Blood libels we can believe in

If mamma, sir, sold the baby
To a gypsy for half a crown;
If a gentleman, sir, was a lady,—
The world would be Upside-down!

— “Topsy-Turvy World“, by William Brighty Rands (1823-82)

It’s fascinating how every new generation re-invents the old blood libels, in a form that seems plausible and worlds away from the old-fashioned superstitious hatreds. Just now Europe is experiencing a wave of gypsy baby abductions. No, sorry, we’re experiencing a wave of reports of Roma families having dishonestly come into possession of whiteness. In Italy (a few years ago), and this week in Greece and Ireland, we’ve seen authorities removing children from their families because of what seemed to some hobby eugenicists strange disparities between the skin colours of parents and children, whereas children normally have exactly the same skin colour as their parents.

The report in the Times (behind a paywall) was a veritable fount of racist conjecture. They constantly refer to the adults who have raised the child as her “parents” (their scare quotes), and her as their “daughter”. A “consultant” at a hospital “told detectives it would be unusual for Roma parents to have a blonde-haired child.” Well, thank you for that expert opinion!

Why would poor parents with multiple children of their own be abducting children anyway? They quote the head of the “Smile of the Child” “charity” with another expert opinion:

Maria may have been abducted because of her striking blonde hair so she could be used to beg in the streets.

Of course! What else would they do with them? Weirdly, the article then proceeds to report that

In July 2011, more than a dozen people were arrested for arranging for pregnant Bulgarian Roma women to give birth in Greece and then sell their babies for illegal adoption.

The careful reader will note that this example — the only actual case of child abduction, or something like it, that they can find involving Roma — it was Roma children being illegally adopted by middle-class white Europeans.

In the end, it’s turned out that the families were all telling the truth. The Irish child is the biological child of her mother. The Greek child was left with the parents by the biological mother — also Roma, so the mysteriously Arian appearance is still unexplained — who left for Bulgaria and couldn’t afford to take the baby with her. She’s said she would like to have her daughter back, but one suspects that the transfer from one poor Roma family to another would warm the hearts of the public longing to see the child returned to the bosom of the white race.

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