Reuters has a welcome article about the struggles of and xenophobia toward Roma populations in Hungary. Unfortunately, the piece is titled “Roma a powderkeg in Hungary as crisis deepens,” as if the Roma themselves are the ones to incite the hatred and prejudices they are subjected to. The article itself is not too bad, though I would rather it describe Roma as “intentionally excluded” from many jobs than as simply “unwelcome,” a seeming watering-down of a malicious practice. But please, Reuters: the Roma themselves are not the “powderkeg;” that’s even worse than blaming xenophobia on the economic crisis. Prejudice lies in the aggressors, not its victims, and it’s disgusting to imply otherwise.
As far as I understand it, the latest neo-Cold War spat basically boils down to this: the United States, claiming the need to defend its allies against attacks from “rogue states” (and also probably not uninterested in flexing its muscles in Russia’s sensitive backyard) plans to set up a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. Putin Medvedev gets pissed, and threatens — the day after the election, of course — to deploy missiles in Kaliningrad, on its archaic little island of eastern European territory. Now he says he’ll withdraw Russia’s missile plans if Obama pledges to abandon the missile defense plan.
I’m not sure which is sillier: the decision to install missiles in response to an anti-missile system, or the provocation of constructing said anti-missile system before there are missiles to be “anti-ed.” This is an oversimplication, of course, but it’s also a nice illustration of the cyclical inanity of heated rearmament — and the heated argument that inevitably accompanies it.
UPDATE: Neil Leslie at The New Atlanticist blog says that both sides are totally overreacting.
(image from flickr user openDemocracy under a Creative Commons license)