|>>|| No. 26610
I work with a traveller charity, so I'll type up a few observations, in no particular order, in case anyone is interested. (I can only speak about travellers in England, some of this is no doubt applicable to Irish travellers etc but I wouldn't know.)
Going in, I didn't know anything about travellers beyond what the press occasionally reports. Like most people I understood that they were, by choice, extremely isolated, but I assumed that there was some degree of overlap and intermingling with the society around them. Apparently not - recent research has shown that their genetic history can be traced more or less directly back to India/SE Asia, around ~700 years ago. When they say they only marry within the community, they mean it, and they've been at it a long time.
That doesn't mean that nobody ever leaves, of course. The sharper among them clearly realise early on that their best hope for a comparatively comfortable life is to get educated, get a job and get a home outside the community. But anyone who marries outside of the community is ostracised, and once you're out, there's no getting back in. This is, as you'd expect, a massive brain drain on the community. As they actively stigmatise those who make something of themselves and broaden their horizons, the traveller community effectively expel their best and brightest with each passing generation. They would come at it from a different angle: had their culture not been so aggressively isolationist then it would've been assimilated long ago. From an outsider's perspective, though, they do seem to be cutting off their nose to spite their face.
If you've never been to a traveller site it will be a shock, the squalor is difficult to put into words. It's one thing to watch it in Snatch or on some trashy ITV documentary, but it's something else altogether to see it first hand, to turn off a well maintained country road and onto a garbage patch with people living on it. I've seen some pretty rough housing estates, I used to live in Stoke for fuck's sake, but nothing else I've seen in Britain compares to the traveller sites. Nobody should be living in this degree of poverty anywhere, much less in a modern Western democracy, but here we are.
Hard manual labour, particularly fruit and vegetable picking, has historically been their bread and butter. The work available to them had apparently been on the wane through the late 20th century, but around the turn of the century the ex-soviet states that entered the EU really opened the floodgates of cheap manual labour in Britain, and farmers will always pick a Pole over a pikey. Which is where we end up today - an unskilled, largely illiterate, wholly isolated community that has no work available to them. Of course they turn to crime.
>In my experience it tends to be those who haven't really encountered gypsies much in real life who tend to defend them.
I'm not sure I'd jump to defend them - in any case, nobody can deny that they are often their own worst enemy, prideful and quick to anger, and accustomed to sorting disputes with violence. Someone above called it a cultural problem, and that's definitely true, but it doesn't really get you anywhere to say it. It's easy to identify their shortcomings, you're spoiled for choice. It's a lot harder to see a productive forward path. It's true that traveller culture does not particularly value reading or writing, this is a significant shortcoming and it really holds them back. Dig a little further and you'll find that many of them realise that in the smartphone era they are hopelessly marginalised without literacy, but they only reach this awareness once it's too late to go back to school. Obviously I'm biased, but I'd say that one small example of progress is the adult schooling provided by the charity I work for, which generally takes place at night (it's seen as shameful for adult travellers to be seen accepting such help, especially from outside the community, so classes have to be held discretely). I never hear about it and nobody ever talks about it. No doubt it's slow progress, but overall things are improving. Depending on how strictly you define literacy, about 50% of traveller women are illiterate, with things a little better among the lads, but not much. Fifty years ago, that figure was closer to 90% for both.
>which actually costs them money to send the kids to, and roots them in a place which is inconvenient for them
One of the most common misconceptions is that travellers live on the road. They'll make a scene about getting in their old horse-drawn carriage and meeting up across the country (a big deal in the traveller world), and they'll certainly travel to new places for work, but most don't live as itinerants day to day; "traveller" is their heritage more so than their function.
(I'd guess that the ones that do just bounce from place to place are the ones that have been kicked out of, or otherwise barred, from every traveller site in the country, the worst of the worst, hence stuff like >>26550.)
I think some people get confused between Roma-descended travellers and new age travellers, I know I did as a younglad. Roma gypsies fucking hate new age travellers. Given the liberal, peace-loving sensibilities of the latter, I doubt there was ever any love lost from the the gypsy community, but in particular the Thatcher/Major Conservative government crackdowns in the 80s and 90s (the Criminal Justice Act and so on) is perceived to have been targeting the hippies, with the Roma community being collateral damage. There's probably some truth to it.
>I'd still say we're better off trying to integrate traveller communities into society
In case it isn't obvious from the above, the issue is that many of them they will resist such integration to their dying breath. Partly this is because they know no better, but a lot of it is a simple consequence of the extraordinary racism they experience day to day, surely unparalleled in this country. For evidence, just look at this thread. The mods around here are broadly left-leaning and tolerant, and they usually ban racists. Imagine that some previous posters in this thread had instead written the following:
>I think that ultimately Jews can't thrive in Europe - there's just too much historical bad blood. We should just offer to swap them with America for Latinos, for some reason Jews aren't a problem in North America. If some KKK types complain we can always tell them that they're white and discriminated against by rural landowners.
>blacks are all thieving bastards
I think we all know how that would go.
(Fucking hell, that's a much bigger post than I intended. There's a bit more to say, particularly about how rough the women have it, oh well. I'll try and answer questions if anyone has any, though.)