Monday, March 21, 2011
FROM ARTISTS INITIATIVE AGAINST ROMAPHOBIA AND ANTIZIGANISM
Ms. Abbe Raven
CEO of A&E Network
235 East 45th Street
New York NY 10017
16 March 2011
On Friday, March 11, 2011, the repeat episode of Criminal Minds titled Bloodlines ran on A&E network.
The story of this episode tells how a family of Gypsies kidnaps two young girls, age ten, wanting to make one of them the bride of their son. The Gypsies slice the throats of parents, and we learn through the investigation that the boy was forced to kill one of the parents while his father gave him instructions. This is considered a ‘rite of passage’ from boyhood to manhood. Later, the boy is being taught by his parents how to steal from a dummy that has bells hanging from it and the audience is informed by the “expert detectives” that this is the test of the seven bells, a method Gypsies use to teach their children to pick pockets. While the boy is practicing, the first girl kidnapped has a seizure. The father decides to murder her. His wife reminds him that they do not kill little girls. As the show continues, the “expert detectives” explain that “a lot of Romani make their living as petty thieves” as well as other statements based on racist and stereotypical beliefs. In the end, it is revealed that there are numerous Gypsy families living in the United States, murdering parents and kidnapping their daughters. The final scene in the show depicts yet another ten year old boy and his parents preparing to murder yet another set of parents and kidnap their daughter.
As this episode aired, a demonstration by white supremists began in Novy Bydzov in the Czech Republic. This demonstration was prompted by a Czech mayor who claims "They (the Romani) are roaming the town, being a nuisance, stealing and raping. During the time a decent citizen works, gypsies lazily sit on park benches in the square, happily chatting.”- Prague Daily Monitor, November 26, 2010.
The conditions of the Roma in the Czech Republic are appalling. Forced sterilizations have been in place from the 1970s until as late as 2007. Romani children are placed in schools for the mentally handicapped, even if they score well on tests. The Romani have sued and won the right to be educated in the public school system in the Czech Republic, yet they have yet to be allowed to set foot inside a regular classroom. Elsewhere in European Union, the Romani are being fingerprinted and photographed in Italy, a direct violation of the human rights regulations set down by the UN. The last time this happened, Hitler was in power and the Romani were sent to the gas chambers. Romani are being deported from France, Italy, Germany, with England soon to follow, even though these people have been living in these countries for over ten years.
Forced sterilizations, the denial of education, the denial of work, being fingerprinted and photographed; these actions are obscene to the American way of thinking, and yet, we don’t mind, because Gypsies really are dirt, after all, that is how they are portrayed on TV.
Contrary to the comments made on the show, most Romani do not steal. I will not deny that some Romani do steal, but can you name a race whose members have never committed a crime? Romani children are not ‘born to steal’ nor do parents teach their children to do so. The bell man is a creation of author Victor Hugo for his novel “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”
Romani children in Europe are denied an education to help themselves out of poverty. Parents do not steal brides for their sons and they do not kidnap children. The show claims that the Gypsies in the US have gotten away with murder and kidnapping because they are nomadic, yet 85 – 90% of the world Romani population are settled. But more importantly, the crime of murder is considered not only heinous to the Romani, but a crime of such evil that those who commit it are put out from the society.
European politicians villianize and scapegoat the Romani, claiming they are to blame for high crime rates, poor economic conditions, and most social ills. Yet they refuse to follow through with the European Union’s plan for Romani inclusion and ignore the EU’s regulations regarding the treatment of minorities within the EU’s borders. By using such tactics, the politicians in Europe guaranty the continued persecution, discrimination, and murder of the Romani for years to come.
Your mission statement for your company makes the following claims to your work environment:
We believe that our programs, products and services are only as good as the people who create them. Because of this, we have a commitment to high ethical values and to creating a workplace where employees are encouraged to strive for professional excellence. The diversity of our workforce plays an increasingly important role in meeting this commitment. Diversity extends beyond race, color, creed or sexual orientation. Diversity is that combination of traits and characteristics that makes each of us unique individuals and what brings us together to achieve our goals. Diversity is about respect, openness, innovation, and knowledge. It's what we practice in our business.
I ask you now to uphold that which you claim to embrace. I am not asking you to cancel the show, only to pull that episode. It promotes racism and the stereotypes that keep the Romani in both the United States and Europe in perpetual poverty and persecution
Posted by Morgan at 5:23 PM