13 responses to Amish versus Roma
  • *
    Comment on Amish versus Roma (August 4th, 2008 at 14:02)

    The most glaring example is recent measures in Italy sanctioned by prime minister Berlusconi’s government, calling for ‘express deportations’, dismantling Roma settlements, fingerprinting and requisite identity cards identifying ethnicity.

    The Italian government is deporting Roma who are in Italy illegally, and destroying camps that were erected without the proper authorization (i.e. illegally). It is not persecution to expect members of a minority group to obey the same laws as everyone else.

  • *
    Comment on Amish versus Roma (August 5th, 2008 at 08:40)

    Most recent Roma arrivals in Italy are EU nationals, but I believe that only around 40% of these arrivals have the proper documentation, if I’m remembering the numbers I’ve seen correctly. Some Roma have been in Italy for hundreds of years and are, as far as I’m aware, Italian citizens. But the bulk of the Roma currently in Italy moved there when the EU expanded to include Romania.

    Regarding the fingerprinting program, it is being carried out on everyone in Italy (Italian, Roma, Albanian, whatever) so that it will be non-discriminatory while still allowing the government to achieve the legislation’s original aim of better tracking child laborers and beggars, which really are rife among the Roma.

    Majority-minority interactions are complex, but my impression is that minorities incur the most resentment when they either seriously under- or overachieve relative to the majority. Market dominant minorities like the Jews in Europe or the Chinese in Malaysia become targets of pogroms carried out by members of the relatively worse-off majority, who resent seeing the “other” in a position of relative affluence. The LA riots in 1992 were sparked by the outcome of the Rodney King trial but quickly degenerated into an ugly racial pogrom against successful Korean and other Asian immigrant storekeepers by their much less affluent black neighbors. On the other hand, Italians are burning down gypsy camps – as you pointed out – because the gypsies are perceived (and statistics support the perception) that, as a population, they are far more criminal than native Italians.

    As a whole, people don’t really perceive the Amish as being either relatively wealthy like LA’s Korean storekeepers or troublemakers like Europe’s Roma, so people have a tendency to be more positively predisposed to them. Of course you’ll always get the stupid, drunk teenager who throws a rock at the “weirdo in a buggy,” but that’s a very different thing for the Amish from having their stores and homes burned down.

  • *
    Comment on Roma and other minority groups held to same standards? (August 5th, 2008 at 06:47)

    Roma and other minority groups held to same standards?

    Marc very good point which I agree with. As I understand it though, with the freedom of movement allowed among member countries of the EU, it can be very difficult to deport someone for illegally residing in a country. Maybe if they are undocumented, which may be the case here. Some may be non-EU, but as I understand it, alot, if not most, are EU nationals. Apparently the fingerprinting and so on, as I understand it, was directed solely at the Roma, so in this situation I think there would be a case to be made for that being a discriminatory policy.

    And the ‘dismantling’ I refer to is definitely justified if it’s there illegally. The government has the right to take it down, point well taken. Worth mentioning though is that certain parts of society is also taking it upon themselves to do the same by attacking and burning Roma camps, including a legal one in Rome the day following the ‘fingerprint census’ the government is apparently carrying out after all.

    Minority groups should be held to the same standards–but in the real world there are numerous exceptions, as we see among our own Amish (religious exemptions for army service, schooling; Social Security), minority preferences in university admissions, etc.

    An interesting question is whether Roma, if they enjoyed the good public opinion and organized representation which the Amish have had, would be able to acquire formalized legal exemptions/privileges too(whatever those might be)? I think alot rests upon public perception and support, and with public opinion the way it is on the Roma, it would be doubtful.

    I really think the Roma situation needs honest effort from both sides to see progress. And a prerequisite to that is both sides actually wanting progress. Which at times is questionable.

  • *
    Helen Parnell-Berry
    Comment on Amish versus Roma (August 7th, 2008 at 12:39)

    Erik, another fascinating write up on your blog. However, this time I have to take issue with what you said about the Roma here in the UK. They are known as Gypsy/Travellers. They are supposed to have the same rights as everyone else here in the UK. Sadly, this is often not the case.
    As I’ve told you before, my daughter studied anthropology at university and has recently graduated. For her dissertation she wrote about the social and cultural differences between Gypsies/Travellers and non-Gypsies (Gorgias). She had real problems with Traveller liaison officials on the local county and district councils (The area we live in has the largest Gypsy/Traveller population in the UK).
    There is discrimination and predjudice. Misinformation and ignorance. Because of the Gypsies wanting to preserve their culture they feel that sending their children to mainstream schools is not helpful to the cultural diversity that they strive to maintain. Also, they feel that their children learn everything they need to know by the time they are 11 years old. They feel that secondary education is a waste of time. However, they send their children to school so that they don’t get into trouble with the authorities.
    Because of the mainstream views about Gypsies (i.e that they are lazy thieves that live off the state; not MY view I hasten to add) they don’t have the same voice here that the Amish have in the US.
    There are many misconceptions about this ancient people, whatever you want to call them whether it’s Roma, Gypsy, Gitanos or Travellers; until both sides make the effort to talk and LISTEN to each other those minconceptions will continue.
    Rant over…..sorry.
    I should get my daughter to email her dissertation to you.

  • *
    Comment on Amish versus Roma (August 7th, 2008 at 16:21)

    I found your article quite interesting as we adopted our (Roma) son from Ukraine and saw first hand the view people had of the Roma. Finding homes for orphaned Roma children is somewhat the same as finding homes for African American children in the system. They are not seen as the most “desirable” children to adopt. We have contact with our son’s birth family and indeed they live in a home that looks nearly identical to the one shown in your piece. I don’t know what the answer is, I just know the problem is huge.

  • *
    Comment on Amish versus Roma (August 7th, 2008 at 19:14)


    Black children are adopted out of foster care at the same rate as white children. They are overrepresented in the system because they enter the system at a far higher rate than white children, which is due to the fact that they suffer far higher rates of abuse and neglect than white children. They also spend a slightly longer time in the system because a larger number are taken care of by kinship caregivers (aunts, grandmothers, etc…), and kinship care isn’t considered a permanency option for children once they have entered the foster care system, though there are two bills in Congress (HR 3607 and S 3038) that might change that. BUT… that is neither here nor there. The point is that the idea that black children are overrepresented in the system because evil whites won’t adopt them is a myth which slanders whites (who adopt upwards of 30% of black kids being adopted out of foster care) as racist while letting blacks completely off the hook for their elevated rates of child abuse and neglect. Stop it. Stop absolving people of bad behavior because they are in a minority and trying to twist the truth to blame the majority population. It is counterproductive.

    • *
      Ellen C Cassidy
      Comment on Let the Hatred Stop !!!! (March 24th, 2013 at 20:39)

      Let the Hatred Stop !!!!

      I am a Social Worker and I can assure you that much of what you are saying is untrue. Yes there are many black children in the foster care systems, but if you take a look at the current data and statistics you will see the rates of black children in the foster care system are high in inner-cities where drugs and poverty levels are very high. Not all children in the foster care system are there because of physical abuse, many children are removed from homes for neglect which could simply mean there parents were unable to care for them financially, their parents could be deceased, mentally ill or incarcerated. I am a social worker in Helena Montana, where the percentage rate of African Americans is only 2 percentage of the population. If you lived here or white children would far out number any other race in the foster care system. It depends on the demographics of each state. There are many contributing factors that lead to abuse no ethnicity or race is immune abuse is prevalent in every country, culture and race. It is a horrible reality. And instead of pointing fingers and or making assumptions that are not based of fact doesn’t help. And yes there are many many white families who adopt black children, and if you do a little research you will find black families who have adopted white children. Tele-evangelist Creflo Dollar has two adopted white children. Actress Victoria Rowell adopted a daughter who is white, the point is when are we all going to start treating each other as one nation under God. There is good,bad and ugly in everyone. We see it in the media each and everyday. Hate and wickedness is color blind. When will we stop bashing each other, being divided, it goes against everything our constitution stands for. I am so tiered of Americans bashing each other. Where does it end ?

  • Segregation of Roma people by governments in Poland, Italy, other European countries

    The Roma issue is a hard one for me because the values that seem to be most dominant in that culture are ones that repel me personally. Generally speaking, someone that shows no desire to even take the first steps to improve their own lot themselves should not be coddled by government. Yet at the same time, some of these governments have active policies in place that do nothing to help the problem and rather further it. And I’m not talking about something that happened 50 or 100 years ago to these people’s grandparents and ancestors, but active policies going on today. Specifically, the segregated schooling and sending disproportionate numbers of Roma youth on the basis of not knowing the country’s official language. I think it would be hard to imagine sth like that taking place in America today, and this is the supposedly more-enlightened EU we are talking about.

    Poland announced that they’d revoke the first part of this package only last Friday after it was publicized in the media, and that they’d take a look at the second. But on the other hand, no telling what parents of non-Roma Polish will do when they learn their children will be attending class with a large group of Roma kids. I imagine some will do what they can to send their children somewhere else, which may mean you end up with a similar situation.

    I can perhaps understand the sentiment but certainly can’t justify the actions of governments who employ the sweep-the-problem-under-the-rug methods as well as those who say perform arson attacks on these Roma settlements, some of which have been legally built.

    Those governments running these policies are shooting themselves in the foot and it will take will from both sides to deal with the issue, especially considering that there are 8 million Roma and with a high birth rate in a demographically shrinking Europe. I think if you continue to either officially or non-officially segregate members of this group you are just going to have a much bigger problem to deal with down the road,and a weakened ability to act.

    The Italy numbers I saw were 150,000 Roma total, with 70,000 Italian Roma and the rest were said to be mainly Romanian and former Yugoslavia. To be frank I am not up to speed on what happens when someone lacks the proper documentation in the EU. As I understand a significant number of Roma lack identification. With most of the EU in Schoengen they would be able to freely travel through around 25 countries without a border check.

    The information I read said nothing about fingerprinting every citizen in Italy…might have been omitted but if so that is a major detail- especially in our recent cultural climate which fears government invasiveness (and which I imagine in socialist-leaning Europe would be even more intense), I would frankly be surprised if the majority Italian population just stuck their thumbs out without protest. But again, I don’t have perfect information here.

  • *
    Comment on Roma private schools and adhering to cultural standards (August 8th, 2008 at 03:43)

    Roma private schools and adhering to cultural standards

    Helen thanks for your comment! and I’d be glad if you or your daughter shared more info, even the thesis.

    I found what you wrote here interesting:

    Because of the Gypsies wanting to preserve their culture they feel that sending their children to mainstream schools is not helpful


    they feel that their children learn everything they need to know by the time they are 11 years old. They feel that secondary education is a waste of time

    …because it sounds akin to the arguments the Amish have used in favor of their own schooling. I’ve never heard of a Roma private school however. If that were the case it may be an interesting way to approach the situation. Of course you would have to have it run something along the lines of the way the Amish do, with kids learning almost solely in the dominant language and having to adhere to government standards. I wonder if anything like that has been tried.

    Bunchesoffun thanks alot for sharing as well, what I found fascinating is that you said you still have contact with your son’s birth family. It must be a positive situation for everyone involved, I gather, or you wouldn’t continue to do so–I’m thinking more about issues for the child–or if I can ask, was that a pre-arranged agreement when you adopted?

  • *
    Comment on Amish versus Roma (August 26th, 2008 at 08:02)

    “Rom” people, not “Roma”.
    Roma is an italian city, Rom are people from Romania, or gipsy if you prefere.

  • *
    Honestly speaking
    Comment on Amish versus Roma (November 11th, 2009 at 11:03)

    The reason there exist segregated schools for Roma is because many Roma themselves want to be segregated so to preserve their culture and language.

    The US forces integration which is equally as wrong as forcing seregation. People should have a right to self-determination and not be forced either to segregate or integrate.

  • *
    Comment on Subcultures (August 14th, 2013 at 03:54)


    This is such an interesting thing to observe as an indian. The roma are known to have emigrated from northern india 1500 or so years ago.

    What might not be as well known in EU is that we have their ‘cousins’ that live the same lifestyle in india. (banjara’s etc). I grew up with them ‘coming’ by each year and making a living doing similar things. The difference is that in india, there is much more of a ‘let live’ attitude than in EU. There is generally little friction, if at all. It is truly a melting pot where different cultures coexist, without having to be ‘assimilated’. EU and US (European descendants rather) clearly have little tolerance for this. That’s a shame

  • *
    Comment on Amish versus Roma (August 14th, 2013 at 19:21)

    I’ve seen documentaries about these people, but don’t know too much about them, I did no that they where Asian in origin. The last thing on TV I saw was this bizarre British filmed, but TLC aired extravagant wedding series featuring young and over the top gypsy couples going far beyond their means in either England or Ireland, or maybe it was Whales, anyway, it was so dumb and the story lines where so feeble that I’m glad I no longer have access to TLC. Another thing they have in common with the Amish, poor representation on train-wreck television channels.

Leave a reply to Amish versus Roma


Resource List
Reliable information from one of the largest Amish sites on the web.

Join over 10,000 email subscribers to get:
Amish Community Info | Book Giveaways | Amish Writers & non-Amish Experts | More

100% Free | No Spam | Unsubscribe Anytime