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Anti-Roma Violence in Europe: A Q&A With Gwendolyn Albert

By Alexander Zaitchik on July 6, 2010 - 8:34 am, Posted in Anti-Roma, Europe

On Friday, 26 June, CNN International broadcast a documentary called “Scars of Racism” (videos here, here and here). It told the story of a young Czech Roma (commonly known in the U.S. as a “gypsy”) named Natálka Kudriková and the neo-Nazis who almost burned her to death in an arson attack committed last year in the Czech town of Vitkov. It was a rare look by the international media into the anti-Roma violence that has plagued Central and Eastern Europe since the fall of communism two decades ago.

Violence against Roma has emerged as a leading human rights issue not just in the former Soviet bloc, but also across Europe. The perpetrators are often ideologically driven neo-Nazis, sometimes with ties to established political parties. Other times, they are local vigilantes taking the law into their own hands. In the past five years fatal attacks have been reported from Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Russia, Slovakia and Turkey. In Italy, six arsons over the last three years have resulted in multiple fatalities, including children.

Gwendolyn Albert is an American living in Prague who consulted with CNN on “Scars of Racism.” A resident of the Czech Republic since 1990, Albert has been reporting on the human rights situation of the Roma minority in Central and Eastern Europe for the past 15 years. She is currently consulting on research in this area for the Council of Europe’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner and the European Roma Rights Centre. Hatewatch recently spoke with Albert about the rise in far-right violence against Roma, and whether international media attention like CNN’s recent documentary is making a difference.

Anti-Roma violence and racism has been a defining feature of post-communist societies since the early 1990s. Are governments finally getting more serious about tackling it?

No government is doing enough, not in Central and Eastern Europe, and certainly not in Western Europe. This violence is not limited to the former communist bloc. France and Italy are probably the worst places in Western Europe to be Roma right now. Italy has been the most publicized and most discussed case, but France has a number of discriminatory institutions in place that disproportionately impact Roma.

What are the most obnoxious elements of Italian policy?

Starting in 2006, cities across Italy have been adopting “Security Pacts” which give local officials the legal powers to target Roma for removal. These forced evictions of Roma have increased during 2010. The Italian police have been using disproportionate force during their evictions of Roma camps for at least five years. This has all been in response to Bulgaria and Romania acceding to the EU [European Union] in 2007 and the large outflow of Roma from both those countries to the West [migration within the EU is unrestricted].

In 2008, the Italian government declared a “state of emergency with regard to nomad community settlements”—this was a legal action unprecedented in post-WWII Europe, the declaration of a state of emergency with respect to a particular ethnic group. Their presence alone is defined as constituting the emergency and local authorities are empowered to fingerprint and photograph all residents of any “nomad community settlement,” including minors, to expel whom they choose, and to open up new camps and order people to live in them. Freedom of movement — of citizens, human beings, not just money and goods — between EU member states is one of the founding principles of the EU, but not where the Roma are concerned, at least not in Italy or France.

Are there societal shifts occurring with regards to anti-Roma sentiment?

It depends. Here in the Czech Republic, for example, there has been a shift in society recently. The fact that an infant almost died a horrible death in the Vitkov attack generated unprecedented empathy for her and her family. This doesn’t mean the Molotov cocktails have stopped flying, quite the contrary. In one of those attacks, a full-scale criminal investigation apprehended several suspects relatively quickly and there will be a trial. Again, this is an advance; usually law enforcement takes a “no harm, no foul” approach when these attempts are unsuccessful (no larger fire, no injuries) and classifies them as misdemeanors, which means homicide investigators never get involved — and they are the ones with the resources to really track perpetrators down.

Historically, how ingrained is the tolerance for anti-Roma violence?

Anti-Gypsyism is a deeply engrained European cultural touchstone, from Ireland to Russia, from Greece to Norway. It has persisted for centuries. It comes from the same place all prejudice comes from, and that is fear. For those who understand how to perpetuate and exploit fear, the Roma have always been the scapegoats par excellence in Europe.

Tolerance of violence per se in Europe is quite high — you have only to look at domestic violence statistics for any country there to see the degree to which violence remains culturally sanctioned in Europe (irrespective of strict handgun laws). As for racist skinheads and neo-Nazis, some people consider them super-patriots and openly cheer them on, but most people probably consider them a pathetic, irrelevant counter-culture group. Much of Europe has pretty strict laws (which are under-enforced) regarding defamation and racism. Because of these laws, many European neo-Nazis actually house their organizations’ websites on U.S.-based servers. That’s something I wish would change.

How does anti-Roma violence track with the rise in anti-Semitic violence?

Anti-Semitic violence has been on the rise all across Europe as well, specifically violence against Holocaust sites and memorials and against synagogues and [Jewish] cemeteries. Holocaust denial websites have mushroomed on the Web — Facebook had to deal with it last year. This violence has nothing to do with the size of the Jewish population in any country. It’s part of the ideology of Holocaust denial, which becomes more and more open and prevalent the further east you go. You would be surprised how little is actually taught about the Holocaust in most of the former Soviet satellites.

What needs to be done?

Generally speaking, Europe first needs to take all forms of violence very seriously and devote resources to reducing its incidence. As for the perpetrators of neo-Nazi violence, the media have a huge role to play. They should investigate and report on who these people are and why they make the choices they do. They should investigate the ties between the various groups and who funds them, and they should investigate whether they are linked to established political parties.

  • Vadoma Aine

    First and foremost, the Roma are Roma. They are not Czech or Croatian or Polish or Soviet or French or Romanian or whatever else. Historically, the Roma have not been accepted in their host countries– a problem that still occurs.

    In every country, even America, it is hard to be Roma. The police watch their houses, other citizens accuse them of committing crimes, even if there is no reason or evidence except for their being Roma, and this is in every country. I worked with a fellow, a while back, who remembered Roma coming through his hometown (a small town in KS) when he was young, his father, the sheriff, and several other townsmen met the kumpania with guns and ran them out.

    The Roma of central and eastern Europe face daily prejudice and segregation, not just because of their failure to integrate, Ken, but because of the “regular citizens” refusal to hire them or think of them as anything but superstitious savages and criminals.

    The Roma should be allowed to keep their cultural identity AND be considered full citizens and people in the countries in which they live. To ask them to give up what makes them unique and beautiful is to ask everyone to become as culturally empty as the average American.

    The Roma don’t compare to the illegal Mexicans, because the Roma are NOT illegally in *most* of the countries in which they live. The Roma have been in Europe for hundreds of years, many of the kumpaniyi’s have been fairly stationary, meaning they have stayed in ONE country, for much of that time. Think of them as another religion rather than non-citizens. Would you not hire a Jew just because the Jews have different rituals than Christians? No. That’s idiotic. It is the same with the Roma.

    As for their criminal tendencies? I blame most of that on poverty. Extreme poverty, such as what the Roma live in, creates a hotbed of criminal activity. As does ignorance. If you were so poor you couldn’t afford shoes or food or water . . . If your house was in such a bad part of town that you didn’t have access to a toilet . . . If you lived in the conditions that the Roma live in wouldn’t you be tempted to commit crimes to get out of it? It’s happened with every new emigrant minority that’s come to America (the most famous are, of course, the Italians and their mafia), it happens with the Roma.

    People are people, no matter their ethnicity, religion, culture, or whatever. So learn some compassion and deal with it.

  • Ken Swaizaqk

    The only experience I have w/gypsies in Prague (lived there for one year) is when they tried to steal from me or sell fake drugs (and no, I was not shopping for real drugs).

    Pathetic. The USA is dealing with a non intergration of the Hispanic population currently. The want Spanish in schools, no mandatory English proficiency, Mexican flags, etc. All while suckling at the tit of the American tax payer. A lot of them are hard working, good family oriented people. There are, however, a lot of bad apples.

    I my my opinion, the Roma people have been given given every chance to become members of Czech society, but continue to reject it.

    I am all for identifying with one’s culture, but there has to be some level of integration to the society in which you live.

    This era of PC non sense will not help anything in the long run, it will continue to divide cultures.

  • http://thesecondopiniontribune.blogspot.com/ tdaonp

    The Roma represent a basic human spirit of travel. They carry the genes that drove us from the trees and made us the most widely spread species on earth. Honour them instead of hound them. I wrote a piece on it here: http://thesecondopiniontribune.blogspot.com/

    - Henk

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    “A history revisionist who claims that Stalin wasn’t such a bad guy, and that it was his underlings like Ezhov and Beria who were truly evil and to be blamed for his atrocities? Just great, bro. Sort of like some Hitler apologists who say that it was his henchmen Goebbels and Himmler who were the true architects of Holocaust.”

    Actually J. Arch Getty, whom you obviously never heard about until I brought him up, is recognized as one of the leading scholars on the Soviet archives. He was one of the first Westerners to study the archives. Because his writings are based on evidence, he cannot be compared to David Irving, who attempts to blame Himmler for the Holocaust(Irving deliberately mistranslated and cherry-picked quotes to make this assertion).

    “How are the words of Communism’s victims and their family about the horrors that they’ve went through even supposed to be “anecdotal”, when there’s evidence like the (suppressed) Soviet population censuses, the declassified GPU and NKVD archives (a lot of of which were destroyed or altered during the dissolution of the USSR) and last but not least, the mass graves.”

    Wow, everyone you talked to happened to be a direct victim of Communist terror? That sure is lucky.

    But see what the archival evidence shows is that the amount of people executed was far below what people like you claim. Of course when the evidence doesn’t show what they want, anti-Communist scholars simply reference “archival evidence” without any specifics, like you are doing here. Demographic evidence, especially compared with the losses in the war, also disproves claims of multi-million body counts. I’m sorry if you don’t like that, or if your Eastern European neighbors don’t like it, but that is all there is evidence for.

    ” Mass graves that are in such innumerable numbers and scattered throughout the former Soviet territory, many of them still continue to be uncovered to this very day. A most recent one was discovered by the construction workers in Siberia couple of months ago, containing several thousand remains.”

    Source?

    “Besides the Soviet refugees, I’ve also personally met in my life the Jewish refugees who fled the Nazi terror, the Egyptian Coptic and Lebanese Maronite Christians who have been terrorized by the Muslim Arabs into leaving their native homeland, and Cuban emigres. Hell, my own grandfather was a native Berber refugee from Tunisia who was forced to leave his native land by the Muslim Arabs. If I’d followed your mentality, I would consider what they have to say about what had happened to them as nothing more than just an “anecdotal claim” too. ”

    Anecdotal claims are anecdotal claims, period. I don’t care where they are from.

    “No. Their anti-Soviet views were influenced by the murders and tortures of their loved ones, more than anything else. ”

    Funny how every anti-Communist I meet happens to know direct victims of Stalin.

    “Please provide an actual source that states that a considerable chuck of Baltic nations’ populace wants to bring back Communism and says that life under the Soviets was better. And I specifically mean the native Baltic peoples’ opinion, not that of the ethnic Russians who were “planted” in the Baltic states during the Soviet occupation of those lands. ”

    I see what you did there, nice try. I said that recent surveys show majorities saying they lived better under Communism, or that conditions are worse now, not that they want to return to Communism.

    “Distaste towards Orwell. Spoken like a true, hardcore Stalinist.”

    Or spoken like someone who knows the difference between a novelist and a scholar.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    “Similarly, Charlie Chaplin was an actor. Just a comic actor and an occasional movie director. And despite him not being a historian or an expert on Nazism, did that prevent his 1940 blockbuster “The Great Dictator” from satirizing the Nazi dictatorship and speaking up about the plight of Jews in Hitler’s Germany?”

    This satire does not equal to scholarly research. If you want knowledge on the Third Reich and its history and policies, you read books like Rise and Fall of the Third Reich; you don’t put on The Great Dictator.

    “I most certainly don’t think so. And since George Orwell’s works were banned in all Communist nations and he himself was reviled by the hard leftists of many stripes worldwide, this sort of explains why you think that he was “particularly bad.”

    And this proves….nothing. George Orwell never set foot in the Soviet Union. He had no idea what went on there.

    “I’m merely exercising the same right as you; being selective of whom I sympathize with and whom I don’t. After all, whenever an American child is raped or murdered by a Mexican illegal alien or an MS 13 gangbanger, we never see your sympathies towards the victim, now do we?”

    First off, we see sympathy any time someone is raped or murdered, regardless of the perpetrator. Second, that you even make this claim shows how delusional you are.

    “On the other hand, if something bad happens to an illegal from Mexico, you are always duly here, issuing condemnations.”

    Am I? I didn’t notice.

    “Or whenever Islamic “immigrant youth” gangs go ape in the host European nations or commit violence against the native European populace (the latest example being the Grenoble riot in France a few days back), you say absolutely nothing.”

    Really? Of course I personally say nothing but mainly because I don’t live in France and care little about what goes on there. I will say that Islam, like all religion, is regressive and cannot hold any hope for the poor immigrants of Europe.

    ” On the other hand, when a European politician wants to do something about that, you cry “Islamphobia.”

    You know, you keep accusing me of saying these things and I can’t remember any of it. I call someone Islamophobic when they say things that are Islamophobic. It’s not that there aren’t any good arguments against Islam, or any religion for that matter. The problem is people distracting the populace by scapegoating Muslims.

    ” Hell, you yourself have stated many times your own bias against Europeans and peoples of European descent around the world, even going as far as denying their physical existence. ”

    Genius, I AM of “European descent.” Yet by virtue of having been born in America, raised in American culture, I am not viewed as European by people from Europe. You wouldn’t be either unless you are from Europe. I do not “deny the existence” of European people. I deny some kind of unseen bond between everybody possessing a certain set of physical characteristics which you call “white” or European.

    Do you think that is unfair? Well consider the groups you excluded- Chechens, Ignushes, and Crimean Tatars. All have been in Europe for hundreds of years. Amongst all these groups you would find plenty of people who are “whiter” in appearance than some Europeans. Yet you would never consider that they are related to you.

    “Excuse me, but how the hell does Japanese-American
    internment (of slightly over 100,000 people) even come CLOSE to the scope of Soviet ethnic policies? Tell me, how? In terms of human and material losses, at the very least.”

    Numbers aren’t the point. The reason and the potential threat faced by the USSR is the point.

    “During the whole internment only ONE Japanese-American person (James Wakasa) is known to have died, in a jarring contrast to the MILLIONS who have died in the immediately prior to, during and after the WWII Stalin’s ethnic deportations alone.”

    Sorry but there is no evidence that “millions” died in “Stalin’s ethnic deportations”. These number in tens of thousands only for certain groups, and this had a lot more to do with conditions during the war. Of course I do not deny that these deportations constitute a legitimate “crime” of the Soviet regime, though they were under severe duress. I think you have no idea exactly how destructive the invasion of the USSR was.

    Again, you clearly don’t know what you are talking about, and you statements about “my comments” are delusional. Maybe next time you should actually read what your opponents are saying, and do some research into issues like immigration.

  • M the BarbaryFalcon

    Almost forgot

    “My comments on Communism are based on the latest research by a number of scholars, particularly J. Arch Getty”

    A history revisionist who claims that Stalin wasn’t such a bad guy, and that it was his underlings like Ezhov and Beria who were truly evil and to be blamed for his atrocities? Just great, bro. Sort of like some Hitler apologists who say that it was his henchmen Goebbels and Himmler who were the true architects of Holocaust.

    “Yes yes, everyone who tries to lecture me about Communism always says “I spoke to a lot of people who lived in the USSR…” Well I don’t care. First of all, a lot of these claims are anecdotal.”
    “this concerns people you met in America”

    How are the words of Communism’s victims and their family about the horrors that they’ve went through even supposed to be “anecdotal”, when there’s evidence like the (suppressed) Soviet population censuses, the declassified GPU and NKVD archives (a lot of of which were destroyed or altered during the dissolution of the USSR) and last but not least, the mass graves. Mass graves that are in such innumerable numbers and scattered throughout the former Soviet territory, many of them still continue to be uncovered to this very day. A most recent one was discovered by the construction workers in Siberia couple of months ago, containing several thousand remains. Not even a POS Stalinist like yourself can deny that. Besides the Soviet refugees, I’ve also personally met in my life the Jewish refugees who fled the Nazi terror, the Egyptian Coptic and Lebanese Maronite Christians who have been terrorized by the Muslim Arabs into leaving their native homeland, and Cuban emigres. Hell, my own grandfather was a native Berber refugee from Tunisia who was forced to leave his native land by the Muslim Arabs. If I’d followed your mentality, I would consider what they have to say about what had happened to them as nothing more than just an “anecdotal claim” too.

    “They can be easily influenced by the emigre community.”

    No. Their anti-Soviet views were influenced by the murders and tortures of their loved ones, more than anything else.

    “Thanks to the economic crisis however, even in some Baltic countries there is a small majority now claiming they lived better under Communism.”

    Please provide an actual source that states that a considerable chuck of Baltic nations’ populace wants to bring back Communism and says that life under the Soviets was better. And I specifically mean the native Baltic peoples’ opinion, not that of the ethnic Russians who were “planted” in the Baltic states during the Soviet occupation of those lands.

    “Especially when you lead with a quote from Orwell of all people”

    Distaste towards Orwell. Spoken like a true, hardcore Stalinist.

  • BarbaryFalcon

    Ruslan Amirkhanov said,

    “I got some bad news for you, George Orwell was a novelist, and a particularly bad one at that. He is not a Sovietologist, or a historian.”

    Similarly, Charlie Chaplin was an actor. Just a comic actor and an occasional movie director. And despite him not being a historian or an expert on Nazism, did that prevent his 1940 blockbuster “The Great Dictator” from satirizing the Nazi dictatorship and speaking up about the plight of Jews in Hitler’s Germany? I most certainly don’t think so. And since George Orwell’s works were banned in all Communist nations and he himself was reviled by the hard leftists of many stripes worldwide, this sort of explains why you think that he was “particularly bad.”

    “Perhaps you can tell me WHY you have no sympathy toward Chechens, Ingushes, and Crimean Tatars?”
    “why ignore the suffering of three groups which had it worse than most others?”

    I’m merely exercising the same right as you; being selective of whom I sympathize with and whom I don’t. After all, whenever an American child is raped or murdered by a Mexican illegal alien or an MS 13 gangbanger, we never see your sympathies towards the victim, now do we? On the other hand, if something bad happens to an illegal from Mexico, you are always duly here, issuing condemnations. Or whenever Islamic “immigrant youth” gangs go ape in the host European nations or commit violence against the native European populace (the latest example being the Grenoble riot in France a few days back), you say absolutely nothing. On the other hand, when a European politician wants to do something about that, you cry “Islamphobia.” Hell, you yourself have stated many times your own bias against Europeans and peoples of European descent around the world, even going as far as denying their physical existence.

    “Yes, they were unfair, as were the restrictions placed on Japanese people in the US after 1941.”

    Excuse me, but how the hell does Japanese-American
    internment (of slightly over 100,000 people) even come CLOSE to the scope of Soviet ethnic policies? Tell me, how? In terms of human and material losses, at the very least. During the whole internment only ONE Japanese-American person (James Wakasa) is known to have died, in a jarring contrast to the MILLIONS who have died in the immediately prior to, during and after the WWII Stalin’s ethnic deportations alone. The Japanese-Americans who’ve suffered property loss and damage during WWII and their descendants were given a compensation of about $2,000,000,000 by the Department of Justice, while the surviving victims of Stalinist savagery haven’s received even a single kopeik neither from Soviet Union, nor from its official successor state, Russia.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Fail, epic fail.

    “Your constant defense of Communism, as well as the denial and downplaying of Communist crimes, brings to my mind the famous quote by George Orwell;

    “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

    I got some bad news for you, George Orwell was a novelist, and a particularly bad one at that. He is not a Sovietologist, or a historian. His narrative on the USSR came directly from a group of Trotskyite-wannabes whom he met in Spain. My comments on Communism are based on the latest research by a number of scholars, particularly J. Arch Getty.

    “Throughout the Soviet history and especially during Stalin’s reign, entire ethnic groups were branded as “hostile” and subjected to ethnic cleansing, persecution and slave labor in gulags.”

    The Soviet policies toward certain groups were not far removed from the policies of other nations during that era toward potential spies. Yes, they were unfair, as were the restrictions placed on Japanese people in the US after 1941.

    “Now, while I don’t know (and nor do I care) what is Ruslan’s ethnicity, it’s obvious that his people didn’t have it as bad under Soviets as the say for example Cossacks, Poles,
    Volga Germans, Estonians, Latvians, Karelian Finns, Chechens, Ingushes and Crimean Tatars. No sympathy is implied on my part on the latter three though, of course. ”

    Perhaps you can tell me WHY you have no sympathy toward Chechens, Ingushes, and Crimean Tatars? If the enhanced scrutiny towards certain ethnic groups(and yes, I regard the mass deportations of certain groups in 43-44 to be a serious error), then why ignore the suffering of three groups which had it worse than most others? Could it have anything to do with the fact that these are traditionally Muslim peoples?

    “I myself have had met over the years numerous peoples of former Soviet Union, and spoken with them about what the life was like under Communism, and I have always noted the almost the same pattern happening every time.”

    Yes yes, everyone who tries to lecture me about Communism always says “I spoke to a lot of people who lived in the USSR…” Well I don’t care. First of all, a lot of these claims are anecdotal. Second, I live in Russia, and I have been here for quite a long time now. In other words, I talk to a LOT more people who lived in the USSR than you. In addition to this I have traveled extensively throughout Eastern Europe and I am familiar with what has happened since the fall of revisionist “socialist” states.

    In short, I know more about Soviet history than you, period.

    ” Those who were from the most industrious and prosperous parts of former USSR, like the ethnic Balts and Western Ukrainians, they detested having their homelands being forced into Soviet Union and they absolutely despised Joseph Stalin.”

    Again, this concerns people you met in America, Canada, or wherever you live. They can be easily influenced by the emigre community. Thanks to the economic crisis however, even in some Baltic countries there is a small majority now claiming they lived better under Communism. Ukraine as a whole has an even larger majority in that respect. The Western Ukrainian nationalists sold out Ukraine to the Poles, then stabbed the Poles in the back; who cares what those delusional fascists think?

    ” On the other hand, those who were from the backward and impoverished Central Asian ’stans, they viewed Communism in an extremely positive light, and highly spoke of Stalin as if he was an almost demigod.”

    Again, this is skewed by the fact that you meet these people outside of their own countries. Today, Stalin is quite popular, probably most popular, with Muscovite Russians. However, in 1989-91, Muscovite Russians and other inhabitants of the better-off, European areas of the USSR, were among those most eager to tear down the system. As numerous people have told me(people who were young adults at the time), they were naive and had too much in terms of economic security. They actually believed that they would have all the protections and benefits of the socialist economy, plus an abundance of consumer goods like in America. Ironically this obsession with an idealized, fantasy of America led to buyer’s remorse many years down the road, and I suspect it is largely responsible for the current anti-Americanism in Russia today. But I digress.

    While the USSR brought modernization to Central Asia, the revisionist policies beginning with Khruschev stopped the even development of the economy. As a result, some Central Asian SSRs such as the Uzbek SSR became some of the poorest territories of the union. The break-up of the USSR had a lot to do with some groups having too much and wanting more(the Europeans), and some groups thinking they were screwed and they would get more with independence. A lot of times the latter misguided belief was due to the presence of some valuable resource. For example, Chechnya had oil, and a lot of people were convinced that they needed only to turn on the oil spigot and everything would work out.

    I’m very sorry, but what you know about the USSR is not sufficient to debate these topics with me. Especially when you lead with a quote from Orwell of all people.

  • BarbaryFalcon

    Rus,

    Your constant defense of Communism, as well as the denial and downplaying of Communist crimes, brings to my mind the famous quote by George Orwell;

    “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

    Throughout the Soviet history and especially during Stalin’s reign, entire ethnic groups were branded as “hostile” and subjected to ethnic cleansing, persecution and slave labor in gulags. Now, while I don’t know (and nor do I care) what is Ruslan’s ethnicity, it’s obvious that his people didn’t have it as bad under Soviets as the say for example Cossacks, Poles,
    Volga Germans, Estonians, Latvians, Karelian Finns, Chechens, Ingushes and Crimean Tatars. No sympathy is implied on my part on the latter three though, of course.

    I myself have had met over the years numerous peoples of former Soviet Union, and spoken with them about what the life was like under Communism, and I have always noted the almost the same pattern happening every time. Those who were from the most industrious and prosperous parts of former USSR, like the ethnic Balts and Western Ukrainians, they detested having their homelands being forced into Soviet Union and they absolutely despised Joseph Stalin. On the other hand, those who were from the backward and impoverished Central Asian ‘stans, they viewed Communism in an extremely positive light, and highly spoke of Stalin as if he was an almost demigod.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Hello Expatriot- who argued that Stalin wasn’t responsible for any deaths? Not I. Apparently you completely misunderstand the argument.

    As for peaceful struggle- note that virtually no Communist party started off with armed insurgency. The CPUSA is a good example. Even with constant police brutality and lynchings in the South during the Great Depression, the CPUSA continued to use peaceful methods and rarely even took steps to defend its members. The workers of Russia had previously used peaceful demonstration to petition the Tsar- volleys of rifle fire is what they received in return.

    One last bit, Cambodia was not a socialist nation, unless you count the government that the Vietnamese helped install after defeating the Khmer Rouge, who were not Communists(as Ieng Sary clearly declared). And guess who provided deliberate, direct support to the Khmer Rouge guerrillas who attempted to bring down that regime and re-install themselves to power? HINT: A country whose flag has 13 stripes and 50 stars.

  • Expatriot

    I’m sorry, if you’re really going to argue that Stalin wasn’t responsible for any deaths, that executions of “political prisoners” and starving of Chinese, North Koreans, Cambodians, Cubans, etc. under Communist rule are just part of a “peaceful struggle” met with “bullets and persecution,” you completely misunderstand the failure of communist regimes.

  • jeff

    ruslan,

    i agree with much of this. the “bottom line” is that the U.S. has traditionally been the home of the double standard. when the U.S. lectures the rest of the world on freedom, it means freedom for the U.S. government, as well as the corporations it represents, and slavery for much of the world. The hypocrisy is crass.

    In the 19th century, British and French imperialists likewise boasted — in the same spirit of hypocrisy — of their efforts to improve life in their colonies, as in Kipling’s “The White Man’s Burden.” Imperialism and racism go hand in hand.

    All of this in so-called Christendom.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Jeff the bottom line is that the claim that “Communism killed 100 million” is simply false. On the other hand, if we use the methodology behind that claim and apply it to capitalism, the death toll is much, much higher. In fact many of history’s greatest crimes were due to specific conditions of capitalism. Much of the misery in the world today is also due to those specific conditions. Let us remember that the labor struggle and Communist movement began everywhere as a peaceful struggle in the political arena and factory floor. It was met always with bullets and persecution, virtually everywhere.

  • jeff

    rusian,

    you neglected to mention in your comment the oppression of the Roma by the Nazis after Hitler assumed public office in 1933. They didn’t rank as high on the Nazi list of enemies as the Jews and political opponents, but they did make the list. Like the Jews, they were despised as aliens, outsiders, etc. and herded off to the camps.

  • jeff

    lee,

    Disagreements over the actual death toll aside, you’re confusing the essence of communism with historical accidents, which is as senseless as blaming the genocide of American indigenous populations, the Atlantic slave trade, President Lincoln’s dictatorship during the Civil War, and the Jim Crow laws on capitalism. Nothing about modern industrial capitalism necessitated these developments, just as nothing about communism necessitated the atrocities to which you alluded.

  • jeff

    splc,

    kudos on this informative and valuable article (along with the one about the Occidental Report and Regnery Publishing), inasmuch as it provides material for a study of comparative racism and contemporary trans-national political trends.

  • http://www.jaytaber.com/ Jay Taber

    I was surprised to learn of the growing hostility and discrimination against indigenous Irish Travellers–once known as Tinkers–to the degree it has in many respects come to resemble the 1960s Civil Rights struggle in the US. Travellers, as they refer to themselves, are neither Roma (Gypsies) nor foreign in either origin or appearance or religion, and merely migrate throughout Ireland and Britain and sometimes Europe–picking up work here and there–but are distinctly Irish, although they speak an old dialect of the language that includes some ancient words from druid culture.

    Now semi-settled, the one thousand out of four thousand Traveller families in Ireland who still live on the road in trailers and carts, find their country less and less accomodating of their lifestyle despite intervention on their behalf by the Catholic church. (Travellers are devout Catholics, albeit more into the magical aspects like miracles than your average believer–something they share in common with Roma.) Violence, however, toward Travellers–settled or otherwise–is not uncommon, and parents have been known to remove their children enmasse from schools that admit Traveller children.

    At the Traveller cultural center in Dublin, some younger adults have taken it on themselves to become literate for the express purpose of advocating for Traveller’s civil rights, and a greater acceptance of and tolerance for their way of life. Lacking a printed history of their culture or origins, their library includes a lot about other nomadic ethnic and cultural groups who’ve come into conflict with settler culture, especially that of the American Indian, and Travellers are quick to point out that they both were initially oppressed by British colonizers trying to control their respective landscapes and everything that roamed therein.

    My attention most recently having been drawn to the issue of borders and migrants and xenophobia, I couldn’t help but think that there must be something to the notion of settled peoples universally resenting the freedom of wanderers, and persistently looking to nomads and other subcultures as scapegoats for everything that goes wrong in their lives. Perhaps it is a sign of the times, that under the malign neglect of market economies, people in general are simply growing less charitable, while at the same time worshipping the wild.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Actually Lee, 100 million people didn’t “die” under(I believe you wanted to write ‘because of’, which makes more sense) Communism in the past century. This ridiculous number is based primarily on faulty population projections, and numbers now known to be exaggerated sometimes by 8 to 10 times. 20th Centry socialism has saved far more lives than it actually claimed. It has even had an indirect effect on the plight of workers living in countries which never had a socialist revolution, and in this way, it has done more good than harm. On that note, keep in mind that capitalism, which has also done some good as well, has killed far more than Communism ever did, and the latter could not catch up even if they deliberately tried.

    Despite this, I could care less who calls it evil or who wants to fight against it. But people shouldn’t be surprised that if you praise fascists and Nazis, and treat Communism as the ultimate evil(re-writing history all the while), some people are going to embrace those ideologies and carry them over to their logical conclusions. This is precisely what is happening in Eastern Europe.

  • Sophia

    Thanks for showing us news coverage on racial issues in Europe. What strikes me is how ordinary the 4 defendants look, and how heartless their act was toward this Roma family. As European countries continue to face the problems that come with the aging of their populations, they would be wise to improve access to basic medical care, education, and job training to all the youths in their countries, regardless of race or ethnicity. Otherwise, the Roma children will continue to be on welfare row instead of the payroll when they grow up. It’s time for European leaders to come up with a long-term policy to invest in the future of the next generation, regardless of race,

  • Lee

    “all the while demonizing Communism as the most unholy evil, logically suggesting to many that the fascists were right.” – Ruslan

    100 million people died under communism in the past century. Are you actually suggesting that it is incorrect to call it an evil or something worth fighting against?

  • Fred Norman

    I know very little about the Roma. I suppose I’m a typical American in my ignorance. However, some of the stories I’ve heard and read about the Roma remind me of the racist and hateful and mistaken beliefs that so many Americans once had, and some still have, about African-Americans. This makes me think that the Roma “problem” should be studied more and understood better before reacting by criticizing and condemning and relegating the Roma to an almost non-human status. Indeed, the Roma “problem” may not be the Roma.

  • Carter

    I happen to agree with Ruslan that the precedent was set with “Voice of America” broadcasts and “Radio Free Europe” whitewashing and the elevation of former V-rocket murderers to star status. It was a fast & simple jump from stars to heroes to acceptable examples of humanity.
    It’s the standard Nazi agenda to find a scapegoat. We took plenty of Nazis into our fold so that the former Soviet Union couldn’t do the same. Now we reap what we sow. Allowing the festering of Fascism to lay uncleaned in Europe; we should expect it to emerge once again.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Neo-Nazi violence in Eastern Europe? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that for roughly 45 years the West beamed in endless propaganda lauding former Fascists as “freedom” fighters while white-washing their crimes, all the while demonizing Communism as the most unholy evil, logically suggesting to many that the fascists were right. When men like Pavelic, Bandera, Vlasov, and Szalasi are lauded, what should one expect to happen?