Life among the Lowly

Only one god allowed at Duomo, gents

Journalist-cum-politican Magdi Cristiano Allam loves Italy, he tells us. The Egyptian-born Italian, who made a publicized conversion to Catholicism, seems quick to absorb Italian values — if rampant, no-holds-barred race baiting is an Italian value.  Going far beyond provocative and into offensive, his images of Muslims praying in Milan’s piazza Duomo, Chinese rioting against shop closings on via Sarpi, and of a Roma family on a riverbank near a resettlement camp with the legend NEVER AGAIN in Italian above them can be found all over Milan, especially near its Arab and Chinese neighborhoods.  I’m not sure, especially in the Chinese case, what the ‘never again’ refers to — cheap labor, goods, shops, and an entrepreneurial spirit and work ethic that the Italians seem to have left in the 1950s?

 

 

No more work on Sunday

Mere meters away from the Chinese consulate and from via Sarpi, the Chinese-themed posted shows up. On Corso Sempione, not far from the Egyptian quarter around viale Jenner, the Arab poster shows up. Roma wash windows nearby on via Procaccini. (The perverseness of ‘never again’ is especially offensive in the Roma case.)

The message is clear, and it’s not a tolerant one. The posters assure us that he loves Milan (presumably one in which immigrants make their contribution to the economy and then shut up and stay out of sight) and that he loves Italy (a monoethnic one with silent workers).

"Never again" and a Roma family

 

If an obvious nutjob like Allam were to be relegated to political sidelines, he would be easy to ignore.  But what is disturbing is that he is heartily endorsing incumbent Letizia Moratti in her bid for mayor. Moratti also has the hearty support of the prime minister. That such a mainstream candidate in the financial, industrial and supposed ‘moral’ capital of Italy (an old horse now picked up to flog by PdL, Berlusconi’s party) is anywhere but on the fringes along with the neo-Nazi Forza Nuova where he belongs is incredible. What if David Duke or Nick Griffin actively campaigned for Michael Bloomberg or Ken Livingston? (Such an analogue is, of course, happily unthinkable in Washington, DC.)

Back from where? Hajech is home to the prestigious art academy of Brera

But perhaps such sentiments are to be expected in a country where the Lega Nord is in the ruling coaltion, and where Gianfranco Fini is seen as a viable and sane alternative to Berlusconi or Bossi.

Until the opposition is able to do more than make commuting hell on Friday afternoons and mobilize a few columns of art school students to march around Duomo, who carry banners announcing that they are ‘back’ (I presume to the barricades, of which there were none) and nothing more, expect more of the same.

The promise of the Expo: a cosmopolitan Milan?

Further down the street, a series of flags of all nations put up for the Expo 2015 showcases Milan’s cosmpolitan nature and promises of worldliness.  At the end of one encounters Lega’s tent, where a woman curses the students as delinquents.  One wonders what her take on the flags and what they represent is.  Among them I note Egypt and Turkey.  I half expect Allam or the Lega’s next posters to show off this morning’s tragic crash off of Lampedusa, where another rickety boat spilled 500 migrants into the sea [update: 400 rescued].  That is truly something that should never happen again, but I think that point would be lost on Allam and his backers.

...not when the Lega's racists enjoy pride of place.

Perhaps they will next celebrate the death of Osama, if they are even that tuned into happenings beyond Italy’s borders.  With Lega’s 2009 Indian poster in mind and bizarre violence that it did to notions of race, hegmony and power in the West, one almost hopes that they are not.  Geronimo indeed.

BREAKING: The pope in Venice has told Catholics “not to fear others.” Given pious Veneto’s strong LN base, one hopes that this won’t fall on deaf ears. Maybe even Allam will listen.

 

This entry was posted in Bossi, Chinatown, Chinese, fini, gypsies, human rights, il cav, immigration, italy, lega nord, maroni, roma, the italian right, the right in europe, Via Sarpi and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Life among the Lowly

  1. Cynthia says:

    Magdi Allam is not a nutjob, obvious or otherwise. To compare him to Forza Nuova is positively bizarre and grossly unfair.

    While I don’t always agree with Allam (I’m not religious at all), he has my respect and the respect of very many “mainstream” Italians, as evinced by his long-term, distinguished career as a journalist for La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera.

    You also seem to have absorbed the values of certain Italians, namely “buonismo.” In your post you fail to distinguish between legal and illegal immigration. Also your praise of many Chinese in Italy (and not only Italy) and their “work ethic” and “cheap goods” is misguided. These goods are often inferior to the point of uselessness or even dangerousness, and are cheap because produced in sweatshops in appalling conditions.

    • HNB says:

      I’m not sure when you last checked in with Magdi Allam and what he has become. You will find him writing for il Giornale far more than Repubblica or Corriere these days. At any rate, look for an post address the issues you raise soon.

  2. vidgro says:

    Cynthia:

    Whether he’s a ‘nutjob’ or not his posters nevertheless contain themes that wouldn’t look out of place on a Forza Nuova poster (or BNP or Fronte Nazionale, etc).

    “You also seem to have absorbed the values of certain Italians, namely “buonismo.””

    Whilst ‘buonismo’ is often patronising and irritating, racism and fascism are far more dangerous. But anyway, what is it about the author that makes you accuse him of buonismo? And how did you rise above it yourself?

    “In your post you fail to distinguish between legal and illegal immigration.”

    Who cares? The immigrants are still immigrants. The lables are a form of divide and rule.

    “Also your praise of many Chinese in Italy (and not only Italy) and their “work ethic” and “cheap goods” is misguided. These goods are often inferior to the point of uselessness or even dangerousness, and are cheap because produced in sweatshops in appalling conditions.”

    That’s what they used to say in the UK in the fifties about Italian goods. Actually, that’s not far from the truth even now. The workplace death and injury toll for Italians is also quite high, isn’t it? And Italian goods, with some excellent exceptions, are also amongst the shoddiest in Europe.

  3. Cynthia says:

    Yes, you’d do well to address these important issues at greater length.

    Allam has had a long and distinguished career; like most talented journalists, he has written for various publications. His long relationship with the two major Italian papers would practically exclude that he is a crank, at least by Italian standards. He was at one time the number two man at the Corriere (I’m not sure if he’s still there).

    Vidgro:

    “Who cares? The immigrants are still immigrants. The lables are a form of divide and rule.”

    Who cares? I care, and millions of others. What part of the rule of law don’t you understand? Anyone who thinks this way is so far off track that it’s not worth responding at any length.

    • vidgro says:

      Cynthia: “Yes, you’d do well to address these important issues at greater length.”

      Why?

      “His long relationship with the two major Italian papers would practically exclude that he is a crank”

      Two words: “Fede” and “Emilio”.

      But actually, I’m not keen on dismissing people I don’t agree with as cranks. It’s too simplistic. Sure, I do it myself because it’s convenient but it isn’t good. Which isn’t to say that he is or isn’t a crank but it hides the fact that a lot of people who aren’t cranks can come up with all sorts of racist and reactionary ideas. I don’t think one can say that because a journalist is respected that he is always credible. Until recently Gheddafi was a “respected” statesman (by other “respected” statesmen such as Bush and Blair). I’m sure you see the point I’m trying to make. No-one is above criticism…

      “at least by Italian standards.”

      I’m not sure what you mean by this. What are Italian standards of crankiness?

      “What part of the rule of law don’t you understand?”

      I understand that the rule of law rarely applies to the rich and powerful. I understand that it is impossible to be ‘in regola’ in Italy 100 percent because there are too many laws that contradict one another. I understand that the law is applied selectively and disproportionately according to the prejudices of the people who are meant to uphold and implement the law. I understand that Italy is constantly breaking EU laws. I understand that Italy took part in illegal wars that created refugees who tried to come to Italy. I understand that Italy supported dictators in north Africa who caused many of their people to try to flee to Italy. The definition of legal and illegal is very ambiguous as is much of the rule of law in Italy. I don’t actually see much rule of law here.

      “Anyone who thinks this way is so far off track that it’s not worth responding at any length.”

      And which branch of philosophy are you following with this line? The Book of Ostrich?

      What if no-one challenged the rule of law? Rosa Parks or the Suffragettes, for example, or the leaders of the American Revolution or Nelson Mandela?

  4. HNB says:

    I’ve addressed the problem of Allam in another post. I think you would be quite surprised, as many thinkers and journalists (including his friend Gad Lerner) have been at his swing to the right in the last eight years. Allam has a vision of a multi-ethnic Italy — but it’s one in which migrants conform to the culture of Saints Augustine and Ambrosius, as another poster of his makes clear.

    That European countries struggle to find an identity to pass on to generations descended from immigrants is not wholly Madgi’s fault, but he has joined a class of Italian politicians who exploit fear of the other for their own gain, which is what I believe Vidgro’s comment is getting at. Although illegal immigration is deplorable, the line that “we’re only against illegals” is often used by the Lega as a cover for a broader intolerance. That this intolerance has tangible effects is a sad reality. Increasing levels of open racism and violence have not gone unnoticed. (That said, Italy is probably more diverse than it ever was, and films and TV shows have started to reflect this – a good sign.)

    The reality is that the sloppiness of migration does not always translate well into the neatness of immigration law or policy. Immigration law is complex and often ambiguous, with officers often left on their own at the front of a long line at a visa window to interpret policy. Sometimes, it’s up to their discretion. Sometimes, they don’t know the law themselves. This is no excuse for criminality on the part of migrants but it is not as simple of a “rule of law” matter as you make out. As I’ve said, forcing the “legal vs. illegal” issue is often an excuse for policies that increase exclusion and marginalization.

    Immigration is unstoppable in both the old world and new. It is a test of a nation’s identity, culture and institutions whether it can withstand it. Italy has a strong culture, but a weak identity and weaker institutions — kept weak by design, with that weakness exploited by a ruling elite for their own gain very often.

    Integration is one area in which the multi-ethnic United States excels. To a degree post-colonial Britain and France have some sort of idea, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. The rest of Europe has none, and to watch them struggle with it is to see the things like the reactive rebirth of the Lega this decade or the “Fallacization” of Magdi Allam.

  5. Pingback: Osama, Mladic, Berlusconi: rough winds do shake | Premesso di Soggiorno

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