I have never read a more degrading, racist and offensive article in a student-run newspaper than Friday’s opinion article entitled “Real Gypsies Contrast with Disney Depiction,” Daily Nexus, April 23, 2010)  by Drea Tran. The Romani people, commonly referred to as “Gypsies,” are a minority ethnic group primarily found in Europe and I cannot believe that such an openly and blatant racist article was printed in the Nexus.

[media-credit id=20105 align=”alignleft” width=”153″]Racism[/media-credit]The Romani have been persecuted throughout history, and Amnesty International states that “The Roma community suffers massive discrimination throughout Europe. Denied their rights to housing, employment, healthcare and education, Roma are often victims of forced evictions, racist attacks and police ill-treatment.” The European Commission states that the treatment of Gypsies “has become one of the most pressing political, social and human rights issues facing Europe.” You published this article while just this month, Amnesty International demanded that “Europe must break cycle of discrimination facing Roma.”

Here are a few choice quotes from this article: “Seven months ago, I was entirely unaware of the ‘Gypsy Epidemic’ that plagues both France and the greater European Union” and “The European gypsies are in their own sad, toothless league” and “the thing with Gypsies is that it’s almost impossible to know if they’re lying or just trying to get your attention long enough to pilfer your wallet.”

An ethnic group of people is a plague upon a nation or a continent? This is inexcusable. This hateful speech filled with evil stereotypes of a whole ethnic group appeared before in the propaganda of the Nazi party who used these stereotypes to justify the genocide of the Roma people (among others) during the Holocaust. While exact numbers of how many Gypsies were murdered in the Holocaust are unknown, it’s definitely a lot.

How can printing an article with these statements be justified, even in the opinion section? If this article had been about Blacks, Mexicans or Jews with similar hateful slurs and stereotypes I doubt it would have been printed and, if it had, it would have led to a massive outrage from the UCSB community.

Instead of highlighting the fact that some members of the Gypsy community are guilty of petty crimes and stereotypically associating this fact with the whole population; it is important to look at the history of discrimination that has led to the epidemic of chronic poverty amongst the Romani people. Maybe a little research with an open mind and heart would lead you to the realization that the Roma have a rich and beautiful culture and have made many positive contributions to both France and Europe. Perhaps some volunteer work with an organization that assists or works with the Gypsies would be a good idea, then maybe you would see that your characterizations of these people are ill-founded.

The message that this article sends is that students should go study abroad so they can pick up and develop racist and ethnocentric view points. I expect better from my fellow Gauchos abroad and challenge all future study abroad students from UCSB to look beyond the dominant majority culture of their host nation to see the plight and struggles facing minority populations in these countries.