The Roma could have spoiled the
whole war show. Of course, they were not able to do so. The producer had
already finished his job, and the audience was bored. In any case, every
time the media were forced to mention the flight of the Roma, readers and
viewers were advised that the "Gypsies" had been "collaborators and accomplices
of the ethnic cleansing committed by the Serbs." And the pogroms against
them were of course unpleasant, but justified by an implicit right to revenge.
Italians are afraid of Gypsies. It is not
just fear of crime. Without trying to excuse anybody, most people would
probably agree that Albanian crime is far more dangerous and cruel than
Roma crime. No, fear of the Gypsies has other, far stranger foundations.
On the train from Verona to Bozen, I shared a compartment with a young
Italian mother, her child and a Serbian lady. Whatever the press may say
against the Serbs, the two women became friends immediately. Then
a group of Roma got on the train. The little girl was curious and wanted
to go out of the compartment. Her mother stopped her, explaining: "Look,
those are Gypsies, and Gypsies steal children."
Gypsies are always liars; and perhaps they
are even made differently from us: a hungry Gypsy in the cold is simply
living they way he was born to live. Albanians flee from "Serbian genocide";
the Roma, on the other hand, are merely opportunists taking advantage of
the good heart of the average Italian. The Roma are also wanderers; their
departure from Kosovo is no flight, it is simply part of their biological
cycle. The Yugoslav Roma, almost all of whom were born and raised in houses,
are in fact regularly labelled "nomads" by the Italian press. If you go
to the town of Lugo in Romagna, you will first see a statue of Andrea Costa,
the founder of the Italian Socialista Party, with a plaque saying "TO THE
APOSTLE OF THE OPPRESSED." And just under the statue, a notice says "NOMADS
ARE FORBIDDEN TO CAMP ANYWHERE IN THIS TOWNSHIP."
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