X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

Please note: Previously subscribers used a 'WebID' to log into the website. Your subscriber number is not the same as the WebID. Please ensure you use the subscriber number when you link your subscription.

Blogs

Blonde children and Roma: when the two great hysterias of our age clash

23 October 2013

3:57 PM

23 October 2013

3:57 PM

The media seem to be in a pickle over the removal of a blonde girl from a Roma family in Dublin, which followed the arrest of a couple in Athens who had a suspiciously Nordic-looking child with them.

It’s a fascinating story because for the first time I can remember the two great hysterias of our age have finally clashed – racism and child-snatching, the Guardian’s obsession versus the Sun’s.

It has also pitted the almost immovable object of media taboo against the unstoppable force of the human-interest story. The highbrow media maintains a sort of code of decency about reporting the Roma, so that you will never read anywhere an accurate analysis of anti-Roma prejudice. I don’t think this actually sways anyone, because you’d have to be a total cretin not to see the causes, rather it informs the official opinion people are supposed to have in public.

[Alt-Text]


However ‘missing child turns up alive’ is the most powerful story of all time and nothing will keep it off the homepage. It goes back to the Bible and the Greeks and early-modern European fairy tales, and it’s a narrative still poignant because of the children who are missing today, such as Madeleine McCann.

Perhaps because of the BBC’s remit to promote multiculturalism, their coverage of the affair has seemed highly editorialised towards informing the public that Roma are not going around snatching children, rather than just reporting a story. And as it is, it strikes me as extremely unlikely that there is any sort of trend here, and the Dublin family may well be innocent victims of circumstances.

But neither does that mean there is some campaign against the Roma, or that the Gardai should be blamed for their actions. Roma tend to have a lot of informal family adoption but they rarely adopt non-Roma and, knowing this, someone in Greece understandably got suspicious and then someone in Ireland did.

Contrary to the media cant, this doesn’t suggest that in Europe we treat blonde children better and want to snatch them away from swarthy parents. We just live in a society where it’s impolite to notice social patterns, yet one where it’s the police’s job to look out for them; to hone all those evolution-bred skills to notice when something doesn’t quite fit, like the wrong person in the wrong place or a child with someone very unlikely to be her birth or adoptive parents. So pity the poor policeman who has to traverse between the Scylla of race relations and the Charybdis of child-snatching hysteria.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.


Show comments
Close