Just a taste of what happens when elected representatives start fuelling anti-immigrant hysteria….. A masked group, armed with sticks rampaged around a district of Rome, smashing up shops owned by Indians and Bangladeshis and disappearing before the police arrived.
The assault comes as Silvio Berlusconi’s administration launches a crackdown on illegal immigration, and days after a mob firebombed Gypsy camps in Naples. Last month crowds at Rome’s town hall welcomed newly-elected mayor Gianni Alemanno with fascist salutes..
(With my limited understanding of Italian, I translate that as “German Johnny”, a mite ironic to be the name of an Italian neo-fascist. )
Here’s a link to that story, with a disturbing picture and some pretty disturbing content. For instance Berlusconi reportedly greeted this unpleasant manifestation with the claim “We are the new falange”
As I mentioned recently, anti-gypsy feeling is so extreme in parts of Italy, that the church associated with St Francis of Assisi hired armed guards to keep gypsies away.
Tobia Jones, in a 2 may Guardian article suggested that the apparent re-emergent fascism was mainly a presentation issue and made possible by well-meaning attempts to bring together the still-warring Italian left and right. And, and according to Jones, Berlusconi is just a populist “bread and circuses” magnate, allegedly. (Together with Jones’ references to the “Italian character,” it looks like an almost “‘Allo,’allo”- level of resort to national stereotypes.)
I hope it is just my own unfounded pessimism. Maybe fascists salutes and shouts of “Il Duce!” aren’t really as terrifying as they seem. But I am left thinking “Control of mass media, populist appeal, use of emotionally charged nationalist motifs, and a convenient ethnically-different scapegoat sub-population? Sounds as close to fascism as dammit to me.”