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Wednesday, March 09, 2005


A campaign

The ‘blogosphere’ (how I hate that ugly word) has built itself a reputation for being an organising locus for campaigns against stories, reporters or editorial bias in the media. Bloggers have claimed the scalps of Dan Rather and Eason Jordan (I will not link to sites such as Little Green Footballs and The Anti-Idiotarian Rotweiller, two of the most popular blogs involved. If you have a strong stomach then check out these sites out. Make sure that you read the comments boxes. I will, however, recommend the LGF quiz), and have whipped up storms over left-wing bias in the US media, forcing broadcasters into the abhorrent mould of Fox News. However, these efforts have largely been one way – an assault by the right on the perceived left. I want to recruit the power of the internet for my campaign, a response to an article published in The Sun (a stable mate of Fox News in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation – I am troubled by their ownership of rugby league) today. The link is here, but The Sun archives require a subscription, so I have reproduced the article below.

Inside a paper that boasts of “Sun War on Gipsy Free-For-All” we have:

Stamp on the camps

Spreading misery ... huge camp of 1,000 Irish travellers at Crays Hill, Essex

THE Sun today launches a campaign to STOP John Prescott giving the green light to illegal gipsy camps across Britain.The Deputy Prime Minister has ordered local councils to go soft on travellers’ camps and turn a blind eye to the shocking problems they create.But The Sun, on behalf of our ten million readers, is determined to fight him all the way.

Tell us your gipsy stories

Have you had experience of gipsies or travellers being treated as if they are above the law after setting up illegal camps? Email us at the address below, or you can send us a fax.

FAX: 020 7782 4063

The Bartlett’s Bizarre Bazaar Campaign

I want everyone who reads this blog to fax The Sun their ‘gipsy story’. I want you to find a piece of testimony, or historical documentation, or a news report – whatever you can find – that will help The Sun understand how gypsies and travellers have been discriminated against and persecuted in the past. Send them everything from the horrors of the Nazi death camps to experiences of modern day Roma in Eastern Europe and travellers in Britain. When Tony Blair has so recently declared that the Holocaust started “with a brick through the window of a Jewish business, the desecration of a synagogue, the shout of racist abuse on the street”, I think we should take this seriously. Or perhaps your local bonfire will burn effigies of gypsies this year. And next year…?

Fax them, and pass the message on!

Great stuff..WE already know that it isn't everyone in the UK who supports the sun's incitement to racial hatred (for which I have reported them to the police), so it is good to see someone organise a campaign like this.
Len Smith
Good on you mate. Indymedia has some horrible stories about eight year old having their arms broken by baliffs during recent evictions. Who knows what people will do with a little encouragement.

Not that travellers are all sweetness and light. I've known a few perfectly horrid ones. But they don't have to be saints for us to defend them against this kind of persecution.
This is an excellent idea,I will indeed find some appropriate storys and send them off.
I found by googling "gypsies roma discrimination uk" i got some great results.
I will try and distribute this as widely as possible.
Here's a quick topic for discussion.

The Sun's campaign is clearly loathsome, and I will take part in your protest. however, what they are doing is explicitly NOT racism. Roma people who have chosen to buy property, to work within the system, are not the target of this campaign. Roma people who insist on continuing their ancient roaming lifestyle are.

Here's the rub: do you propose that people's beliefs and actions should be protected in the same way that people are protected in the grounds of sexuality, age, disability and the colour of their skin?

Because I've seen the misery and criminal activity caused by the illegal encampment of travellers, I no longer view this as a question of civil liberties. It's a question of a crime. As such, I believe people should be evicted from illegal campsites, by force if they resist, but that there should be legal campsites set aside for people who choose to follow a travelling lifestyle. To protect travellers as some kind of species that can't help disobeying laws does not help them: indeed, it reinforces their social exclusion.
"Now all these people would doubtless claim that they are attacking not a race but a lifestyle. Jack Straw, for example, explained that he was not talking about “real Romany Gypsies … who seem to mind their own business and don’t cause trouble” but about “people who masquerade as travellers or Gypsies”.4 It is, of course, true that not all traditional travellers are ethnic Roma, and not all Roma are travellers. But the same could be said of Judaism, which embraces both an ethnicity and a religious culture. We recognise that there is no moral distinction between attacks on Jews by people who object to their way of life and attacks on Jews by people who object to their race. We also recognise that racism is a matter of characterising a community by the behaviour of some its members.

The persecution of Gypsies has often been accompanied by questions, like Straw’s, about their authenticity. In 1554, a British law explained that people calling themselves Aegyptians were in fact “false vagabonds”, and condemned them to death.5 The report on the “Gypsy question” presented to Heinrich Himmler, which recommended their confinement to labour camps, asserted that “most gypsies are not gypsies at all” but “the products of matings with the German criminal asocial proletariat”." 6
Well said and well done. I've stuck the relevant details on the message board at, where hopefully the word will spread ever wider.
With a tremendous shortfall in legal gypsy sites it seems that they have little choice but to set up illegal sites.

I believe that The Sun's campaign is racist; in the same way that Michael Howard's 'immigrants bring disease' policy is racist and the BNP's campaigns against 'immigrant crime' is racist. The arguments are phrased in such a way as to avoid being racist when considered as an isolated utterance to an unspecified audience, but when the speaker and the audience are considered these are not only racist, they were meant to be racist.

Furthermore, we should look at what The Sun wants. David Duff, replying to my other post, would argue they simply want everyone to obey the law. However, John Prescott is being vilified for proposing the councils will be forced to provide sites for gypsies. It agenda is expressed in terms of 'house prices will fall' and 'meet your new neighbour'. In other words, The Sun has no agenda for integration on a consensual basis, or provision for their legal existence, but rather wants gypsies to disappear. To criminalise a people. The Sun explicitly opposes the establishment of legal sites, and then complains about illegal camps. Well, not just complains, but demands that these camps are 'stamped on'.

If The Sun concentrated on crime rather than type of housing, which in this case is a proxy for race (socially constructed, perhaps [as all races ultimately are], but definitely and categorically a 'not us'), then it would calling for the riot police to be called into all sorts of neighbourhoods.

Imagine if they wrote in this manner about black people, or Asian people? It would not matter whether crime was higher in a predominately black neighbourhood or not, we simply would not tolerate this language that demonises whole groups, prevents integration and participation and feeds violent antagonistic sentiment. And if they dropped in the old standby, 'the blacks moving in next door are pushing down our house prices', we would know, immediately, that they were racists under a populist veneer.

Incidentally, I don't think that The Sun cares one jot about the people writing in to complain with their 'gipsy stories'. This is electioneering at its lowest, using gypsies as a card to paint Labour (through John Prescott) onto the 'wrong side' of a campaign manufactured not by individuals but by a paper owned by one of the richest men on earth.
The climate does not bode well for the Roma all over Europe, the Czech governemnt currently have a policy for their forcible sterilisation. Tell that to the 'Scum'.
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