I started writing this post over a week ago. This is what I said.
Italy took one more large step towards an effectively fascist regime the day before yesterday with the approval by the senate of a bundle of legislative measures labelled ‘security’. They look like a knee-jerk reaction to recent acts of violence committed by ‘foreigners’, but this isn’t the case for a number of reasons, which I’ll talk about below. The measures are part of a xenophobic plan designed by the Lega to placate its electorate and, shamefully, supported by its allies in parliament in order to ensure the tenure of the current government. Perhaps ‘plan’ is too grand a word for the illiterate blatherings of Bossi and his gang of small-town bullies and petty bureaucrats from the imaginary land of Padania, but the effect they’re likely to have is much the same as other ‘solutions’ dreamed up in the recent, and not so recent, past.Italy is now the only country in western Europe in which a government minister (Bossi) can refer to immigrants as ‘bingo bongo’ and maintain, indeed reinforce, his position, and in which an MEP (Borghezio) can continue to be regarded as a politician after being convicted of criminal violence inspired by racial hatred. People seem to have become used to the presence of these people, which is the most worrying aspect of all, because indifference is precisely the humus that allows new laws of this kind to pass without protest, or sufficient protest.Let’s take a look at the new measures. Immigrants who apply for a permesso di soggiorno (permit to stay) will be expected to pay a tax of between 80 and 200 euros for the privilege. Those without a permesso di soggiorno will be denied medical care, and any doctor or medical worker who provides it will have the right to report the patient to the police. The same goes for anyone who assists an illegal immigrant to send money home to his or her country. Citizens (Italian) will have the legal right to form bands to patrol the streets to protect themselves and fellow citizens from violence.
And then I gave up, nauseated, but also side-tracked by the Englaro case and the odd display of skewed values the two events seemed to reveal of Italy. The life of a brain-dead woman had suddenly become more valuable than that of the many hundreds of thousands of workers without whose daily contribution the Italian economy would grind to a halt. Eluana, it seeemd, had the right to live, the right to medical treatment about to be routinely denied Mohamed or Luis or Maddalena (except that, for Italian politicians, the only immigrants to have names are the ones who wipe their grandmother’s arse or clean their shoes for them). And I was side-tracked too by the news that a Northern League mayor in the Friuli region had issued an ordinance that, alongside the usual ban on burkas, obliged all restaurants, including ethnic ones, to serve traditional Friuliano dishes, and by Wendell’s post on a little financial incentive being offered by fascists in Basilicata to ensure that the names Benito and Rachele live on. In case you don’t know, these are the first names of Mussolini and his wife, last seen hanging by their heels in Piazzale Loreto. And I thought, Look on his works, ye mighty, and despair.