I happened upon the following headline today:
Roma ‘slums’ face demolition in Orban’s Hungary. The article may be found here.
That’s an example of the good-faith and integrity that we have all come to expect from the profession of journalism. Something is very bad, and it is happening in their country. It reminds me of a similar news headline from just last week: David Dunlap and Whitney Butler: two more whites slaughtered in Obama’s America. Here’s the link. Though there’s little need to provide it as you are all familiar from the wall-to-wall national news coverage of this interracial hate murder. The left-wing blogosphere is particularly inflamed.
Though back to Hungary. Note the quotations around the term slums. This is there to indicate that the description of the gypsy encampments as slums is purely subjective, and certainly not a characterization that could be widely agreed upon. As a for instance, which of these three photos would you guess is not a gypsy “slum?”
It’s difficult to say for certain, isn’t it? So these places where gypsies dwell–let’s call them instead “low-crime, prosperous, tax-paying, oppressed enclaves”–are no longer welcome amidst segments of the Hungarian majority. Read for yourself.
With bulldozers at their doorstep, beginning to tear down their homes, it is hard to imagine life could get worse for the Roma of Miskolc, Hungary’s impoverished third-largest city.
But with the far-right Jobbik party possibly about to win the Miskolc mayorship in local elections on Sunday, it could.
Just a clarification before we continue. As slums is purely subjective and thus warrants quotation marks, far-right is an objective term that does not. It simply exists as a natural law and is in no way a rhetorical conjuring of the media. In fact, much like the periodic table of elements, we may classify objectively each component of the far-right by the number of “fars” it is preceded by. Obviously Jobbik is a quite mild 1far party. And before you ask, no of course there is no far-left.
In May, the city council -– which, like Hungary’s parliament, is run by Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s right-wing Fidesz –- voted to demolish 13 areas inhabited predominantly by Miskolc’s 20,000-strong Roma, or Gypsy, community.
The wrecking machinery arrived in August. So far only around a dozen homes have been razed — but this is just the start.
“We have nowhere to go, we will be left homeless,” Eva Molnar, a 50-year-old Roma whose respiratory problems mean she can’t work, told AFP as she clutched an eviction letter giving her until October 20 to vacate her home.
The area where she lives, squeezed between a derelict communist-era metalworks and a football stadium slated for an upgrade, is quiet, since many of her neighbours have already left.
“They’ll not be happy until we’re all gone,” Molnar said.
Many local residents support the move. “About time,” one shopper at a bus stop told AFP. “Slums have no place in Miskolc.”
The mayor claims that 35,000 signatures have been collected in support of the demolitions.
“The Roma have to leave Miskolc as around 70-80 percent of Hungarian society simply doesn’t not want to see them or have anything to do with them,” Mihaly Simon of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union rights group told AFP.
Four years after Orban was elected, and despite his promises to improve their misery, the European Union member state’s Roma trail in practically every indicator from living standards to health, as they do throughout eastern and central Europe.
Under Orban, 51, who has been accused at home and abroad of eroding democracy, many Roma — who comprise eight to nine percent of Hungary’s 10 million population — have been forced into “workfare” schemes, doing menial work in order to continue receiving welfare payments.[The inhumanity!]
But not all of the properties in Miskolc are tumbledown shacks or Hungarian versions of the favelas of Brazil. Many are one-storey houses — lots of them crumbling, but some of them well-maintained.
And where Miskolc’s Roma are supposed to go is unclear. Several nearby villages have warned they have no money to provide work or benefits to any newcomers, and are collecting petitions opposing the “export” of the poor.
“It’s barbaric, there were no impact studies for this, nobody spoke to the Gypsies,” Gabor Varadi, head of a local Roma political grouping, told AFP.
“The council is spending billions of forints [millions of euros (dollars)]… on the new football stadium instead of social housing for poor people,” he said. [You’re going to spend on you instead of us?]
A few of those being evicted in Miskolc — those with indefinite-term leases — are being offered money or flats elsewhere, but Jobbik’s candidate in Sunday’s election, Peter Jakab, says he will scrap even this if elected.
Jobbik, which won 21 percent of the vote in general elections in April, sparking alarm throughout Europe, says it will flatten the houses immediately and force the Roma to cover the demolition costs.
“They knew when they signed the lease that it would expire one day, that the owner might kick them out,” Jakab told AFP.
Jobbik, which has sought to soften its image in recent years, still says it wants to stop “Gypsy crime”, create ghettos for Roma “deviants” and create a rural “gendarmerie” of the sort last seen in Hungary before World War II.
The local elections are expected to see Orban’s party remain firmly in control.
But nationwide, Jobbik is forecast to more than double its control of municipalities, from 12 currently to around 30.
Hungarians deciding they don’t want to suffer or subsidize their own predation. That’s certainly a galling stance. Though I again noted quotes above. This time around “Gypsy crime.” And as mentioned above, we now know this is a term of opinion that probably isn’t even objectively verifiable.
It’s difficult to verify at any rate. I couldn’t find Hungarian crime statistics broken out by race or ethnicity. Though I saw multiple sources asserting that the gypsy unemployment rate in Hungary is over 90% and that they constitute over half the prison population from a 10% population base. If true, then there very well may be something to these unfounded rumors of “gypsy crime.”
And the strangest thing of all is that no matter where Gypsies alight, they create friction with the locals–for no reason whatsoever. Take a look.
It’s understood that any narrative requires both good actors and bad. And obviously Gypsies are the former. But if the 20th guy in a row you meet is a prick, the prick just might be you. Perhaps that aphorism could be applied to another eternally put-upon people as well. But while I hold my breath for that realization to dawn, perhaps a more universal observation will suffice. Diversity in close quarters equals conflict. It will always equal conflict. And the amount of time that a malign state can tamp down that conflict is finite. The most humane and ultimately least barbaric approach is to cherish the world’s diversity by letting each thrive in its own secure habitat according to its own customs and temperament. One does not logically express affection for different tribes by cramming them into the same pen. Neither tranquility nor diversity will long endure.
Though of course those receptive to this message have already internalized it, while those who are not remain invincible idiots. So we may as well keep asking ourselves for the next few hundred lifetimes…How can Europe integrate the Gypsies?