Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What They Don't Tell You

We at the Egg have been alternately chilled and heartwarmed by the news from Belfast this week.

Chilled, because the BBC has reported that more than 100 Romanians living in Ireland have been harassed and threatened in a series of escalating attacks, some of them accompanied by the usual symbolism of racist thuggery -- swastikas and so forth.

Warmed, because many of those frightened, vulnerable Romanians have been given shelter in a local church, and are now en route to temporary lodging in a college dormitory.

Two points, however, are not made clear in all the news reports:

First, that the Romanians in question belong to one particular ethnic group -- the Roma, or Gypsies. (It's in the article linked above, but was most certainly not in the radio report we heard last night). This is significant. The Roma are surely among Europe's most abused peoples, surpassed (if they are surpassed) only by the Jews. Like Jews, the Roma suffered under Hitler; anywhere from a quarter to half of of them were killed. It may be that the press avoids mentioning the ethnicity of the Belfast victims from a misplaced sense of political correctness, but it is in fact an important part of the story. (Imagine reporting the attack on Mumbai without mentioning its anti-semitic aspects.)

Second, that the church in which the displaced Roma found refuge has an identity as well. The press speaks warmly of "Pastor Malcolm Morgan and his team," but seems loathe to say much more about that team. It took some googling to discover that Morgan serves City Church, Belfast. So far as we can tell from its website, City Church is an Evangelical congregation with no specific denominational affiliation. It doesn't seem like an especially large operation. Their YouTube newsletter seems a little earnest, but sweetly so.

But here's the part that matters: City Church jumped in where the surely-more-numerous established churches of the city did not, to care for sojourner in their midst. We doff our birettas to them.

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