Saturday, March 19, 2011

A new ism

I ran across a new ism with which to hector and badger people: antiziganism.

It means you don't like Gypsies. Whom we are supposed to call "Roma people."

Back when I was in ultraPC AIDS work, I once used the word "gypped" and was chastised for my anti-Gypsy racism. It had never occurred to me, of course, that there was any connection. Part of my white male privilege, to be unconscious of subaltern oppression.

Ah, how I long for those days!

The Wiki article is really funny.
As an endogamous culture with a tendency to practise self-segregation, the Romanis have generally resisted assimilation with the indigenous communities of whichever countries they have moved to; they have thus successfully preserved their distinctive and unique culture.
Distinctive and unique Roma shack with distinctive and unique unkempt Roma children

It seems that they have always been loathed by any people with whom they came in contact. I ran into them when I lived in Italy in the 70's. It was never pleasant.

And in this article, which piously catalogues them as victims of racism, prejudice, bigotry and stereotyping "as thieves, tramps, con men and fortune tellers," there is a large image of a Czech housing development that they reduced to a distinctive and unique ruin! And this explanation:
"Transparent" panel building (panelák) in Chanov ghetto near Most, Czech Republic. The housing estate was a sought after location, when it was built in 1970s with flats of the highest category. The authorities introduced a model plan of cohabitation of majority population and Roma, however with the rising percentage of Roma inhabitants (who were assigned luxurious flats after being relocated from poverty-stricken locations) the majority population gradually left, eventually leading to establishment of exclusively Roma district.[89] A poll in 2007 marked the district as the worst place of Ústí nad Labem Region.[89] The depicted panel building in the middle was stripped off everything that had any value by the Roma inhabitants and in the end had to be torn down.[90] Despite debt on rent in excess of €3,5 million in total, all the tenants of remaining buildings are still provided with water and electricity,[91] unlike in many other European countries.

Fair and balanced. Ziganism: pro or anti? You decide.

PS Funny update:

PPS update:

My very moral friend Bill responded to my unfriendly remark about the "Roma" by saying that Hitler had killed a lot of them. In his world, if Hitler didn't like you, that makes you ok because you are a victim. Non sequitur, but typical. Genetic testing, by the way, verifies that they are Indians, of low caste. 


Anonymous said...

wiki: »The root zigan (pronounced [ˈtsiɡaːn]) is the basis of the word given to the Roma people in many European languages.« I guess reading bkw, nigaz ("with attitude" etc)?

I can hear my ancestral bleat (vis-a-vis any two-sided thing): if we change our negativity into radical affirmation, then their internalization of our negativity in problematic cultural habits will evapourate and the result will be a population group with colourful dances and costumes etc to contribute to the rainbow coalition.

The ancestors are the problem, eh?

Anonymous said...

BWT, to gyp or gip someone maybe derives not from gypsy (Egypt origin) but from 'gyp', male servant at Cambridge University (etym, gippo [scullion] from french jupeau jupe, from Arabic jubba [long outer robe].

Thus possibly your remark wasn't unconscious anti-Roma racism, but unconscious classism PLUS unconscious anti-Arab racism.

Anonymous said...

Reminds of my mother's sometime term "bo-hunk" term for a muscular but uncouth fellow, from her petit-bourgeois upbringing in pre-WW2 Toronto. She had no notion the origin was ethnicism vs Canadians of Bohemian-Hungarian origin (I assume this must be the origin, anyway).

Today this 'hunk' term has been revalued. Bo- could have been kept in the revaluation as "beau," but I guess the gods of lingo decided "too much semiotics."

Leah said...

People used to say: to Jew someone down. I bet there are still those that do.
The flip side of the Gypsy (roma and sitney btw) are the Jews. For centuries different and never allowed to assimilate, once allowed to, they did so with a vengeance, while still holding on to certain cultural customs.
So what does Europe do? Slaughters both en masse in WWII.
Methinks there is something wrong with Europe.

Anonymous said...

I remember'd laughing at the usage warning in my dictionary re "to jew someone down": "this is a vulgar and offensive usage, even when not consciously expressing an antisemitic attitude."

Sc laughing because evidently Gentiles can really feel that using "jew" as a verb this way isn't connected with unfavourable attitudes toward Jews. The dictionary accordingly must say that even though you may mean no offense against Jews in this usage, really, you know, it is offensive.

I remember'd too something about adjective "rum" (also "rummy") as British colloquialism for bad, poor quality etc (whence the card game name). Apparently this IS from Rom, gypsy, although a first meaning is given as "odd, queer, strange."

But what will we do about the Roma Catholic Church, or St Paul's epistle to the Roma?

Anonymous said...

& "sitney"? ... what does Dionysos make of that etymology?

Anonymous said...

I think it wasn't until I was in high school that I knew that Gypsies were an actual people, rather than some folklore item about some sort of magical beings, possibly invented by Disney.

I read somewhere, but not necessarily anywhere of great veracity, that traditional Gypsy culture included an idea that their religion forbade them to be literate, as reading and writing would be a contamination from non-Gypsies. If this is true, it is very stoopid.

Re odd event in Pittsburgh years ago. Someone made a statue of a classic 'Burgh image, and set it up in Point State Park, duly named "Hunky Steelworker". It wasn't there long before the opinion circulated that 'hunky' had a tainted history of being an insult to Hungarians, and so the statue had to go, and go it did.


OreamnosAmericanus said...

RE Bohunk and forbidden statues. I read of or see stories of primitive peoples, bound by superstitions, who react with fear or anger when something which seems inconsequential to us strikes them as likely to bring bad luck or anger the gods. When I hear about things like the statue removal, with its thin connection to anti Hungarian feeling --I guess we never had enough of them in NY to develop any feelings about them as a group-- I recognize that the primitive people still R us.

OreamnosAmericanus said...

"I can hear my ancestral bleat (vis-a-vis any two-sided thing): if we change our negativity into radical affirmation, then their internalization of our negativity in problematic cultural habits will evapourate and the result will be a population group with colourful dances and costumes etc to contribute to the rainbow coalition."

Concise and painfully accurate!

Anonymous said...

A tattooist describes encounters with Gypsy illiteracy:


OreamnosAmericanus said...

The tattoo story was funny...I won't get hate mail cause they can't read this LOL

Anonymous said...

P.S. re the usage warning in the dictionary vs the verb to "jew" someone down. I suppose proof that this usage isn't consciously 'anti-semitic' is supply'd by the news items one hears every now and then that a idealistic youngster has objected to referring to someone as a "Jew" rather than as a "Jewish person." I recall one case where the authority of a rabbi was brought in to convince that "Jew" is not of itself an anti-semitic term, and that accordingly a euphemism such as "Jewish person" isn't necessary (and in fact even confirms anti-semitism by implying that to be a Jew is an objectionable identity).

Reminds of the Monty Python sketch about a search for an offensive epithet for Belgians. I think Cleese selected "Dirty Belgian Bastards!"

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