Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Italy's openly racist "White Christmas" campaign

According to Speigel Online, "officials in the northern Italian town of Coccaglio are visiting the homes of foreign residents and expelling those with expired residency permits." There has been a "national uproar" over the incidence, particularly given that the action will last until December 25th and has been dubbed "White Christmas."

Mayor Franco Claretti, of the fascist Northern League, has insisted that "Christmas isn't the celebration of hospitality but, rather, of Christian tradition and our identity." This nationalist rhetoric is how he justifies the need "to start cleaning things up." As Kurosh Danesh, the national coordinator for immigrants for the CGIL, Italy's largest trade union, put it, "it makes you think of the sound of the boots of the fascist soldiers in the ghetto of Rome chasing after Jewish inhabitants."

Claretti and others have insisted that the action is "not racist" and that although the name was a "gross oversight," the coverage in the newspapers has been "completely out of line, as well as offensive to good taste." However, in a country which has revived the blackshirts, and initiated vicious pogroms against the Roma, such flimsy excuses ring hollow.

As BNP leader Nick Griffin's call to "sink immigrants' boats" in echo of Italy's measure giving Libya patrol boats "to stem the flow of migrants illegally reaching Italian shores" demonstrates, Italy now serves as a litmus test of nationalist influence in Europe. They have now reached a point where leading figures in the Northern League, such as Giancarlo Gentillini, can openly say, "we must cleanse our streets of the black-skinned, the yellow-skinned, the Roma … I would have all the immigrants put on file, one by one. Unfortunately, this is not allowed by the law. They are the carriers of all sorts of diseases, tuberculosis, Aids, scabies, hepatitis."

Events unfolding there serve as a warning of what could happen in this country if we let militant antifascism die. Those resisting that trend deserve our solidarity and support.