Outrage over Gypsyfest

"You can’t use a word that belongs to us."

“World punk” band Quel Bordel — host of Gypsyfest at Deanza Springs Resort, a nudist colony in Jacumba Hot Springs.
  • “World punk” band Quel Bordel — host of Gypsyfest at Deanza Springs Resort, a nudist colony in Jacumba Hot Springs.

From Plane to Powder

In response to “Why Aren’t There Any Plane Parts?”, the answer is because the plane was flown into the Pentagon at over 600 miles per hour. I was in naval aviation as an air framer and know a little bit about it.

The Pentagon was built pretty dang thick. Just Google “containment dome tests for nuclear power plants” and watch what happens to an airplane that’s flown at 600 miles per hour into concrete — it vaporizes into aluminum powder.

  • John
  • via voicemail

What Has Changed?

The article about the local 9/11 hijackers was interesting and seems to have dragged a lot of conspiracy comments. This is a recent incident that hopefully is not related, yet is illustrative of our “improved” security.

In May of 2015, a nice man from Saudi Arabia moved into the apartment next door to me. He was studying, and in the military — his family came over for the summer. Then they left and someone took over the lease period.

Well, a lot of young “students” moved in, and lots of their friends came to visit. I had conversations with some, had tea and snacks with others, and asked them to be quieter at 3 a.m. a couple of times. Some were conversant while others walked the sidewalk yelling into their cell phones. Never knew how many actually lived there. They dispersed as they moved out, some said Irvine. Then a quiet Russian man moved in.

About two months later, I hear hard knocking on the door. I walked over to see what the ruckus was. It was two Department of Homeland Security agents. Badges were flashed and they asked me who lived there, showing me a photo of one of the young Saudis. I told them what little I knew and sent them to the manager.

I recalled 9/11 at that time, and wondered if I should have called them before. Whatever was going on, I know I did not issue them VISAs, the federal government did! So, what has changed in 15 years?

  • Name withheld
  • Clairemont

Redskins Fest? Whoa.

There are several things that offend Roma (the ethnic group often called “Gypsies”) about the upcoming Gypsyfest, featured in your recent article — apparently not a satire.

Imagine an American Indian festival organized exclusively by WASPs, and imagine that the festival had no connection to Native American arts, culture, or history, but instead was focused on the most ridiculous stereotypes and featured “injun music” performed exclusively by WASP punk rockers. Now imagine that it’s called Redskins Fest.

Roma is an ethnic group who has faced slavery, the Holocaust, and segregation. The countries with the largest Roma communities continue even today to put Roma children in segregated educational settings and to otherwise violate civil rights. The word “Gypsy” has many meanings and nearly all are examples of bigotry.

The Romani are not defined by a lifestyle — not free spirits, clowns, beggars, thieves, nomads, or hippies. Nobody affiliated in any way with Gypsyfest is Romani — not the organizers, not the performers, not those making the profits. No Romani scholars or nonprofits have been asked to prepare educational material to be made available at this event.

Your article claims that the “theme of the festival will be gypsy music” and then lists the bands performing as specializing in Americana, Irish punk, and several other styles than have nothing to do with Roma.

Roma hopes that everyone at the festival will have a nice time, and that the organizers will make a fortune. We only ask not to be the butt of these bigots’ jokes in the future. Call it FolkFest, or MinstrelShowFest, or AppropriationFest and leave us alone.

  • Jud Nirenberg
  • Author, Johann Trollmann and Romani Resistance to the Nazis

Like the N-Word

Gypsyfest — the subject of a recent article in the Reader — is offensive, ignorant, and appropriative. The festival re-inscribes the pejorative, xenophobic misnomer “gypsy” — a term first used to incorrectly identify

Romani people as originating from Egypt, thus erasing the Romani people’s true South Asian origins. Over centuries the term has taken on derogatory connotations, and can be compared to other racially charged words like the N-word.

The article that appeared in your publication makes no mention of the problematic nature of “Gypsyfest.” And in so doing, dangerously, albeit ignorantly, perpetuates racist stereotypes and terminology. To make matters worst the purported “Gypsyfest” has no connection to members of the Romani community; it capitalizes on an essentialized stereotype and the commodification of a culture divorced entirely from the ethnic group to whom that culture belongs.

The Roma community implores you to run a follow-up story educating your readership about the Romani diaspora, persecution of the Romani people during the Holocaust and ongoing anti-Roma sentiment. Such an article would be timely considering that August 2 marks the Roma Genocide

Remembrance Day. I, and the rest of the Romani community, look forward to reading that article.

  • Ioanida Costache
  • Stanford

Spitting on the Grave

Where are the Gypsies in your “Gypsyfest,” for which you don’t even have the decency to use a capital “G”?

How are you deciding to call Bandapart and Quel Bordel “sister gypsy bands” when they do not describe themselves as such, but rather as French variety, international, and world punk-style bands?

Do you know what a Gypsy is? Or that the vast majority of us find that word offensive? We are not a lifestyle. We take offense when you throw any old hodgepodge group together and refer to them as one of us.

You do not get to decide who or what is “Gypsy.” You can’t use a word that belongs to us, to describe something that has nothing to do with us.

Whether putting together this festival or writing this article about this festival, in either case I have never seen such an ignorant body of work, ever. While our people in Europe are dying from police violence, suffering from apartheid school systems, forced sterilization of women, and less-than-fair access to the labor market in a political/economic environment which sees many parallels to the 1930s, your promotion of this festival is spitting on the grave of all those we remembered this week during the 72nd anniversary for the International Remembrance of the Romani Holocaust. On August 2, 1944 over two thousand Romani people were executed on one night in Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Are you trying to attract negative attention, any press is good press, so that neo-Nazis across Europe celebrate that such a festival as yours exists? Has San Diego gone Trump? Regardless, ignorance is no excuse.

I hope everyone at the festival has fun, and that everyone enjoys the music, but it is totally irresponsible to choose such a name for this festival, and reporting about it without taking any consideration about the impact of your words is even worse. Please report responsibly in the future about Romani-Gypsy people, and don’t call something Gypsy if it really isn’t, because it hurts us.

You are affecting ten million of us in Europe, and another two million of us in the U.S. and Canada. I hope the venue organizers and musicians are more talented than the public relations people.

If you ever do decide to put on a festival with Romani music, real Gypsy music, I would be very happy to point you in the direction of dozens of talented musicians who would be happy to play for a San Diego crowd.

  • Bill Bila
  • President of La Voix des Rroms, a grass-roots Romani NGO based in France fighting for civil rights

Raping Our Land

I’m calling about the jacaranda tree that was cut down by mistake. I just wanted to empathize with the person who owns that home. She probably relied on that tree for natural beauty, habitat, and shade. It’s very sad.

I have been watching over the North County/Encinitas area, and I have seen indiscriminate cutting of trees by mainly non-English-speaking Hispanic gardeners who really don’t care about the trees. All they care about is the job and the money.

Right now we are battling four trees being cut down on Second and Fourth Streets in Encinitas. We were able to stop them due to the fact that there were birds nesting. Any active nests in the tree of any species of bird and they cannot touch the tree. A five-gallon planter replacement does not replace a beautiful, towering 50- to 100-year-old tree that’s providing ample shade.

Everyone comes down to Second and Third Street to get out of the heat. They provide habitat. They’ve been here for years.

When newcomers come along and put in buildings and are able to apply for a random permit to cut a tree down, the community should have a voice in it. They are not posing any safety risk. It’s very lame that they would issue permits for the so-called safety risk.

If a tree is falling down, and it’s going to kill someone, I can imagine them being able to get a permit. But to just randomly rape our land of trees needs to be stopped. It needs to be illegal. The people that are in charge of making the decisions need to be removed.

  • Denise, “The Tree Hugger”
  • via voicemail

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