Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Romney, Roma, and the Race Card

To nobody's surprise, the Romney campaign has been trying to corral the racist vote with suggestive remarks.  John Sununu, former New Hampshire governor, said the president should "learn how to be an American."  He later apologized, and the media all tried to spin it as a rejoinder to the president's comment that business owners did not build their companies by themselves, which Republicans think is outrageous.  Naturally they had no objection when Mitt Romney told Olympic athletes at the 2002 Olympics they didn't succeed on their own.

A story on the apology:
 This particular blog didn't even refer to the original comments in their story about the apology.

But Sununu's actual comments contained worse.:

 “He has no idea how the American system functions, and we shouldn’t be surprised about that, because he spent his early years in Hawaii smoking something, spent the next set of years in Indonesia, and when he came to the U.S. worked as a community organizer — which is a socialized structure — and then got into politics in Chicago. There has been no experience in his life in which he’s earned a private-sector paycheck that meant anything.”  Note that Sununu implies Hawaii is not part of the U.S. even though it has been a state throughout Obama's life.

Obama was a small child when he moved to Indonesia, so he wasn't "smoking something"  He returned to the US for high school and college, a year working, and then law school.  Then he became a community organizer.  He had a number of private sector jobs, and of course "community organizing" is hardly a communist apparatchik job in America.  Obama built his community group from three people to seventy-five essentially from scratch.  Mitt Romney's financial predations were carried out on existing businesses, and the new company he "started" on instructions from Bill Bain had millions in start up capital lined up to begin with. 

This was not the first and would not be the last attempt to frame Obama as not American.  In London, two advisers who said Romney told them not to criticize Obama to foreign media, did just that, saying he didn't appreciate the "Anglo-Saxon heritage" the US and Britain share and saying that Romney is "naturally more Atlanticist."

Anyone who thinks the candidate himself is not behind such remarks got their answer at Romney's response to being booed at the NAACP, which was to suggest that they wanted "Free stuff" from government.

None of this is any surprise.  The question is, is it true.  Romney's ancestors came from Britain, but the name "Romney" itself, is derived from the Roma or gypsy people.   Romney is one of the words they call themselves or their language.
 Various places in England, like Romney marsh, were named for them because they were notorious gypsy gathering places.  Gypsies or Roma people wandered to England from, ultimately, India, and pursued a nomadic lifestyle within the kingdom.  It is not known, of course, whether Romney got his name from the Roma people because he is one, or because his ancestors came from these places that were historically tied to the Roma people such as Dalton, place of a Traveler's fair, which has been anxious to claim the Romneys.

It is known, however, that the Roma people and Mormons have had an historic affinity based precisely on the fact that Roma have an exclusive communal clan-based culture, hostile to outsiders, that differs in many ways from the "Anglo-Saxon heritage," as do Mormons.  Note the last paragraph in this study from the last decade

"There are Romanies who have embraced Mormonism" although the article suggests that Pentecostalism is a more frequent choice.

Nonetheless, there was probably a profound Roma influence on early Mormons like the Romneys.  Brigham Young famously encouraged emigration using handcarts, a cheaper version of  the gypsy vardo much in use among Roma people in Europe even to the present day, and it is entirely probable that much early Mormon immigration from Europe during the era the Romneys arrived might have been from people already familiar with this technology, that is to say, Roma people.  It is also probable that the Mormon treatment of "gentiles" owes more to the Roma concept of "Gaje" than to the Jewish concept of "Gentiles."

In short, it is not unlikely that Obama's Anglo-Saxon bona fides are perhaps superior to Romney's.  Romney will try to appeal to racists in this election and each remark will be reported by the media as a dog whistle to summon the racists to his camp (sometimes with disapproving head shakes, and sometimes not). However, it is rather unlikely any of them will even mention the likely gypsy origins of the Republican candidate's family.  As Holocaust victims, the Roma people should be treated without prejudice.  However, the fact is that people who disapprove of Obama because of race would also likely disapprove of Romney if he were demonstrated to be of Roma origin, so there will be a cone of silence around this topic, demonstrating again the double standards of American media.

Meanwhile, Romney still has the option of asking Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Herman Cain, Bobby Jindal, or Florida's lieutenant governor (currently embroiled in a lesbian sex scandal) if  he needs 'color' on the ticket, although it might scotch his gains from the race gambit, so it likely won't be done.

No comments:

Post a Comment