- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 6, 2010


The article about Hungary’s Fidesz party (“Gypsies fear violence after election,” Geopolitics, Monday) makes for a compelling story, as it tells of the very real drama of the Roma (Gypsy) community being pitted against an emerging right wing. Unfortunately, the reporting itself - as does most reporting in Hungary and the international media - focuses obsessively on criminality and sensationalist racism.

It is high time to take the Roma more seriously and not think of them as just helpless victims. Roma have a very stratified community that includes highly skilled and able persons who are quite capable of advancement. The article practically presents the victorious Fidesz party as polite Nazis when it comes to dealing with the Roma, and this is a characterization that unfairly links it to the theatrical and extremist Jobbik party.

The article also fails to mention that there are a number of private initiatives under way in Hungary that seek to improve and elevate the standard of living of all Hungarians. At the forefront of these is the Senior Mentor Program, which engages retired seniors to help improve the reading skills of school-age children, as well a number of other successful community interventions that either target or could be expanded to target the Roma community with modest financial investments.

At the root of the problem is the grinding poverty of a large segment of that community, and the most urgent need is a strategy of job creation in the most challenged geographic areas, such as northeastern Hungary. Regrettably, these and other worthy initiatives make poor headlines.


Editor, Hungarian American Coalition News


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