Stano Daniel: Fico's the "gypsy", I am a Rom
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".
- Slovak Prime Minister refers to Romani people as "Gypsies" during media appearances
- Slovakia: More than 50 children from socially deprived families institutionalized since year began
- Slovakia: Entrepreneur organizes food distribution to the needy
- Slovakia: MP for fascist party criticizes recipients of state honors because of their origins and work
- Romania: 100 Roma demonstrate in Bucharest in front of Russian Embassy with mockup of the tank that Romani Ukrainians captured from the occupiers
- Czech capital's "tent city" receives first Romani refugees from Ukraine
- Czech university distances itself from e-mail alleging increased security needed for dorm because of refugees from Ukraine
- Czech Interior Minister wants stricter checks on the passports held by refugees and changes to the aid offered them
- Volunteer aiding refugees from Ukraine in Czech Republic: Institutionalized racism definitively condemns Romani people to a hopeless fate
- Czech detention facility housing 130+ refugees from Ukraine, half of them are Romani
- Prague asks the Czech state for aid with accommodation of groups of Romani refugees from Ukraine, mayor says the state's effort has failed so far
- Mayor of Czech Republic's second city alleges Romani refugees sleeping in the train station can access benefits in other countries, then admits she can't prove it
- Czech Deputy Public Defender of Rights: Police ignored whether the man they restrained was even alive, ambulance called too late
- Czech state acknowledges problem with finding accommodation for Romani Ukrainian refugees, Mayor of Prague calls for all free capacities to be provided
- In Czech Republic, the Hungarian passports held by some Romani refugees from Ukraine have not proved to be an advantage
- Romani Ukrainian refugees refused housing and registration in Czech Republic and sent to Germany