Okay so … you are a Traveller (Shock! Gasp! Horror! Everyone faint!) and you can’t travel anymore because for years and years councils have reduced your sites, made it impossible for you to stop anywhere, locals harass you and yeah, okay, sometimes you have retaliated. But what has essentially happened is that over a period of time you have become the most reviled, marginalised group of people in the UK.
And so a group of you settle. You settle on land which you have bought. You own it. Part of it is assigned as “green belt” land, which means it shouldn’t be built on. Except when you buy the place, it is a shit hole. Over time, you make it good. You build houses, you put in infrastructure and you make your homes there. Local residents of course still refer to you as thieves, Pikeys, shit-stirrers. But you have come home. More of you want to settle there and you do. Except some of you build on the shithole that is designated as “green belt”. A legal battle ensues, lasting 10 years. This may make people think that your case has a great deal of merit. Oh no – what people think is that you are subverting the law for your own ends. See – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dale_Farm.
Because you can’t win – you travel, they shut you down and threaten to take your kids away because they are not being schooled. You settle in their neighbourhood, they hate you even more. God help you further if you are happy within your own community and don’t fancy mixing much.
And so the legal battle ends in you being served with an eviction notice. From your own homes. And you protest and you bed in to resist. The press have a field day, mislabelling tea urns for lethal weapons which “could contain harmful chemicals”; report on people “threatening violence” when what you say is “peaceful resistance”.
You take advice from people who do a great deal of protesting. You are branded “dangerous” and “violent”. The bailiffs employed by Basildon Council are known for their intimidating and racist behaviour. So much so, that some of them have had to be “retrained”. What a great prospect – being booted out of your homes by people who are racist thugs.
The internet goes mad and guess what …you get to fully understand just what the average British person thinks of you …
Do not get me wrong – the Travelling Community has its share of shites (as does every single “community” in the world). And as a marginalised group of people, they are more likely to work outside of society’s structures which makes the average person nervous. But they are people. With hopes and dreams and lives, just like everyone else. With rights and responsibilities, just like everyone else. Except they have a much bigger battle as they try and live their lives against a backdrop of barbaric behaviour by country’s people who should know and behave better.
If you read some of the comments on the internet, you would think that all Travellers are illiterate, criminal, scurrilous shites. One blog in particular raised my ire but I am so sick of the views expressed on it, I refuse to give it anymore air time.
Here’s one of many, many Travellers who are not and who gives a very good insight into the oppression and the problems faced by Traveller/ Roma communities: http://pipopotamus.blogspot.com/2011/09/re-dispatches-road-to-dale-farm.html?spref=tw.
It’s no longer okay to suggest that we shoot Black people, or Jewish people (and thank heavens for that!), so why is it okay to suggest that we shoot Travellers? Or maim their kids, or rape their wives?
At what point have some of the people in my country turned into a maelstrom of bigoted, vengeful, malicious and abusive assholes? And then proudly gather together, like all racists do (and gods, I saw enough of racists in South Africa to notice the same behaviour), outdoing each other with stories of their abuse, congratulating each other on their festering hate? I am ashamed to think that people outside of the UK can see us for what we are – a nation of nasty, xenophobic, self-opinionated, blinkered twats.