Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Italy condemned for 'racism wave'

This is the title of an article published today on the BBC Online Newspaper.
The situation in Italy is really tense, since the victory of the right wing government last month. The immigration measures adopted in Italy these days have been criticized by all the European countries; they simply go againsts basic human rights! Especially the Roma communities in Italy are blamed by the locals for all sorts of crimes, and people have totally lost their mind, pursuing xenophobic reactions against immigrants.
Personally, I'm really worried about this situation. Italy, being also my country, has too easily forgotten the time when Italians were living and experiencing exactly the same discriminations that immigrants are experiencing today in Italy.
Migration, in fact, has always been a central issue of Italian history. Italy has witnessed different kinds of diaspora due to different economical crisis. There have been overseas emigrations of Italians to North America and Australia since at least the second half of the 19th century, in a special way after the unification; internal migrations in particular of Southern Italians to the more promising North and migration to European countries, especially after the Second World War, indeed a very active phenomenon still today.
Despite this experience, Italy has today great difficulties in dealing with the reverse phenomenon of immigration. The way Italians and the Italian government are dealing with immigration today is, in fact, a symptom of a intolerant attitude towards people coming from beyond Italian borders, who are especially identified with illegal and criminal individuals. The legislative discourse, and not only that, is usually informed by a rhetoric that associates the immigrants with concepts of regression and political danger to be fought.
I like what Donna Gabaccia writes in her book, "Italy's many Diaspora": «For a country with a long history of sending emigrants abroad, Italy experienced considerable distress in welcoming migrants onto its national territory…a nation accustomed to thinking of its migrants as subject to racist and capitalist oppression abroad suddenly looked into the mirror to see itself as the oppressor» (p. 172).
Italian cultural memory is too short! It is easy to condemn from the perspective of an "host" country,  people arriving "illegallly", and generally label all of them as criminals and dangerous people. It is easy and completely wrong!
Italians, I beleive, need a huge mirror to question their cultural memory.

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