Tag Archives: immigration

Enoch Powell

Apropos of the histrionic tone towards immigration that Italy’s runoff elections took recently, it’s interesting to take a look at how the issue was approached in Britain 43 years ago by Enoch Powell, the conservative firebrand best remembered for his “rivers of blood” speech. James Walston has a good bit about this up in one of his posts this week, which I again encourage interested readers to peruse.

Older English readers will remember Enoch Powell’s “Rivers of blood” speech in which he used Virgil’s phrase (“the Tiber will flow with blood”) to threaten Britain with the consequences of immigration. It was a racist speech which cost Powell his career; Berlusconi and his supporters are using far more inflammatory language and few seem to mind.

The BBC has a fine documentary presentation up which you may watch in six parts on YouTube.


Duomo & Sarpi: stories behind images

In an effort to provide a little context for Magdi’s provocative posters, some reading from the archives in order to illuminate exactly what happened:

"What can be more excellent than prayer?"

The praying at piazza Duomo was connected to protests against the Gaza War and happened on January 3, 2009.  Organizers of the protests say that the prayer was spontaneous.  Coverage in the Washington Post is here.  There was no violence, and the Archibishop of Milan refused to condemn the prayers. As the Guardian reported, the Muslim community actually met with the archbishop and apologized for the prayers.

In the US, the first amendment to the constitution guarantees right to petition, or freedom of public assembly.  In Europe, it is guaranteed by article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, if one believes in the authority of European law.

The riots along via Sarpi on April 12, 2007 started when city authorities in Milan began applying fines to the many wholesalers who operated along the street.

Every tree and every blade of grass appears to be enemy soldiers

Milan’s administration has taken care of this issue recently by completely refurbishing the street, and making it pedestrian-only.  Without cars and vans, and with bikes replacing pushcarts, the neighborhood is much more livable now — but arguably one effect the improvements had was to make it more difficult for wholesalers there, who simply moved their operations to side streets.

Elisabeth Rosenthal and Elisabetta Povoledo reported on this for the New York Times, as did the BBC.

According to the story, the Chinese rallied around the flag for lack of a better symbol. Since some commentators have pointed out that laws in Italy are often unfairly applied, I wanted to highlight the penultimate paragraph:

Some experts say that the Chinese in Milan have been unfairly singled out by the authorities, and that the authorities have been considerably more lax with native Italians. When laws are enforced in such an inconsistent manner it becomes a case of discrimination, Lanzani said.

Inconsistent enforcement is at the heart of any debate about immigration anywhere, but above all in Italy, where networks of power flout the very laws they are supposed to abide by time and time again.


Friday AM Roundup

What’s great about Friday morning?  Having the Economist placed at your feet.  And even though this is a blog, sometimes it takes having the paper placed in your hands to do a good scan.

Tying together all the threads

Premesso’s not-quite week in review, drawn from the weekly of record:

1. On February 15, La Padania interviewed Pier Luigi Bersani, PD secretary.  (Shown elsewhere on this blog with his sleeves rolled up.)

Salient quote: Va anche bene che il governo rimanga nell’ambito del centrodestra. “It’s also all right if the government stays center-right.”

Is el Senatur sharpening the knife?

English language coverage.

2. As the holes in the immigration walls get harder to plug, shifting from Ceuta and Melilla to Lampedusa to the Greece-Turkey land border, Greece talks of suspending the Dublin Convention for asylum seekers.  The Economist’s Charlemagne comes out with the following sound idea: “A painful compromise might be tried: if Greece wants to suspend Dublin II, it should accept a temporary suspension of Schengen and the return of border controls.”  Me likey.

3. The Oscars: “this year’s awards are less relevant than ever.”  More need not be said, except that Hollywood need to keep looking to that export market.

4.  In Lexington, Obama’s handling of Egypt gets a look.  Much howling and gnashing of teeth from John Bolton, Niall Ferguson and Michael Scheuer, among others.  But maybe No-Drama Obama was the Decider?

Obama is said to have been more certain in private that Mr Mubarak’s jig was up than America’s public pronouncements (especially those of Hillary Clinton, his sometimes behind-message secretary of state) let on. He flatly rejected the Israelis’ analysis that the Egyptian president could hang on and that America should do everything to help him. Mr Obama’s conversation with Mr Mubarak on the evening of February 1st is said to have been the toughest between an American president and an ally since Ronald Reagan’s scolding of Menachem Begin during Israel’s bombing of Beirut in August 1982.

5. In Schumpter, the uneasy art-business axis is examined.  Damien Hirst is one shrewd businessman.

Damien Hirst was even more audacious. He not only realised that nouveau-riche collectors would pay extraordinary sums for dead cows and jewel-encrusted skulls. He upturned the art world by selling his work directly through Sotheby’s, an auction house. Whatever they think of his work, businesspeople cannot help admiring a man who parted art-lovers from £70.5m ($126.5m) on the day that Lehman Brothers collapsed.

And following in his footsteps in Venice, perhaps the Zero Group?  Stay tuned.

Thanksgiving Day post

You may be thinking of Ben Franklin as you dig into your turkey.  Recall — as a graffito artist in my neighborhood apparently has — that the founding father also noted, as many a revolutionary did, that “they that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”  And so witnessing the colossal flop of the anti-TSA “no-fly day” (and noticing also TSA at least playing nice for the press), I leave you with this somewhat revolutionary message from dance musician M.I.A.  (Is it over the top?  You might think so.  More than anything else it reminded me of the Dr. Seuss story the Sneetches.)

M.I.A, Born Free from ROMAIN-GAVRAS on Vimeo.

Violence at Cinecitta’ Station

"What if it was your mother? Your wife? Your sister?"

Nasty violence at Cinecitta’ station at the end of Rome’s Line A metro yesterday, in full daylight: after an argument in the line over whose turn it was, a 20-year old Roman struck a 32-year old Romanian nurse in the face. She went down and fractured her skull; he walked off and was later arrested. The security camera video up on the Corriere‘s website shows every detail, from the woman giving the man a push first to him calmly picking up his — ticket? — change? — off the ground, and then the extremely slow reaction time of the crowd. The man already had charges brought against him; for what the paper doesn’t say. I can’t but help thinking that national origin played a much larger role in this than age or gender. Would have he done the same to a 32-year old Italian? American? How much attention would this have gotten if it were Romanian-on-Romanian violence? One wonders.

Several years ago a Forza Nuova poster tried to stoke primitive fears with a provocative poster, intimating that the hordes from the east would be coming in to rape Italian women soon.  As we see, no nation necessarily has a premium on violence against women.

UPDATE: Life “hanging by a thread,” says Corriere.

Immigration is Not Zero-Sum

Elisabetta Burba had a story in this week’s Panorama on Italy’s Chinese population.  It’s really not bad writing in that it lists many success stories and is generally favorable.  It includes details I didn’t know, such as a quote from one expat Chinese saying that “the Filipinos will work under a boss, but we all want to have our own business, be our own boss” — something any red-blooded Italian should take heart with.  But before I get too giddy handing out the accolades, I should say that the print version includes maps of five different city streets and store-by-store diagrams indicating which businesses are foreign-owned.  This is an issue, especially when coupled with making note that the particular Chinese who come to Italy are called “China’s Jews.” Perhaps not intentional, but tasteless at best, as were the cover (see graphic) and at least part of the title (“We Were Evicted — We’ll Win” — why must someone lose, Chinese or Italian?).   Hard to find online, but here’s a terribly-formatted version. In Italian.

Be sure to click on the above link to read about Burba’s role in the run-up to the war in Iraq.

Swiss Intolerance

If you thought Lega Nord images stereotyping Southern Italians and immigrants were bad, check out this new poster against the opening of Swiss borders to Italian (and other European – presumably Romanian) workers. Given that hordes of Milanese commute to Ticino and vice versa and that, uh, Italian is one of Switzerland’s official languages, this point to paint the Italian as ‘other’ seems particularly desperate. Corriere has good coverage in English, although the article suffers a bit from some self-pity. One wonders if anti-immigration proponents reading this — particularly the bit at the end about American perceptions of Italians a century ago — will note the parallels.

But is the ship really sinking?

Svezia, inferno e paradiso

One expects political upheaval in Italy. After all, the country has had as many governments as Boliva since World War Two, and my primer on Italian politics had a photo of parliamentarians fist-fighting on the cover.

From the back cover, "Fisticuffs in the Italian Parliament"

But — Sweden? As Stephen Castle wrote in yesterday’s New York Times, Swedish politics are usually “worthy, high-minded and often utterly predictable, Swedish politics has rarely offered much by way of excitement” — pretty much the exact opposite of Italy’s opportunistic and treacherous circus, in other words. It’s certainly new to me — I’d have expected to hear more about the Netherlands, France or, if you want to look at the Scandinavians, Denmark — but inasmuch as it traces all the main themes common to the Italian debate — the future of the welfare state, the decline of industrial society, and rising immigration — I’ll be following it closely.

More on the Roma Debate

Il Cav courtesy of Le Figaro

Berlusconi comes out with Sarkozy against criticism on France’s treatment of Roma. Quoted in Le Figaro yesterday, “[EU Citizen’s Rights Commissioner] Reding would have done better to treat the subject in private with French leaders before speaking publicly as she did.” Some of the right-leaning Italian press is calling it a new French-Italian “axis” against immigration. Meanwhile, the NYT does a story on the Rom, and the comment of a Romanian official bears a striking resemblance to a comment on this blog a couple weeks back.