Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Minority Rights

In spite of the tragic recent record of inhumanity toward minorities, there are signs of progress being made around the world. Ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, the destruction of indigenous Indian tribes in South America and the slaughter of Tutsis and Hutus are terrible echoes of a less tolerant world. The story is not all grim however. Apartheid in South Africa has been dismantled, Catholics in Northern Ireland are less discriminated against, and the Kurds of Iraq are beginning to experience self determination. Hungary has also thrown its weight behind tolerance with its Rights of National and Ethnic Minorities Act. In the spirit of this emerging tolerance for the long-abused, a new ethnic group has stepped forward to defend its rights.

On the surface, it might be a bit difficult to feel sorry for the Huns. After all, these people were not exactly ideal next door neighbours. In the space of a few hundred years they frightened the Chinese enough to make them build the biggest garden wall in the history of the world. Having scared the hell out of the folks living on one side of the property, they decided to make life miserable for the rest of the neighbours. Not content with ruining the real estate market in much of what is now Russia, they drove the Ostragoths and Visigoths out of Eastern Europe, attacked the Eastern and Western Roman Empires, invaded Germany and France and had a swipe at Northern Italy as well. Their greatest leader, Attila, was known as the ‘Scourge of God’ and, except for other Huns, no one much liked him. His reputation for ferocity, carnage, slaughter and not having a sense of humour was famous from Beijing to Paris. Even today, some 1,600 years later, very few parents hope that their kids will grow up to be Huns.

In the face of this institutional racism, Mr Gyorgy Kisfaludy has filed an application for ethnic minority rights for Huns. According to Hungarian law, in order to gain ethnic recognition a group has to prove that it has lived in Hungary for more than 100 years and have 1,000 signatures on its petition. Since the Huns showed up over 1,000 years ago to burn Hungary to the ground, the first part is taken care of. As to the signatures, nearly 2,500 people have claimed to be Huns. But Mr Kisfaludy told reporters that as many as 100,000 Huns currently live in Hungary and beyond its borders. Americans may wish to confirm their hotel reservations and the fact that Munich is still there before the big family vacation in Europe this summer.

No doubt there is another persecuted minority that is closely watching the possible recognition of the rights of Huns. After all, if a group of bloodthirsty, thieving barbarians deserve respect and protection, there might be a chance for lawyers. If lawyers had been retained by the Roman Empire there might have been signs on the walls of Budapest saying ‘Warning: Huns Approaching These Walls Are Closer Than They Appear’. If Shyster & Tort had been on the case, the Visigoths could have filed a class action suit and settled for half of Rumania and the French Riviera (minus Cannes and Monaco as the contingency fee). If the legal professionals had not been treated like a bunch of chariot chasers, Western civilisation might have been spared the worst of the Hunnic invasions.

There is some reason for lawyers to be more optimistic about gaining protected minority status than Mr Kisafuldy and his blood curdling Huns. Marginally more parents actually want their kids to grow up to be lawyers.


Anonymous kitty teltscher said...

Very, very funny!

Now see if you can make us laugh about the new Pope. His nickname is 'Rotweiler', his politics are to the right of Attila the Hun and just for good measure, he was a member of the Hitler Jugend!

Love, Kitty

5:05 AM  
Anonymous habitatgirl said...

Good article. Now, get to work on Kitty's challenge!

4:41 PM  
Blogger birdwoman said...

But if they have more than 100,000... are they still a minority?

and of course, this has brought the famous Mulan quote to my head "let's go kick us some Hunny-buns"

great post!

8:26 AM  
Blogger Tran Sient said...

That was hilarious. Would not Atilla have been brought up on War Crimes charges in the Hague as well?

10:20 PM  
Blogger Chipman said...

Clever and funny - nice blog.

2:30 AM  

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