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Stano Daniel: Fico's the "gypsy", I am a Rom

3.2.2017 9:12
Stano Daniel on ROMEA's
Stano Daniel on ROMEA's "10 Minute" (Desetiminutovka) interview program. (PHOTO: ROMEA TV)

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico spoke about Romani people as "Gypsies" during a debate Sunday broadcast by the TA3 news station. He made his remarks in connection with the fact that businesses in Slovakia are having a problem finding employees.

"Robert Fico desperately needs his party to succeed in the regional elections and he will actually do anything he can in pursuit of that," comments Stano Daniel, who works on Romani children's education. News server Romea.cz publishes his entire response here in full translation.

Stano Daniel on Robert Fico

The Prime Minister has again decided to flex his muscles. He is no longer saying the word "Roma", but talking about "gypsies"

Actually it is not yet clear if he means "gypsies" or "Gypsies", because there is (allegedly) still a bit of a difference between those terms. At this moment all we can say with certainty is Robert Fico desperately needs his party to succeed in the regional elections and he will actually do anything he can in pursuit of that.

When the Prime Minister spoke about "gypsies" - let's presume he meant "gypsy" with a small "g" - he wasn't drunk. He began using this vocabulary publicly during a media appearance.

We don't have to discuss whether he is a Fascist either, because that is already clear. Robert Fico is a populist of the rankest sort.

If he believed it would win him votes, he would put a Romani candidate on his party's list. When he is advised to go macho and talk about "gypsies", he'll do that too.

The most frequent criticism one hears when one objects to the use of the term "gypsy" is that it is considered a "literary" word in Slovak. So are epithets such as "fags", "kikes", or "niggers", but that does not mean we will begin using them customarily.

Simply put, these are terms of abuse, and it is absolutely irrelevant whether your friend who says he is a Rom prefers the appellation "gypsy". The word "gypsy" does not exist in the Romanes language - in that language, one says "Me som Rom" - "I am a Rom".

What is bizarre is that even in places where the Romanes dialect frequently differs from one village to the next, that sentence - "Me som Rom" - is all but invariable. If we look beyond our own borders, it is naturally unimaginable that, for example, the German Social Democrats would begin using the term "Zigeuner" instead of "Rom".

Slovakia is not Germany, and Smer-SD are not the Social Democrats. According to the Smer-SD party chair and PM, Romani people alone are responsible for unemployment, and the migration crisis is being organized by nonprofits who are living beyond their means.

Nonprofit organizations, frequently led by Romani men and women, are the only hope for many Roma in Slovakia. Through self-help they are building apartment units, community centers, contracting social workers in the field, delivering health education, and providing scholarships for Romani secondary school and university students - all projects that have begun as NGO activities and that function, in some cases, to this day.

In other words, it is only thanks to nonprofit organizations that anybody can still live in the Romani settlements, even if rather miserably. The worst thing about the Slovak Prime Minister's words, though, is the fact that he said them two days before International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The Holocaust also began with populism, with politicians pointing the finger at "the others". Back then, too, they said that the evil "gypsies" were not working and that we should round up all the "anti-socials".

Stano Daniel, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Cigáni, Politika, Robert Fico, Roma



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