‘States rights’ comes to Europe

by John Quiggin on September 17, 2010

Looking at the Sarkozy government’s attempt at ethnic cleansing of the Roma, The Economist’s Charlemagne had the following observation about

the vociferous protest from the European Parliament. On September 9th it passed a strongly worded resolution denouncing discrimination against the Roma, and singled out the commission for its “late and limited response”. The row thus brings out the contradictions of European democracy: an elected national government finds that its resort to populism is confronted by the European Commission, an appointed body, and by the European Parliament, a distant chamber elected by a minority of voters.

It struck me that you could replace “national” with ” Southern state”, “European Commission” with “US Supreme Court” and “European Parliament” with “US Federal government”, and the analogy with Brown vs Board of Education would be just about perfect (except that it’s the Parliament driving the Commission and not vice versa). Then I noticed that Chris had proposed an almost identical substitution in relation to economic policy here.

This is the first time I can recall the European Parliament playing a key role in a conflict between the central institutions of the EU, such as the Commission and a member state. If the Parliament and Commission prevail, as they should, it seems to me that this will change the effective political structure of the EU, in the direction of a federal democracy. I’d be interested in the thoughts of those closer to the action.

{ 59 comments }

1

P O'Neill 09.17.10 at 11:25 pm

How many divisions does the European Commission have?

2

andthenyoufall 09.18.10 at 3:44 am

I’ll take “states that aren’t Southern” for 500, Alex.

3

Mrs Tilton 09.18.10 at 7:35 am

Yes, P, but in response, why is the Champs Élysées lined with trees?

4

Don Gomez 09.18.10 at 9:30 am

Integration by conflict about substantial matters, such as basic rights? It certainly could integrate the member states to a closer, even a political union. But will it happen with certainty as you might suggest? Consider the differences between the US in the 1950ies to the EU today. A tight union of member states, aka a federal state vs. a union which is so far only in economic terms something like a federation and in political terms much more a confederation, even after the Lisbon Treaty. Is the common political ground of the diverse member states that stable to bear an substantial political conflict about basic rights? Including those actions the federal government took to inforce Brown vs. Board of education? I am not sure about that.

5

Daragh McDowell 09.18.10 at 10:42 am

I’m not sure this is really a matter of moving the EU in the direction of a Federal Democracy more than it is of a supranational club reminding its members that a) there are rules to being in the club (such as do not use the agents of state coercion to target ethnic minorities) b) if you break the rules while in the club there will be consequences. If France truly decided to leave the EU it wouldn’t set off a European civil war (though the political-economic consequences would be pretty extreme) because the EU couldn’t/wouldn’t try to forcibly retain France within the Union.

As for the Economist – here’s a little thought experiment one can try when attempting to figure out what it’s take will be on an issue. ‘What would a centre-right investment banker think?’ – remember to tailor all your arguments to the prejudices of upper-middle class white males – even if you have access to empirical data that is widely available and would contradict these prejudices they must be ignored. Subscriptions might suffer as a result

6

bjk 09.18.10 at 2:30 pm

“in the direction of a federal democracy”

Federal maybe, but definitely not democratic.

7

AntiAlias 09.18.10 at 6:53 pm

If the Parliament and Commission prevail, as they should, it seems to me that this will change the effective political structure of the EU, in the direction of a federal democracy.

I wish I could join in such an optimistic hope. The EU being what it is, Reding is being slapped down and forced to apologise for stating the obvious in a less than exquisitely diplomatic manner. Almost all European PMs are basically expressing sympathy for Sarkozy and regretting Reding’s “uncareful words”.

Revealing enough, Sarkozy’s response was something along the lines of “if Mrs. Reding likes the Roma, Luxembourg can have them”. Hence, Mrs. Reding is not being acknowledged as a properly European authority – she’s only as good as the country backing her. Since it’s tiny Luxembourg, well, who’s that woman telling the Empereur what to do in His lands?

As incorrect as it is, this charade shows how much the EU is about preserving individual interests, and which little regard national authorities hold for European institutions. When European institutions aren’t even allowed to cry out agains ethnical cleansing without being mobbed by national primma donnas, I guess we are a long way from moving towards federalism.

8

Bloix 09.18.10 at 8:55 pm

I seem to remember that the French rejected the proposed Constitutional Treaty five years ago. France has been an independent nation for a millennium and has never agreed to become an administrative region of a larger state. Yet you’re arguing that France’s claim to independence is equivalent that of South Carolina. Not a particularly compelling argument. Neither is the implied argument that expulsion of non-nationals is the moral equivalent of Jim Crow.

9

Bloix 09.18.10 at 8:55 pm

I seem to remember that the French rejected the proposed Constitutional Treaty five years ago. France has been an independent nation for a millennium and has never agreed to become an administrative region of a larger state. Yet you’re arguing that France’s claim to independence is equivalent that of South Carolina. Not a particularly compelling argument. Neither is the implied argument that expulsion of non-nationals is the moral equivalent of Jim Crow.

10

h 09.18.10 at 9:13 pm

I think John’s analogy is perfect. The principal issue in the forming of the US was the distribution of power between the federal govt and the individual states. And there was considerable compromise involved in the formation of a federal system.

Two examples:

1. The 3/5 ths rule: Racist southern slaveholders wanted to count each slave as full person; that would give the southern states more representation in the house of representatives; it was the non-slaveholding northern states that wanted to count slaves as a non-person; the 3/5ths rule was a compromise.
2. The District of Colombia: No state was willing to have the national government situated in another state. Therefore a separate district — not part of any state — was established as the national capital.

To give a state complete autonomy is to give that state the power to adopt policies that the other states regard as stupid or evil. To give a state less than complete autonomy is to limit the “democratic authority” of that state, and especially to allow the federation of states to decide what laws are too stupid or evil to be adopted by any individual member of the federation.

This is the essential issue of states’ rights and the 9th amendment in the US. Over the years, states’ rights has been seen as “conservative issue” because it was asserted as a rationale to deviate from national policies of racial integration. But more recently liberals have asserted that states have the right to ignore or overturn the national (federal) defense of marriage act, and to permit same sex marriage within their states.

11

rs 09.18.10 at 10:49 pm

IIRC the slave states wanted slaves to count for the purpose of apportioning representation but not for apportioning taxation.
Thus the compromise.

12

Bloix 09.19.10 at 12:31 am

In the American context, states’ rights has never been anything other than a stalking horse for racism. The right has never refrained fromusing federal power to infringe on states’ rights when a right-wing cause is at stake (e.g., DOMA, tort reform, environmental regulation). By invoking states’ rights, John is arguing that the French position is illegitimate when the European context is entirely different.

13

piglet 09.19.10 at 1:30 am

I’m not “closer to the action” (any more) but what comes to mind is what happened after Austria formed a right-wing government including an extremist party. The EU at the time expressed concern and appointed a kind of watchdog. Nothing ever came of it but it was a sign that the EU for once tried to uphold “values” as opposed to just being an integrated economy. The EU has always been mainly about a certain economic, “free-market” regime and disputes with member states have almost always been about enforcing and policing that regime. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has long had modest powers to enforce human rights standards in Council of Europe member countries and some progress has resulted from its jurisdiction but it is actually not connected to the EU.

Nowadays EU integration goes much farther than just the economic sphere and there are bound to be increasing conflicts as a result. There is however no obvious reason to expect the EU to be a progressive force vis-a-vis the member states. In the case of the Roma in France, at stake is the principle of nondiscrimination of EU citizens which is a core issue of the EU. By that I mean that a country shouldn’t discriminate against citizens from another country as long as it is a EU member. The analogy would be California discriminating against Okies, not Mississippi discriminating against black Mississippians.

14

John Quiggin 09.19.10 at 2:01 am

If we want to get the analogy precise, AFAICT, it would be California announcing discrimination against Missippippians but actually applying it specifically to black Mississippians.

15

ejh 09.19.10 at 6:54 am

It’s a useful analogy in some respects but there’s quite a few problems with it. One is that the democratic legitimacy of the EU is a great deal less, both in practice and in the minds of the electorate, than that of the government of France. In the case of US states that tried to prevent their black citizens from voting, this was plainly not the case.

16

Pete 09.19.10 at 8:19 am

Bloix: “France has been an independent nation for a millennium”

I think this depends on exactly what you mean by “France”; conversely you could say it’s only been in its modern form since either the start of the 5eme republique or only independant since the end of the second world war.

In re EU authority, the British government has been having the argument about whether the EU can prevent it from enacting policy it likes since at least the early 1980s.

17

Jack Strocchi 09.19.10 at 9:44 am

Pr Q said:

If the Parliament and Commission prevail, as they should, it seems to me that this will change the effective political structure of the EU, in the direction of a federal democracy.

Liberal democracy is always in latent tension between minority rights and majority rule. The Roma question, when it occasionally crops up, makes that tension manifest.

A federal democracy by definition gives more power to subsidiary jurisdictions. In this case it is the subsidiary jurisdictions like France & Italy that are the source of the problem.

Ideally the Roma would have a land of their own where they could ply their traditional trades in complete freedom. But the Roma don’t seem to have much of a national feeling.

I don’t see the current EU Parliament being a likely source of salvation. The swing to the Right at the recent EU elections is unlikely to make that forum sympathetic to Roma claims. The EU Parliament is currently split between the Left and the Centre-Right, the latter pushing its own resolution:

a competing resolution tabled by the centre-right European People’s Party group and members of the European Conservatives and Reformists group stresses that Roma are subject to rights and obligations.

A mutual obligation “rights & duties” approach is the best way to go. A civic contract for the Roma would require Left-liberals and Right-“corporals” to give up ideological ground to actually fix the problem.

Now that would be a sight for sore eyes.

18

Belle Waring 09.19.10 at 2:12 pm

Surely the issue of not having a place to put the country looms larger in an account of the difficulties of forming a Roma state than insufficiently nationalistic attitudes among the Roma. Or wait–the Roma should get the Jewish Autonomous Oblast now, since they’re not using it!

19

Bloix 09.19.10 at 2:58 pm

“Ideally the Roma would have a land of their own where they could ply their traditional trades in complete freedom. But the Roma don’t seem to have much of a national feeling.”

Ideal for whom? The Roma don’t want a land of their own. What would they do with it? Become farmers and shopkeepers? The problem is that the modern nation-state, which is fundamentally about clear geographic demarcations of territory and governmental control of the populations within that territory, is at odds with traditional nomadic forms of life. The extraordinary thing is that of all European nomadic groups, only the Roma have had a sufficiently strong culture to resist assimilation and settlement. A culture that powerful and distinct is one that is almost certainly going to have elements that are repulsive to the dominant culture.

Belle Waring makes an implicit comparison of the Roma and the Jews, which is not an unreasonable one. Both Jews and Roma developed very powerful cultures that allowed them to replicate themselves and resist assimilation over generations, and both cultures have elements that are disturbing and unpleasant to the dominant culture, however politically incorrect it may be to say so.

20

Henri Vieuxtemps 09.19.10 at 3:45 pm

The extraordinary thing is that of all European nomadic groups, only the Roma have had a sufficiently strong culture to resist assimilation and settlement.

Funny you say that. I haven’t followed this controversy; but just now, because of this thread, I was reading this (couple of months old) NYT piece, and I saw this:

Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said Thursday on RTL radio that over the next three months he would use decrees to dismantle about 300 illegal camps, of which 200 belong to Roma. These camps are the source of “illicit trafficking, children exploited for begging, prostitution or delinquency,” he said.

Amnesty International estimates that there are 400,000 itinerants or travelers with French nationality, and 20,000 Roma, in the country.

21

piglet 09.19.10 at 4:13 pm

“If we want to get the analogy precise, AFAICT, it would be California announcing discrimination against Missippippians but actually applying it specifically to black Mississippians.”

None of these analogies is perfect of course but I was referring to the Okies that during the depression moved to California, put up camps and were loathed by the Californians mainly because they were poor and kind of nomadic. I don’t presume that tourists from Oklahoma would have been treated the same way.

22

y81 09.19.10 at 4:32 pm

I too would be interested in the thoughts of those closer to the action, but I suspect that the superficial analogy to the U.S. in the desegregation era will not be a part of any useful analysis. That analogy may give one side of the debate some satisfying frissons of moral superiority, but, as history, it probably ranks with the analogy between Charles I and George III, which is mostly not very useful in understanding the American Revolution, though some partisans at the time relished it.

23

jack 09.19.10 at 5:56 pm

Serial troll and sockpuppet deleted

24

bread & roses 09.19.10 at 7:04 pm

“If we want to get the analogy precise, AFAICT, it would be California announcing discrimination against Missippippians but actually applying it specifically to black Mississippians.”

Except the Roma don’t have a home state to go to bat for them. As far as I know the Roma are discriminated against in every European state. Actually in every place in the world that they appear. And I think Henri has a point, too; it is nomadic groups that are so discriminated against, whether they are Roma or not- the Irish travelers were in the news being kicked out of their camps a month or two ago, and they are quite ethnically Irish. The state has a problem with people who move around- every state, every people. (well, maybe not Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan, whose majority ethnicities are traditionally nomadic.)

I am quite surprised, and heartened, the that the EU is sticking up for the Roma in this case.

25

Pete 09.19.10 at 8:05 pm

The State has no problem with people that move around – it has nothing against commercial travellers or tourists, even tourists with camper vans – it’s just communities that move around and hold themselves apart from the settled community that trigger conflict. And the problem is the apartness, not the mobility. QV Northern Ireland and its “peace line”.

26

Anna McCarthy 09.20.10 at 1:55 am

I find this analogy specious for a number of reasons. For one thing, I really do not think that it is possible to compare the U.S. South circa 1953 with a federation of sovereign nations in Europe today. Moreover, the Brown decision–it may be difficult to grasp this now–produced a fundamental change in the fabric of everyday life in the United States at the time it was issued. This is not the case with Roma policy in France today. And Brown sparked a campaign of massive resistance among White segregationists, a campaign which included horrific acts of racist violence. The deportation of Roma from France is outrageous, and so is the history of violence that the Roma people have suffered throughout modern European history, and which they continue to suffer. But it has little to do with the legislative and activist assault on Jim Crow in the United States, nor with the eruptions of violence that accompanied that system’s demise. Drawing a spurious analogy between France in 2010 and the America of Brown is a way of distracting attention from more immediate political contexts surrounding Roma oppression. The specific history of European xenophobia, for instance.

Although I am expressing my frustration with this post’s content and its expression, I do not mean to single out its author. These kinds of analogies constitute serious discussion in many sectors of the blogosphere, and it is hard to avoid conventional rhetorical memes in Internet writing. They are something of a set piece. What’s more, regardless of its verbal style, this post should be commended for its effort to bring European and American politics into conceptual alignment with each other. But I do want to hesitate and talk about the rhetorical strategy of analogical thinking in blogospherical conversations for a moment. When I find myself asked to compare the juridical context leading to Brown with contemporary Roma politics, Internet debate seems like utter casuistry. I remember unsubscribing from a film studies listserv in 1998, after realizing that it had devoted an insane amount of thread space to the question of whether Saving Private Ryan was or was not a road movie. I wonder whether I will have the option of unsubscribing to specious political arguments in the future. Among the forms of “cognitive surplus” that clog up my intake channel, they are the ones that seem like they are going to do the most damage, down the pipe.

27

Gene O'Grady 09.20.10 at 2:30 am

(Note: if relevant, my wife’s father’s family were dust bowl refugees to California from Oklahoma.)

In point of fact the California legislature did pass a law making it illegal for people from Oklahoma to enter the state, as well as (I believe) for those lucky enough to be here to help or encourage them.

28

GP 09.20.10 at 5:11 am

“Federalism is Not for Amateurs”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dX3ePAOUK7U&feature=related

The latest release from Eurosceptic Pictures.

Starring:
Michael Caine………..The European Commission

Ms. Tremble………….Sarkozy

Ruprecht………………The Roma

Oklahoma……………..France

29

ajay 09.20.10 at 8:28 am

And the problem is the apartness, not the mobility. QV Northern Ireland and its “peace line”.

The peace line, IIRC, was put up after the fact – it’s a big concrete wall intended to stop Protestants throwing things at Catholics and vice versa.

I would actually disagree that the problem is the apartness. The British government has no problem with people from Lincolnshire staying in Lincolnshire, or people of Pakistani descent living in Southall. It might (partly understandably) have a problem with there being a large number of people in Britain who don’t have a fixed address, as this makes it tricky for them to be taxed and/or arrested as required.

30

ejh 09.20.10 at 8:55 am

Southall rather more Indian than Pakistani, no?

31

Henri Vieuxtemps 09.20.10 at 9:09 am

What ajay 27 said. They can’t install a police station, post office, departments of sanitation and social services, etc in those camps, that’s the problem.

32

Martin Bento 09.20.10 at 10:13 am

And yet global warming is likely to increase nomadism, no? Both because people will forced into it – seeing their dwellings, communities, and climates destroyed by weather changes and natural disasters – and because it will make less sense to invest heavily in a particular abode in a particular place when catastrophe may always strike.

33

Brett Bellmore 09.20.10 at 10:20 am

I’m just boggling at the idea of an increase in the power of the EU central government representing an increase in federal democracy. Federal SOMETHING, maybe, but democracy? Hardly….

34

ajay 09.20.10 at 10:48 am

ejh is of course entirely right. I originally had “Bradford” but changed it, heaven knows why.

30: refugees aren’t the same as nomads. And modern nomads couldn’t function without a settled society to provide them with (eg) roads and manufactured goods. They’re not hunter-gatherers.

35

dsquared 09.20.10 at 11:10 am

The British government has no problem with people from Lincolnshire staying in Lincolnshire, or people of Pakistani descent living in Southall. It might (partly understandably) have a problem with there being a large number of people in Britain who don’t have a fixed address, as this makes it tricky for them to be taxed and/or arrested as required

AFAIAA, the government doesn’t have much problem with Gypsy communities and has passed various Acts dealing with the problems of taxation, education etc. The trouble comes in at the local level, where local authorities don’t fulfill their obligations under those Acts, because they know that doing so would involve creating camps and facilities (or giving planning permission for same) in locations near to voters who don’t want Gypsies living next to them.

As an inhabitant of an inner city, I can of course take the completely objective view of this; it’s quite extraordinary how clear and well-defined the legal and moral issues are with respect to the human right of gypsies to have accomodation provided for them near other people’s houses.

36

Pete 09.20.10 at 12:12 pm

Bloix @19:

“The extraordinary thing is that of all European nomadic groups, only the Roma have had a sufficiently strong culture to resist assimilation and settlement. A culture that powerful and distinct is one that is almost certainly going to have elements that are repulsive to the dominant culture”

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that social exclusion has historically been necessary to keeping Roma culture seperate. People who go somewhere and get on with the neighbours end up staying, intermarrying, and becoming indistinguishable. The Roma that are not assimilated are decendants of those that have managed to get a hostile reception everywhere they went.

37

hix 09.20.10 at 12:57 pm

Just the usual British jingoism. First, the EU parliament can make as many resolutions as it wants, they dont change anything, which is in my opinon sad, but nevertheless a reality that stands in stark contrast with the virtual one created by the British media. Second, the election process is more democratic than the one in British national election and third, Britains own minister are appointed indirect just like the commission and yield much more practical power than the commission will ever have over those that do appoint them.

So no “staate rights” didnt come to Europe, rather the economist is playing xenohpbic bottons by pretending that is the case.

38

PHB 09.20.10 at 1:09 pm

France has not been a nation state for a millenia for the simple reason that the idea is no more than four or five centuries old.

A thousand years ago, france was in the middle of their own Norman invasion. The vikings who had butchered their way down from the north of europe were busy invading the south. And were still busy doing so for another century.

The classic feudal hierarchy took a long time to emerge. Kings did not have unuestioned authority until rather later. And they got that authority as the junior nobles realized the cost of constant warfare between them.

Sarkosy is just an opportunist who got promoted above his ability and is trying to rescue a poor poll position.

39

Bloix 09.20.10 at 2:00 pm

Pete, that’s true – but the question is, why do the Roma get a hostile reception? They’re at least nominally Christian – many are Catholics, and others are Orthodox or Protestant – so there shouldn’t be religious animosity toward them (they didn’t kill Our Lord and they owe no loyalty to the eastern hordes). Except in dress, they don’t look particularly different from non-Roma eastern and southern Europeans. So what prevented them from assimilating, either as individuals or collectively? It seems to me that the answer lies in their culture, which has many distinctive elements that bind young people tightly to the community and prevent them from choosing to disappear into the dominant majority (itinerancy and child marriage are perhaps the most important of these elements). The fact that their culture has characteristics that are distasteful to the majorities around them reinforces their isolation and fosters their existence as a distinct minority.

40

ajay 09.20.10 at 2:24 pm

37: surely the answer to the question “what prevented them from assimilating” is simply “they keep moving around”, no? It’s pretty difficult to become part of a society if you move to a different one every three weeks. (Which I think is what 34 is going on about). There just aren’t nomadic groups in Europe today that have been successfully assimilated into settled culture, because if they’d been assimilated they wouldn’t be nomads any more, and if you’re a nomad you can’t really assimilated.

41

MattF 09.20.10 at 2:35 pm

If you insist on analogies with American history, I’d go back to the failure of federation-via-treaty with the Articles of Confederation and the later debate over federal supremacy in the Constitution. One really must make that choice.

42

supeinjin 09.20.10 at 4:05 pm

In Spain the local roma community (gitanos) is neither nomadic nor completely assimilated, though they do not suffer the rejection that eastern european roma suffer from both local roma and not-roma. During the eighties there were social housing policies that moved away most (if not all) of the local gypsy population into sedentary live but they still keep most of their culture: extended family, endogamy…
By the way, is there a reason why people use roma instead of gypsy? In Spain roma is only used by the (quite few and actually completely self-serving) politically active gitanos.

43

Henri Vieuxtemps 09.20.10 at 4:19 pm

I got the impression (from classical literature) that the Gypsies in Eastern Europe were heavily romanticized, in Fenimore Cooper’s Mohicans sort of way.

Leave us, proud man, we are a wild people; we have no laws, we torture not, neither do we punish; we have no use for blood or groans; we will not live with a man of blood. Thou wast not made for the wild life. For thyself alone thou claimest license; we are shy and good-natured; thou art evil-minded and presumptuous. Farewell, and peace be with thee!

44

Henri Vieuxtemps 09.20.10 at 4:23 pm

…and seen by the general population as traveling entertainers, without any hostility.

45

ejh 09.20.10 at 5:20 pm

surely the answer to the question “what prevented them from assimilating” is simply “they keep moving around”, no

Not necessarily: it doesn’t seem to be the case in Spain, for instance.

46

scathew 09.20.10 at 6:03 pm

Generally speaking in the US, states rights are a canard used as a convenient support to be jettisoned as soon as expedient. For example, medical marijuana has been been threatened at a federal level by both parties with curiously no mention of states rights from those against it. Euthanasia and mileage standards have been similarly contested (though mostly by the right).

(some) Southerners like to re-frame the Civil War as a “states rights” issue, because it minimizes the stains of slavery, but much of the Southern states right fight has been about just that – racism.

Forgetting states rights, I have no issue with countries ejecting illegal immigrants. It’s just a curious coincidence that the people who become most focused on these issues also tend to be the ones that send out the jokes about Obama being a head hunter or other race-centered subjects. They’re also the ones so outraged by things like affirmative action.

It’s a question of priority. Sure, at some level it doesn’t seem fair that a black would be treated better than a white because of a policy/law or say that immigrants get free schooling on my dime, but really it has so inconsequential of an effect on me as to not be worthy of worrying about “redress” (moreover there are good arguments to the contrary).

And yet for others it is sooooooooo important even if it has the same negligible effect on them.

Thus I think the focus says it all.

47

bread & roses 09.20.10 at 6:10 pm

Pete -
The State has no problem with people that move around – it has nothing against commercial travellers or tourists, even tourists with camper vans – it’s just communities that move around and hold themselves apart from the settled community that trigger conflict. And the problem is the apartness, not the mobility. QV Northern Ireland and its “peace line”.

I suppose that’s what I meant. I took the line from “Seeing like a State” by James Scott, which develops the idea quite fully, and I thought it was quite sound. In the book also “people who move around” was more about people who are difficult to count and keep track of. I won’t try to reproduce, and therefore butcher, the argument or evidence here. It’s a terrific book and worth the read.

48

CaptainMongles 09.20.10 at 6:42 pm

It’s not just the moving around or the apartness, it’s also the criminality.

49

Jeff R. 09.20.10 at 7:30 pm

Really? Did it survive constitutional challenge?

(I’ve always thought that the right, listed in the Articles of Confederation but left out of the corresponding section of the Constitution, of ‘free ingress and regress’, which is what this would violate, was the most clear possible case for something on which one could actually hang a successful 10th Amendment challenge…)

50

Jeff R. 09.20.10 at 7:31 pm

(The above in reference to @26, the anti-Okie CA law.)

51

Oliver 09.20.10 at 7:45 pm

The EU commission made some tactical mistake. Firstly the EU created a lot of problems in form of the Euro, which has cost a lot to stabilize. Secondly the EU, because it has but a fraction of the required funds and is not allowed to borrow, was helpless against the crisis of the Euro and the recession. Thirdly they made the grave mistake of demanding more money at a time when all member states are forced into austerity measures. Thereby they have made sure all 4 big members need to resist any increase of the commission’s power now to fend of any attempt to enlarge the common budget, which would be political poison for the big4’s governments. (Consider how more money for the EU would be seen in Britain with the upcoming budget cuts)

52

roac 09.20.10 at 7:46 pm

The law did not target people from Oklahoma specifically; it prohibited bringing in an non-resident “indigent.” The Supreme Court struck it down very quickly. The Commerce Clause sufficed for the purpose.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwards_v._California

53

roy belmont 09.20.10 at 8:14 pm

Pete #35: “The Roma that are not assimilated are decendants of those that have managed to get a hostile reception everywhere they went.”
It may have something to do with their origins as traveling show people as well. The disjunct between performer and audience in that ancient dynamic. At least my understanding of their roots involves South Asian theatrical troupes on what became a never-ending tour of the hinterlands; in this case, Europe etc.
Also there would appear to be a strong vein of traditional paranormality amongst the Roma, both tangentially espoused and obliquely observed.
Nobody likes that stuff, hardly.
Not to mention fortune-telling. Not to mention a non-materialist regard for private property. Not to mention an unshakable sense of not just otherness but intrinsic, superior otherness.
Unless you’re going to outcompete the host peoples at their own economic games – in which case of course there would be an even more vicious intolerance and resentment – you’ll end up at the bottom of things.
Then people won’t like you, for being at the bottom, and singing and dancing in spite of your lowly state.

54

ejh 09.20.10 at 8:39 pm

Re: 46, is it OK on CT to associate criminality with ethnicity?

55

Toni 09.21.10 at 11:04 am

54: I suppose so. And to associate sexual crimes and domestic violence with gender (as in discussing the problem as if committed mostly by men against women). How do you feel about it?

56

BlaiseP 09.21.10 at 5:39 pm

I’ve had some extensive contact with Romany in the USA and Germany. They tell me the prejudice they encounter is a matter of Settled People / gadjo versus Nomadic People, and it’s been ongoing for centuries. They have several examples, starting with the Book of Genesis, a book written from the perspective of good shepherds pitted against the wicked peoples of the city.

They also note the British forcibly settled the Bedouin tribes into what would become many of the towns in Israel, Jordan and the West Bank. Nomadic peoples are under pressure everywhere. Tuareg/Tamashek, another nomadic people I’ve known since childhood are coming out of the desert into the cities of the Sahel. The world doesn’t have a place for nomads: the bad example of the USA resettlement of the plains nomads is another case in point.

57

piglet 09.21.10 at 5:57 pm

“The law did not target people from Oklahoma specifically; it prohibited bringing in an non-resident “indigent.”

In a nutshell, the Roma in France are, or are perceived as, “nonresident indigent” who are also a visible and cultural minority.

58

Norwegian Guy 09.21.10 at 8:47 pm

I think one of the problems for the Roma, and other nomadic peoples in Europe, must be that while they could perhaps fill an economic niche (e.g kettle makers, travelling craftsmen) in mostly pre-industrial societies, there simply isn’t much of a useful niche that could be filled by nomads these days.

59

Henri Vieuxtemps 09.21.10 at 8:58 pm

Why, what about drugs and prostitution, as alleged by Monsieur Hortefeux, the Interior Minister?

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