Ezra Levant: Gypsies “a culture synonymous with swindlers”

6 Sep

By Evan Zenobia

OTTAWA – On Saturday, Eclipse News reported that Sun News was using the ethnic slur “gypsy” in their Top Story’s headline and was inciting anti-Roma sentiment by appealing to xenophobic prejudices and stereotypes.

Today, Ezra Levant decided to set a precedent for hysterical racism on his station. The Sun News superstar’s feature, “The Jew vs. The Gypsies,” is 8 and-a-half minutes of vicious anti-Roma hatred that gratuitously exploits negative stereotypes of Roma people in a cynical and shallow attempt to fan the flames of xenophobia.

Levant is so overtly racist that he doesn’t even pretend to disguise his contempt for Roma. Insisting on the slur instead of the correct term, the “journalist” goes after the entire community, sparing nobody.

Here are some of the highlights.

“Roma is the name of a kind of tomato, as you know, but it’s what some people call gypsies” (05:23)

“[T]he phrase “Gypsy” and “cheater” have been so interchangeable, historically, that the word has entered the English language as a verb: “he gypped me.” (around 00:25)

“They come here to gypp us again, to rob us blind as they have done in Europe for centuries” (around 00:35)

“They’re Gypsies and one of the central characteristics of their culture is that their chief economy is theft and begging. Sorry it’s true.” (around 00:45)

“They gyp their way into Canada and now they’re gypping the rest of us.” (around 02:25)

“[t]hese are Gyspies, a culture synonymous with swindlers.” (around 00:20)

All this coming from the guy who found completely inappropriate, dishonest and unacceptable that a Progressive Conservative campaign manager had publicly criticised the Wildrose Party as racist and anti-gay.

In any case, Levant “backs up” his odiously racist claim that to be Roma is to be criminal by scrolling a number of mug shots of people who happen to be Roma, prattling off their names and emphasizing their exotic and foreign-sounding character. Levant insists that all “Gypsies” criminal, even if he admits:

“Now to be clear none of these folks have been convicted and the accusations haven’t been proven yet in court.” (04:03)

But, for Levant, that whole “innocent until proven guilty” principle that has served as a cornerstone of Western civilisation for the past several centuries can take a back seat to stereotypes and hysteria. Actually, scrap the back seat. Levant takes that principle, ties it down on the street and runs it over with a big, fat, gas-guzzling SUV.

“They’re gypping us! Sorry but that’s a word for a reason, they’re thieves!” (around 07:20)

Oh of course! If ethnic slurs exist, it’s because they’re totally deserved and merited! If ethnic stereotypes are widespread, it’s because they’re based on fundamental truth. Thank you Sun News, for explaining this phenomenon!

This “reasoning” calls into question why Levant would title his story “The Jew vs. The Gypsies.” Does Levant “The Jew,” expect his audience to apply the same reasoning to his identity to explain the existence of anti-Semitic slurs and stereotypes?

It also calls to question why someone who so strongly self-identifies as a Jew would drum up the same hateful, stereotype-exploiting rhetoric the Nazis used against both Jews and Roma. Over half of all European Roma were exterminated in the Nazi holocaust alongside Jews (as well as homosexuals, persons with disabilities, communists and many Eastern Europeans).

In any case, the most monumentally, phenomenally stupid and uninformed moment in Levant’s tirade exposes just how ignorant the “journalist” is of the people he bashes.

“Gypsies aren’t a race, they aren’t a religion, they aren’t a linguistic group, they’re the medieval prototype of the Occupy Wall Street movement, a shiftless group of hobos that doesn’t believe in property rights for themselves, they’re nomads, or for others they rob people blind. Now the scourge has come to Canada.” (01:44)

To start, Roma are an ethnic group. The MacBook Dashboard dictionary defines “Gypsy,” as “a member of a travelling people with dark skin and dark hair who speak Romany and traditionally live by seasonal work, itinerant trade, and fortune-telling.” As a second source, the Roma Community Centre explains “Roma belong to a distinct ethnic group that originated in Northwest India in the 11th century AD. They speak a Sanskrit-based language called Romani that exists today in many dialects in different countries.

So, Levant is either uninformed on his subject to an alarmingly and unprofession-ally high degree for a public figure and “journalist,” or he is just pulling lies out of his ass to an alarmingly and unprofessionally high degree for a public figure journalist.” Frankly, Eclipse News wouldn’t be surprised at either of the answers.

Of course, there’s plenty more dishonesty. Levant claims that Roma claiming refugee status are lying on their applications because there’s no persecution of Roma in Hungary, from where the majority of Roma in Canada hail. However, the Economist, Amnesty International and others have documented the rise of anti-Roma vigilantism and violence in Hungary by far-right groups and the Hungarian government’s inaction in protecting Roma human rights . Once again, this amounts to either ignorance or lying.
And of course, the focus on criminality is the gross exaggeration of age-old bigotry and myths further exposed by the Roma Community Centre’s website.

This dishonesty and vitriol exposes in Sun News Network an unhealthy racist obsession reminiscent of the historical fears and ignorance that throughout the centuries drove the persecution of Roma that culminated with the Nazi holocaust and genocide. We cannot afford to let such rhetoric go unchallenged, lest we risk the tragedies of the past repeat themselves.

Sun News claims “the other networks just don’t have the stomach for this.” Neither does the vast majority of the citizens of this country. Roma are not a scourge. Eclipse News stands in solidarity with all persecuted people and will resolutely defend the Roma people against the slurs and slanders of Sun News.

*For an honest and fair description of Roma culture, visit the Roma Community Centre website at http://www.romatoronto.org/index.html

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