Radoslav Banga, Rom and proud to claim the heritage, will represent the Czech Republic at the Eurovision with a song "Supergypsy" that makes fun of all the stereotypes applied to Roms. His selection, according to Le Monde, has enraged the Czech neo-nazi who cannot stand the thought of a Rom representing the country (I told you before the Eurovision is all about nationalism). The song itself is really not that great but the video is a satirical accumulation of anti-Rom stereotypes:
But anti-Rom prejudice is not limited to the Czech Republic. Hungary has had its share of anti-Rom violence as the economy deteriorates and prejudice levels deepen:
The rise in prejudice is, of course, perceived not as a reaction to a deteriorating economy but as a logical reaction to an "objective" state of affairs: Roms commit a lot of crimes, everyone knows that. Why doesn’t the government do something about it, clamors the entire right wing (and not just the usual ethnocentric far right)? Once public opinion’s awareness is raised, any incident involving Roms will be labeled as Rom criminality, creating a cumulative record of ethnic anti-social behavior that can be pointed to as major social problem. It works even better when the scapegoated minority has a long history of being blamed for criminal behavior:
And here is a good demonstration of how one creates a criminal ethnic minority:
Furthermore, another good illustration of racial construction works in two steps: (1) define a lot of crime as "Gypsy crimes", but also (2) de-racialize crimes committed against Gypsies as not racial or ethnic hate crime, that is, eliminate the racial motive. What is left is a socially produced view of society where Gypsies commit a lot of crimes against the majority but are never victims of crime because of their ethnicity. This ethnic-based criminality of the majority against the minority is then nicely evacuated, leaving only one category of crimes and criminals.
Another issue that has arisen for the Eurovision is the question of homophobia mixed with extreme nationalism as activist groups plan on organizing a gay pride event corresponding to the Eurovision contest in Moscow (the last gay prides ended badly as nationalists beat up on the demonstrators that included Right Said Fred singer – remember him?). This year might not be very different as nationalism and religious extremism flourishes in Russia:
It remains to be seen whether international reputation matters to the notoriously-homophobic mayor of Moscow.