Author photos taken by Robert Abrams in Paris, France.



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Friday, January 20, 2012

HIBERNOPHOBIA and the GYPSIES

I hadn't realized how strong Hibernophobia is in the UK until I began watching the TV series: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.

It breaks my heart that such prejudices still exist today against a people from Ireland. The Irish Travellers that are depicted in the television series suffer the most discrimination and racism throughout the UK. Today it's as bad as the whites' early prejudices against the blacks in the USA. Signs such as "No Travellers" and "No Irish Need Apply" are indicative of an unmerciful, unkind people.

I know, I know . . . the religious war between the Irish Catholics and the British Protestants was the initial dispute, but for heaven's sakes, what the hell is it all about now? And to top it off, antiziganism (prejudice against gypsies) is dumped on top of the Irish prejudices.

Did you know they have a very strict moral code? They don't marry outside their kind, and divorce is not an option? True, the life isn't for everybody, but those that have chosen it should be able to live as they wish without prejudice.

In the show I watched tonite ... the wedding planner called over 50 venues to accommodate the reception. But as soon as the hotel would find out it was a traveller wedding they immediately came up with one excuse or another to reject them. Their weddings are huge, and some drive their campers, so the venues have to be spacious. Not easy to find the right site because of those two requirements, either.

They finally found a kind soul - proprietor of an animal shelter, a beautiful building by the way - who accepted them and bent over backwards to make it a fabulous and memorable event for the bride and groom. I know that might make you giggle - an animal shelter, etc., but think about it. Regardless of how well it turned out, is that really fair?

I'm really pissed about it all. If it were left up to me, I would go to Wales and England and build centers for weddings, and would rent them FIRST to travellers and gypsies.

Oh, and maybe you've seen the documentaries about the removal of travellers' camps throughout England ... how they are being ousted, their trailers trashed and burned if they don't move at the nearby council's discretion?

It's a human disgrace. It is. I would also go to England and buy up property and build grounds to house traveller trailers and gysies. I'd make the accommodations modern and comfortable for them. I'd plant trees and shrubery around the perimeter so they wouldn't be bothered, so they could live a good life as others do without prejudices.

They're a very proud, colorful, and dramatic people, historic. They love hard, play hard, and live hard. They don't drain the government coffers, they work for their livings, for themselves and others, and they are loyal to their people.

As I mentioned, they have to marry within their ranks, and rarely do they break that code. They are religious, marry very young and have many children. One thing I don't abide by, however, is that supposedly on the bride's wedding night, the husband beats her to let her know who is boss. No no. But I'm not sure if that is true today, or if they all do it, if so, I would hope that is changed sooner than later.

The ones who give the traveller's a bad name, of course, are the ones who go out drinking and fighting, disturbing the peace. And of course you will find crooks and criminals among them same as those in other cultures. All cultures have bad men and women, sad to say. But it isn't fair to discriminate against all, those who are not.

Something you may not know, the women aren't allowed to go to nightclubs without their men, which I find interesting. But when they do go out, the women dress prevocatively, most likely for themselves and for their own, or for prospective husbands. The weddings are the meeting places for new couples, by the way. People come from all over the country to the weddings. A wedding is a major event.

I find them fascinating. And I find it appalling that they are treated with such disrespect. Most of the families live quietly and peacefully, to themselves, within their communities.

They are human beings after all, just like the rest of us.

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