Well no, obviously it's not in the Mail. What were you expecting, some kind of Damascene conversion?
No, it's at the BBC, with readers from across Europe and elsewhere discussion discrimination (or otherwise) against Roma children in the Czech Republic. Can you imagine these kinds of comments on a normal BBC Have Your Say discussion, or on the Mail message boards?
The prejudices against the Roma and other gypsies throughout Europe really show the seamy side of the "high-minded" European liberal culture, alongside other race-related issues. I live in Switzerland, where the situation is similar, and the Roma are the whipping-boys of the popular media, and the politicians. It is not much better than the caste system in my country India, although there one has been seeing progress over the last few decades. Here in Europe, no one is interested. They are happy to brand an entire community as thieves and worse, and go on marginalising it, preventing it from bettering its lot. I see very little hope in the future, because deep down inside, Europeans really have a hard time letting go of their xenophobic tendencies.
I've been living in Prague for two years where as a teacher I talk to Czechs every day. In two years I have had one Roma student- that in itself was a surprise. In my experience nearly all Czechs strongly dislike the Roma - what is very worrying is that Czechs pass the hate onto their kids. It is a big problem. The Roma are certainly not innocent, lots of Czechs have horror stories of how their children were attacked by groups of young Roma men. Both sides are two blame but neither are willing to make concessions. With such prevailing attitudes it is difficult to see a solution.
The problem with the Roma community seems widespread in Europe and not only in the Czech Republic. I am a Czech citizen and am lucky to have grown up abroad without any programmed stigma against the Roma. Racism or xenophobia? Maybe, but I see it as well from both sides. I am mixed race and with Arab origins (in looks as well) however, I have never faced any trouble in my stay in my country. I really hope that this stigma will disappear, however it's hard when I see even the young generation automatically programmed to be wary of the Roma community. On the other side, the Roma has managed as well to use the "victim song" as mentioned in the article allowing them to play on the senses of others. Several generations are needed to minimise the pain. I try to look elsewhere, and I can see countries downplaying their experiences with the Roma in Europe.
Farouk Mogheth, Prague
I am genuinely thrilled that this decision has been made. Living in Moscow, I see first-hand the discrimination the Roma endure here. It makes me sick. But I do not expect the changes to occur quickly. Doing it quickly would only lead to chaos and years of back-tracking later on. You have to get a new generation of teachers in there who have been educated with a different philosophy. This means you also need to replace your educators. Secondly, many Roma do not want their children mixing with "white" children. Others forbid contact with outside cultures. This is something the EU is going to have to overcome in order to really help the Roma. But I don't think it will be overcome easily. Europeans tend to think negatively of the Roma and the Roma are inclined to resent and avoid Europeans. These long-standing positions will be as hard to break down as they are in the US when it comes to African Americans. We are still dealing with racism and reverse-racism. It is an impossible cycle.
And then there's this:
It's not much different in the UK - the general population still vilifies and scapegoats the gypsy/traveller communities in Britain.
Where are the millions of comments saying 'they're vermin' from the usual suspects? Is this a first in internet news - a reasonable debate about immigration or race?
Also there's this from one of the participants in the BBC debate:
Jim Goldston writes: A number of the comments illustrate stereotypes of Roma Education and Roma in general. A number of the comments refer to Roma committing crime - there is little to no data to ground these beliefs. One thing the judgment said was that governments need to provide quality education to all and gathering data on ethnic groups is part of the way to deliver this.
Interesting. It's worth pointing out that even those with negative views about Roma are articulate and put across their points well, without resorting to 'vermin' or 'scum', which would be completely acceptable elsewhere. As well as that, the European correspondents put a lot of British messageboard writers to shame, not just with their grammar, syntax and spelling.
Anyway, I'm off to listen to the programme now. I'm sure this kind of thing won't last: reasonable, intelligent debate about immigration and race is surely just a passing trend...