Taking a critical look at pictures that we assume are self-evident and true is not a challenge that we normally face. Nevertheless, the first step in the process of recognising genuine equality of rights involves finding out how representations of groups of people marked by some form of discrimination were historically produced and then reflecting on how many implicit prejudices are involved in them. Unless an effort is made to eliminate the presuppositions held by the social majority about what these “others” are like, legislation will make no difference. This is of course an uncomfortable task, because it brings us brought face to face with how far we are prepared to go to live in a society that is inclusive and just, and also a complicated one, because the objectives are not always obvious, even in the fight against discrimination. A case in point is the marked hierarchization of victims shown in the history of the way the Allied countries came to terms with the horror of the massive violence perpetrated under Nazism after the Second World War was over. A picture may help us penetrate the cultural underpinnings of our political attitudes. Sigue leyendo
Sometimes, the most “innocent” images are the most dangerous.
Confirmation of this statement can be found in the children’s stories that have for many years employed characters taken from the world of the gypsies in order to indoctrinate children and teach them obedience. During the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries, some of the teaching designed to inculcate the values of the official culture and promote family discipline was carried out through stories in which rebellious children—those who dared to disobey their parents and leave their comfortable homes—frequently ended up being stolen by bands of gypsies and vanishing into thin air.
These kidnappers, described as living on the fringes of civilized society, represented all the evils of barbarism—pagan, immoral, uncouth and criminal—in contrast to the alleged virtues of the national culture. Heading the long list of illegal actions attributed to gypsies in these stories, that of child stealing is a hackneyed theme that appears over and over again in European children’s literature. Sigue leyendo