In his book, Romaphobia: The Last Acceptable form of Racism, Aidan McGarry gives a powerful analysis of anti-Roma racism in Europe. His aims in the book are to highlight the plight of European Roma and to anal- yse the underlying causes of their persecution. The quandary, as McGarry sees it, is that Roma persecution in Europe has persisted unabated for over six hundred years. As soon as Roma appeared in Europe in the late fourteenth century they were traded as slaves, or targeted by laws calling for assimilation or death. Roma were targeted for mass extermination during the Holocaust, and even now, they face widespread persecution across Europe. Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini, for instance, insists on compiling a “Gypsy Registry” and cleansing Italian neighbour- hoods of Roma camps. The French government targets Roma settlements for demolition and, in defiance of European laws, deports around twenty thousand Roma to other countries every year. Targeted murders of Roma in Hungary, Slovakia, and the Ukraine are encouraged, and ignored. Tabloid newspapers in the UK drum up anti-Roma sentiment. Indeed, the Daily Mail even cite former UK opposition leader Jeremy Corbin’s past attempts to protect Roma from eviction in London as a reason for his unsuitability to become Prime Minister—in modern Britain, compassion
for Gypsies is a sign of questionable character. For McGarry, then, this persistence is central to the puzzle of Romaphobia—why does this form of racism remain unchallenged and acceptable?