by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
The British designer Vivienne Westwood has has come under fire and caused lots of controversy by using Roma Gypsies as catwalk models, complete with gold teeth and enormous medallions.
A member of the Milan council criticised the show, saying that she has a "romantic" image of the Roma that "no longer corresponds to reality".
The truth must be said that this “romantic” image never corresponded to reality, whether now or centuries ago. There never was anything romantic in being hounded from village to village and town to town just for being Gypsy.
The models, dressed as "rough, stylish and hardened" Roma, were part of Ms Westwood's show's theme of "tolerance".
Here Ms Westwood must have had a rather bad dream. One cannot but condemn her stupidity in this stunt staging such an event in a misguided attempt to better the image of the Roma in Italy.
The ones that also must be condemned, under Romani Rules, are those Roma that paraded about the catwalk in boxer shorts, that is to say, in underwear, in a way that goes against all true Romanipen.
Council member Tiziano Maiolo said "I think the designer has a romantic notion about Gypsies that is one hundred years out of date.
"If she wants, I will take her on a tour of the nomad camps.
"These people do not want to work, they live by thieving and they have no respect for the law.
"I worked in the gypsy camps around Milan and believe there is no chance for integration while the men play cards and the women and children steal and beg.
It is sad to say that this person is, unfortunately, correct in what he says. The E. European Roma are exactly like that, regardless where they are – whether in Romania or Bulgaria, or such, or in the West. The men sit and drink and play cards while the women and children are out begging or stealing or scavenging.
I have seen this many times myself in regards to the (Eastern European) Roma. All the men do is play cards and drink and smoke while the women and children are sent to beg and to steal and/or scavenge on the rubbish tips.
The behavior of those Roma men, those Rom, that allowed themselves to be used by the designer Vivienne Westwood and were parading about in the kind of attire that they were wearing, shows also, if any more proof would be needed, the difference between the Sinti and others of that group, and the Roma. No one of the Sinti Nations would dare to parade about, in public and in front of women, as those Roma men have done. The picture, I think, speaks for itself.
Over the last couple of weeks Italians have launched a series of xenophobic attacks against immigrants in recent months, who they blame for much of the crime in the country, and a class of Naples primary school children shocked Europe recently by submitting homework backing the burning of gypsy camps.
One child wrote that "the gypsies steal children to transplant their organs," while another stated that "We are not racist, but if they want to stay they have to stop stealing" and yet others entirely agreed with them having had their camps burned down and being driven out of the country. Some primary school children even stated that it did not matter if they would be killed as they are only “parasites”.
If we hear this, yet again, from children, we must get very concerned indeed as to what is going on in Italy, and, for that matter, elsewhere in the European Union.
Considering that no one as much as is willing to lift a finger against the goings on in Italy we, as Romani-Gypsy, can but wonder as to what is being put together there. This all reminds me of Hitler's Germany but then again, we must not forget that Fascism was born in Italy.
Can you not all see the writing on the wall. I have been able to see it for a long time already. The EU is not the next best thing to sliced bread to the Rom; the opposite is the truth rather, it is a danger to us.
Where are the EU based Roma(ni) organizations, such as the ERTF? Their silence, once again, speaks volumes and is rather deafening.
© M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008