Italy and Beyond

Belén Fernández in the Washington Spectator:

Once upon a time in Italy, a prominent citizen declared: “It is unacceptable that sometimes in certain parts of Milan there is such a presence of non-Italians that instead of thinking you are in an Italian or European city, you think you are in an African city.”

In case the message was not crystal clear, he then spelled it out: “Some people want a multicolored and multiethnic society. We do not share this opinion.”

The citizen in question was none other than Silvio Berlusconi: billionaire three-time Italian prime minister, intermittent convict, and head of a superpowerful media empire, who, as the New York Times put it in January 2018, has now “cleverly nurtured a constituency of aging animal lovers—and potential voters—by frequently appearing on a show on one of his networks in which he pets his fluffy white dogs and bottle-feeds lambs.”

Panic over the devolving color-scape of the patria is, of course, of a piece with the greater right-wing narrative of Fortress Europe, which shuns the possibility that centuries of European plunder and devastation of the African continent might have any bearing on current migration patterns. But while history lessons may not be as entertaining as lamb-nursing sessions or bunga bunga parties, it’s worth noting that, in the not-so-distant past, Italians voluntarily found themselves in many African cities—and for purposes far less dignified than trying to survive.

More here.