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AMAZINGLY some weeks after the scandal about his disgusting so-called joke about the Roma people being murdered as a positive result of the Nazi Holocaust comedian Jimmy Carr has suffered no punishment and little effect on his career.
Slithering to his defence many undercover internet racists, fascists and overt nazis have come out from under their stones. One of them, in Carr’s defence, has been motoring and generally reactionary journalist and TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson.
Clarkson says the attacks on Carr are themselves just a sick joke. Of course Clarkson has often been taken to task for often using the racist anti-Romany slur “pikey” himself.
What Carr said in his Netflix special was that people “never mention the thousands of Gypsies that were killed by the Nazis” in the Holocaust, because “no-one ever wants to talk about the positives.”
That should have got him locked up, but no, he still seems to be on our TV screens every moment.
Many thousands signed an online petition started by charity The Traveller Movement urging Netflix to remove the joke from His Dark Material programme, describing it as “nothing short of a celebration of genocide.”
Even Prime Minister Boris Johnson and many other MPs from all over the political spectrum have demanded action against Carr.
The fact that he make jokes about thousands of Gypsies, Roma, and Traveller people being killed in the Holocaust — an event Roma people call Porajmos, meaning “the devouring” — is appalling, but it is just part of the most acceptable of all racisms – hatred of all kinds of travelling people.
Historians estimate that between 200,000 and 500,000 people, that is a quarter to half the entire Romani and Sinti population of Europe were victims of genocide at the hands of the Nazis. It is a crime of almost unimaginable proportions.
Even today, affected traveller communities both in Britain and all across Europe still struggle to come to terms with that scale of grief, trauma and loss. The last thing they need are Holocaust jokes.
I have written before about never understanding why among some of my friends and acquaintances who would never utter a racist opinion about the Irish, East Europeans, Afro-Caribbeans, Indians and Pakistanis or any other ethnic group are happy to make public their disapproval of Gypsies and other groups who choose a travelling lifestyle.
They will group all travellers together as thieves, roadside litter louts and anti-social scroungers. People who would rightly choke on the words nigger or paki will happily use racist terms like pikey, gyppo, diddicoy or tinker to describe members of the various itinerate groups.
The people originally called Gypsies were once believed to have come from Egypt – hence the name – but later research has then originating from many regions of what is today India and Pakistan.
These well travelled folk have a rich and living language of their own. Many of their most important words have been borrowed from Sanskrit.
When many people think even the description Gypsy is racist what should we call these groups of those who choose the travelling lifestyle?
Less than 10 years ago the BBC banned comedy team Ben Miller and Alexander Armstrong from using the word Gypsy in a script. Gill Brown, of the London Gypsy and Traveller Unit summed up the dilemma at the time: “Romany Gypsies are an ethnic group so it depends on the way you are using the name. If you use the word Gypsy in the correct context it is not racist. However, it can still be used as a slur and that is racist. The word has been used in a very racist and discriminatory way for many years.”
So what are the descriptive titles we should use? One important basic principle is the difference between the terms Romany and Roma. The two words are not interchangeable.
Romany – Romany Gypsy – is the description that Gypsy people in England and Wales apply to themselves. This term is not used to describe more recent incomers to Britain from central and eastern Europe who are more generally described as Roma. Romany Gypsies are recognised as an ethnic minority group in both the Race Relations Act and The Equalities Act.
Roma is a word used as a catch-all term for European Gypsies. It is acceptable usage in Britain although across Europe you will find several distinct groups of such people including Manouche, Sinti, and Jeniche as well as Roma.
During the past half a century increasing numbers of Roma people, particularly from eastern Europe, have migrated to Britain. Indeed in some locations there are now more European Roma people than there are Romany Gypsies and Irish Travellers.
Another recent complication is the word Romanian. It simply describes people who come from Romania and has no connection to Roma or Romany roots at all.
Scottish Gypsy Travellers share much in common with other travelling groups and have recently been recognised as a separate ethnic group in Scotland.
While having much in common in lifestyle and shared history with Romany Gypsy and Scottish Gypsy Traveller people Irish Travellers have different ethnic origins and do not come originally from India.
They have been a distinct ethnic group within Irish society for centuries existing long before the Potato Famine but growing during those tragic events. Irish Travellers are recognised as a distinct group in British law. Their name for themselves is Pavee.
New Travellers is a name used to describe people who have adopted a travelling lifestyle but who are not ethnically defined either as Gypsies, Scottish Gypsy Travellers or Irish Travellers. A few of these started travelling at the end of the second world war. Many more are rooted in the growth of festivals since the 1960s. They are often known a New Age Travellers.
Now we have sorted that out let’s get back to those people who think racial abuse is OK for Gypsies.
These people spout that Gypsies really do commit crimes and anti-social acts. Yes I know some of them do. The same is, of course, true of Tory members of the House of Lords, like Jeffrey Archer; Roman Catholic priests; left-handed golfers; and indeed any other group of people.
The key thing is not to decide because for instance, one particular Tory lord commits perjury all Tory lords are equally guilty.
Even worse is the convoluted argument that they put forward that real traditional Romany Gypsies are in some way the salt of the earth and the folk they save their racist abuse for are less pure, lower breeds of travellers.
It’s all racism and like all forms of racism it is all based on ignorance and stupidity. That was true of Hitler and his Nazis who sent so many travelling people, gay people and of course Jews to the gas chambers.
This is the same ignorance and stupidity that led to Carr making his disgusting and obscene so-called joke and the same ignorance and stupidity that made some of his audience laugh and even applaud.
That level of ignorance and stupidity needs to be punished and that could best be started by telling Jimmy Carr his career as a comedian is over.
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