Comment dit-on en français, "Don't let the door hitcha where the good Lord splitcha"?
Parisian students and human rights groups are protesting the expulsion of an immigrant student from France to Kosovo. Mainstream reports gloss over some details, save them till the end, or just don't report them at all. But good old Al Jazeera America tells it like it is in their article. Turns out she's not just any old immigrant, but a Gypsy whose family of a father and six children were in France illegally.
But what I really wanted to know was -- where did this take place? What happened to "where" in the list of the 5 W's? You hear about black immigrants burning cars in the banlieues of Paris fairly often, with none of the criminals getting shipped back to Africa. Something must be different about wherever this recent event took place.
Of the handful of articles I read, only the Al Jazeera one told me -- Levier, in the Franche-Comté region of eastern France. That part of the country is situated in the Jura mountains along the Swiss border. Even today the local economy reflects its pastoralist roots, with a majority of "agriculture" in the region being devoted to dairy (38%) and cattle farming (17%).
Other hot-spots of mass deportations of the Gypsies during the past several years are Lyon and Grenoble, which lie in the southeastern area dominated by the Alps. I don't think that's only a matter of where the Gypsies have set up camp, as the Northern Plain city of Lille shipped a bunch of them back as well. The lowlanders just don't seem as motivated or enthusiastic as the highlanders to purge the body of parasites.
(You see the same difference in America between lowland east Texas, around Houston, and highland Arizona -- both hit hard by massive Mexican immigration, but the former tolerating it and the latter pushing back.)
I touched on this theme in an earlier post about the (agro-)pastoralist peoples of Europe kicking out the Jews a long, long time ago, while the intensive agriculturalists put up with them for the most part, aside from a pogrom every 200 years or so. In Europe topography is a strong predictor of subsistence mode, with seed-scatterers squatting on the fertile lowland plains, and livestock herders grazing their animals on pastures in the hills and mountains. So Jews wound up as a middleman minority class primarily in the Great European Plain.
Could something similar be going on with Gypsies? You don't really find them on the hilly/mountain side of the civilizational fault-line in Europe (map here). It's true that you don't really find them in northern part of the Great Plain, like Poland or Lithuania, but that's probably because of the role of the Ottoman Empire. An earlier post tossed out the idea that the forced multiculturalism of the Ottoman Empire selected for cultural and genetic traits in Gypsies that adapted them to parasitism of the host society, whose rabble were not allowed to respond -- under threat from the Ottoman elite. Civil unrest would only disrupt tax flows, so don't any of you make waves.
Within the area formerly dominated or threatened by the Ottoman Empire, though, I think there is an effect of topography on how entrenched the Gypsies are. If you look at maps of Roma in Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary (their main countries of concentration), they do seem to prefer plains to mountains, though by how much is hard to say from eye-balling. It's not as obvious as the Jewish case, where they all poured into the plains, and hardly settled at all in the mountains. At least, Gypsies prefer those countries in Central/Southeastern Europe that have some amount of lowlands, and shy away from more strictly mountainous places like Bosnia, Serbia, Albania, Montenegro, and so on.
In fact, we can make the prediction that they will never thrive in the Balkan mountains as they would in the Polish and Lithuanian plains, assuming they ever migrate up there in large numbers to test it out. After they get enough doors slammed in their face in hilly/mountain Western Europe, I'm sure they'll settle for second-best and hit up Northeastern Europe. Or, shoot, if they can handle cold weather, watch them abuse the asylum system of socialist Scandinavia and take the Nords for a ride.
If there is some effect of highland living on resistance to Gypsy colonization, that would show that such people are robust in general against foreign invaders. It wouldn't matter whether it was an affluent bureaucratic class like the Jews or a criminal underclass like the Gypsies -- both groups would, in their own appropriate way, get the message of "You don't gotta go home, butcha can't stay here." We gave you a chance before we knew you very well, and you either betrayed our trust or wore out your welcome, so hospitality time is over.
Most people who complain about the backward, violent, vengeful side of the Culture of Honor, as contrasted with the progressive, peaceful, neutral-third-party side of the Culture of Law, overlook honor's twin -- hospitality. Honor means, you fuck me, I fuck you ten times harder back. But hospitality means, you host me, I'll host you ten times as lavishly next time around. The Culture of Honor is therefore really a Culture of Reciprocity, only one-half of which is "an eye for an eye." Guided by a framework of hospitality, pastoralist peoples can expel an immigrant group for having worn out its welcome.
But the Culture of Law says that, however the laws get made, we all have to respect them and can't take the law into our own hands. So if the official policy is to welcome the poor, tired, huddled masses -- even criminal underclass Gypsies -- welp, guess we just have to go along with it, whether we like it or not. It's not our place to deport a parasitic or predatory group, however much we might want to -- that's for the lawmakers and their neutral, distant enforcers to take care of.
The French solution has been to say, "Screw the law, get this scum outta here." Use whatever legalistic pretext you have to in order to appease the Culture of Law weenies, but make it clear to the Gypsy squatters that it's really a matter of them having worn out their welcome as guests, and don't come back unless you want trouble. Find some other place to parasitize where they won't push back. And Gypsies are no fools -- they know that their parasitism relies on tricking the host into thinking they're poor unfortunate guests in need of sanctuary. Once the jig is up, might as well move on -- not like they have an army to take the host society on.
France gets a lot of shit from the more rambunctious parts of the Anglo-Celtic world, but they're only partly a bureaucratic, legalistic culture. Good thing they have those highland regions to inject some honor-and-hospitality thinking back into their national discourse. Come to think of it, the Germanic migrations didn't leave much of a genetic footprint in the southern direction, so I wouldn't be surprised if the people from Levier or Lyon or Grenoble are old-school Celtic hillbillies. They're friendly if you're friendly first, but if they can tell you're a parasite, they'll run you out of town. Although I'm not sure if they have banjo-pickin' getaway music to play on the car stereo in Lyon...