Below we reproduce a letter from the editor of the Travellers’ Times to the Metro newspaper on a recent racist article and cartoon on Gypsies.
‘Presumably you expected Richard Herring’s piece ’Beware the gipsy (sic) curse‘ (Metro, 9 November 2012) to raise cheap laughs, but we Romany Gypsies, and those who work with us, would struggle to see why. The piece lacks that fundamental ingredient of comedy, the element of surprise, in that it puts no twist whatsoever on the centuries-old superstition that Romany people can wreak havoc with a curse. Mr Herring would better advertise his comic talent with a conventional advert- as, funnily enough, he did on p56 of the same paper.
Of more concern than his crassly racist article is the cartoon you commissioned to accompany it. With its gold-laden, hook-nosed, dark-skinned, filthy-handed caricature of a Romany woman, your paper distinguishes itself by printing exactly the sort of sneering drawing by which Jews and Romanies were stereotyped in the Third Reich, then a means of engineering public consent to their mass murder. The woman in the cartoon even has a sprig of ’lucky‘ heather in her hair: selling heather is an English Romany tradition, although the piece refers to a woman in Italy. But the facts don’t matter to racists.
Romany Gypsies are recognised as an ethnic minority under the Race Relations Act. There are perhaps 300,000 of us in the UK, as well as many Romany people from across Europe, many of whom have fled vigilante attacks from the resurgent far right in Eastern Europe.
Is it too much to ask that we be afforded the same civility given to other peoples? Would the Metro consider printing a ’humorous‘ editorial about how a jew (sic) once swindled a British comedian out of his schillings, complete with a Fagin-esque hook-nosed caricature? We think not.’
Yours sincerely, Damian Le Bas, editor, Travellers’ Times