The Gypsies are Coming
Ask a roomful of Germans in this secluded town on the Czech border what will come now that the European Union has opened its doors to the East, and they answer, almost in unison, “The Gypsies will come.”
The Gypsies in question are a ragged settlement of 20,000 people, about 20 kilometers, or 12 miles, southeast of here, in the Czech city of Most.
The townspeople are convinced that these newly minted Europeans will assert their right to move freely within the Union by picking up stakes and crossing the German border. They foresee Gypsy caravans, with clanking pots and shoeless children, next to their well-kept backyards.
Even Europeans whose yards are half a continent away share an atavistic fear of the invading horde from the East. Last week, before the EU welcomed its 75 million new residents, tabloids in Britain published daily hyperventilating reports about the coming deluge.
While there has been a lot of attention of late paid to lingering European anti-Semitism, stories like this indicate that cultural parochialism goes far deeper than that. It is also quite clear that we’re a long way from a true European nationalism.