the product of “exclusion.” As usual and in highly condescending fashion, egaliterians deny minorities’ share of agency.
In Western Europe, the contrast between Gypsies and other minorities is particularly marked. Street corners in Paris, Brussels, Sweden, and even smaller French towns are now teeming with eastern European Gypsies, mostly from the Balkans. The White European immigrants work, Arab immigrants too will set up shops and work to some extent (even as their wives might stay at home), and Black immigrants will be happy to sell you some weed. Only the Gypsies sleep on the street and send their own children to beg for them, something which, I think, would make any other minority group die of shame.
These Gypsies beg or sometimes pushily provide services, such as washing your windshield unsolicited. The least obnoxious play music, typically a track from the Godfather. During a summer camp in France, some Gypsies ransacked our campsite while we were away. The Gypsies had rummaged through the girls’ underwear and stolen our CDs. The girls were in tears, while the boys – we were teenagers – gathered ourselves into a pack and began looking for the Gypsies. I imagine this is how lynchings get started but, in fact, we never found them.
The survey points to Gypsies being an alien R-selected group within the European continent, cut off from the rest of society. The study notes that: “compared with the general population, Roma are on average younger. This could be explained by higher birth rates and lower life expectancy of Rome in most of the countries surveyed” (p. 17). A Slovenian friend of mine, in charge of his town’s Gypsy Policy, notes that the local Gypsies, who have been there for generations, do not speak Slovenian.
How will European attitudes toward Gypsies develop in the future? There are two contradictory trends. On the one hand, the EU and White women will seek to infantilize Gypsies and blame problems on the majority. A Slovenian white affluent female liberal explained to me that Spain was pioneering an “innovative” approach, in which Gypsies were not only given special access to resources to make up for their underprivilege, but police were also “educated” on Gypsy history and culture, and should adapt their approach accordingly. “It’s a two-way street,” she explained.
At the political level, the EU demands, in order to access its funds, “introducing a specific ex ante thematic conditionality, which requires an appropriate national Roma integration strategy to be in place for using funds for Roma integration” (p. 9). Concretely, this means national governments, especially in eastern Europe, have to at least pretend to try to “integrate” Gypsies and, presumably, eliminate inequalities between them and the majority, regardless of Gypsy behavior’s share of responsibility in said inequalities. In seeking to force Gypsy children into school, the EU is, in typical Eurocentric fashion, attempting to destroy this Indian people’s unique way of life.
On the other hand, Blacks and Muslims are continuously flowing into Western Europe. These new populations do not have the apparently-generous and sentimental approach of White women, EU institutions, or Soros’ NGOs. In France, the Arabs are frankly tired of the Gypsies and regularly instigate pogroms against them, burning down their camps.
A few years ago, after alleged thefts against them, young Arabs in Lyon threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at a Gypsy encampment while the Gypsies defended themselves with metal bars. In the highly Arabized city of Marseilles, Gypsy encampments are regularly torched by exasperated locals, whose ethnic origin is discretely omitted by the media. Last year, Arab twitter was abuzz with rumors that Gypsies were kidnapping children, leading to several attacks against Gypsies and 19 arrests.
You can change even the Europeans, but some things never change.