Sunday, August 26, 2012


“Misrepresented and exploited….”

In an earlier post, that’s how Dr. Ian Hancock characterized the National Geographic Channel’s new “reality” series American Gypsies.

Which prompted the following exchange (from the comments):

Bill The Thumb •  
Ian, Frankly, you seem to be a bit of a blowhard and a tool. I would suggest you a) Relax. You will live longer. And b) Reserve judgment until you have seen the show. You can’t judge a show by a trailer. And I don’t know much about Hollywood, but it seems to me the producers of this show are pretty darn reputable, so let’s give them the benefit of the doubt until they prove otherwise.
Ciuin Ferrin, Educational Director, O Porrajmos Educational Society • 
Bill the Thumb, I would have to question your education at this point. You judged Dr. Hancock without understanding what he knows and proved yourself when you resorted to name calling. The reason why he and other Romanies were offended is because we recognize that our culture, something you know nothing about, is being misrepresented and exploited by Nat Geo. It is obvious in the trailer. We’ve now seen the show. Dr. Hancock is correct.

As for Ralph “The Karate Kid” Maccio being a reputable producer of a show about a culture he knows nothing about, I again question your logical thought. One would think someone with his background would be slightly more sensitive to the complex issues other cultures face. It seems not. We have listened to Ralph explain how he knows us because he knows the Mafia. He and Nat Geo are using a dysfunctional family (personal friends of Maccio’s) to gain ratings. Nat Geo has tarnished its good name by stooping to such levels. Both are now less than reputable. 
From their own website, Nat Geo claims the high ground: “Since 1888, National Geographic has supported exploration and discovery, bringing gems like Machu Picchu, undersea wonders, and new species to light. Inspiring people to care about the planet—and every living creature on it—is our mission. We promote and fund natural and cultural conservation projects. National Geographic supports groundbreaking scientific fieldwork and critical expeditions through grant programs and public projects.”
How does a Facebook page designed to mock the Romani kris by “take your friends to Gypsy Court” fit the above mandate?

For the sake of ratings, Nat Geo would rather join the ranks of tripe reality TV than to do what it should: educate the masses about what is really going on in Romani reality. In reality our children are kept out of the public school system in the Czech Republic. The CR lost its case in the Court of Human Rights some five years ago, but they refuse to incorporate Romani children in to the system.  
How can the cycle of poverty be broken without an education? (D.H. and Others v Czech Republic).Since 1980, 90,000 Romani women were sterilized in the Czech Republic (Office of the Commissioner of Human Rights for the Council of Europe). While the CR has apologized, it refuses to make reparations to the women in question. Neo-nazis are burning Romani homes in the CR and getting away with murder (Prague Daily paper). What is frightening? The Czech Republic is responsible for writing human rights policy for the UN! Slovakia also has sterilized Romani women and allowed the neo-nazis to attack and murder Romanies. The list goes on and on, but I think even you, Bill the thumb, can see the pattern. 
Our reality is one of discrimination. Our reality is one of poverty. Our reality is one of fear. And Nat Geo is thriving on it. I think that makes Nat Geo and you, Bill, the tools.
Ciuin Ferrin
Educational Director, O Porrajmos Educational Society
For Dr. Hancock’s detailed critique of American Gypsies,
please see our Roma resource page.

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