I do not know whether the Greek gypsy couple accused of abducting a girl called Maria are guilty, but I am surprised by how the media, even the politically correct outlets, have seized on the story, grabbing the pretext of Madeleine McCann. Why does it matter that Maria has blonde hair and blue eyes? If she had been abducted and had dark hair and brown eyes, would that have been less objectionable? Now a similar case has come up in Dublin.
Are news desks unaware that stories about gypsies stealing children are staples of mob-inciting propaganda, like accusations in Pakistan that Christians are flushing Korans down the lavatory? In eastern central Europe, hatred of gypsies is a major factor in political and social life. Since unrestricted immigration from the EU will make gypsies more common in Britain, this hatred will spread, especially if we fan it.
How one longed, as a child, to be abducted by the ‘raggle-taggle gypsies, O’. One would move round in horse-drawn caravans, and sit by campfires in the company of dusky, barefoot, ear-ringed girls in long skirts. Such operatic fantasies cannot be sustained when one looks at photographs of the accused gypsy couple. The man, Christos Salis, is wearing a sort of windcheater emblazoned with the words ‘JUST DO IT’. Just do what, poor man? One day, anthropologists will explain why words started to appear on clothing in the mid-to-late 20th century. The words rarely refer directly to the wearer or his or her interests, beliefs or occupation. Yet they are not perfectly meaningless either. They express, in garbled form, the modern world’s blind obeisance to Anglophone culture.
This is an extract from Charles Moore’sSpectator’s Notes in this week’s magazine. Click here to read for free with a trial of The Spectator app for iPad and iPhone. You can also subscribe with a free trial on the Kindle Fire.