Those who refuse to learn from history

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.”

4 thoughts on “Those who refuse to learn from history

  1. (Pedant)Actually while the Italian for ‘Germany’ is ‘Germania’, the word for ‘German’ is ‘Tedesco’. You may be confused with Spanish Alemán.(/Pedant) It’s one of those strange things that various European countries have wildly different names for Tyskland, NÄ›mecko, Saksa, Deutschland.

    Incidentally if you want to get your xenophobia in well organised chunks, I’ve found you click on a profile on BBC’s Have Your Say to browse gibbering idiocy on one convenient page. e.g. There’s even an RSS feed. Joy!

  2. Alun

    About the pedantry, I was basing my false assumption on it being pretty much the name for German as used in French, Portuguese and Spanish.

    BBCwebsite comments can be depressing enough , anyway, but that news forum really does manage to present idiocy in handy bite-sized chunks. I hope there’s not going to be a new GCSE in it.

  3. Italians need to look at their facist past and remember those horrid times before starting any reinactment

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