22 October 2008


An ugly side of Italy

America has been called the “melting pot”, a mix of people from all over the world coming to her shores, but I think the Italian peninsula was the original “melting pot”. This beautiful land that juts out into the Mediterranean Sea has been ruled by various groups during the course of several millennium including the Greeks, Romans, Germans, French, Spanish and various local tribes. The Romans brought people from all over their known world to this area to be their slaves and other people have come here for various reasons and become a mix of the combined gene pool. This mixing of people groups over hundreds and thousands of years has developed unique differences in the various regions of the present Italy.

This makes for an interesting backdrop considering the current increase in anti-immigrant sentiment we have noticed, I do not believe this is a unique phenomenon only to Italy but as foreigners we see this in a different light. Since we tend to blend in with the local populace we have not been direct targets of this problem but we do see, hear and read about occurrences. The newspapers have had several stories of Chinese nationals being beaten or killed by Italians, we have heard government employees lump all Romanians and Albanians into the category of thieves, and we see how some locals react to the darker skinned immigrants they encounter on the streets. Unfortunately there have been some highly publicized incidents where immigrants have done some very bad things which certainly do not improve how the populace views them.

Italy has a term for these people, extracomunitaro and the two of us are extracomunitari. This is the term used for foreigners who originate from outside the European Union. This term is frequently used in the media and you generally do not see it used but in a derogatory manner. Recently the Italian parliament has passed a law that the children of extracomunitari will be placed in separate classes in the schools until their language skills are to the standard described by the state, so as to not “impede” the learning of the Italian children.

Has anyone seen a “Blackshirt” lately…?


Anonymous said...


It'll be interesting to see if the reactions become more severe if the global economic issues continue to become larger.


carrieitly said...


I'm glad you bring the subject to light as many in your audience may not be familiar with it.

I am furious about the suggestion of segregating children in school. While I don't know the correct measures or answers for integration of non-fluent students, I feel blatant segregation will only promote hate and a feeling of national superiority.

In the meantime it does nothing to successfully integrate immigrant children into their new country by seperating them as "different" and even "second class".

I have little hope for Italian government resolving these problems fairly in anything like a fashionable time (if ever). However I hope Brussels is paying attention and will intervene if anything that so blatantly smacks of inequality is made effective against people who are in this country legally.


P.S. Martin, it's sad to say, but economic problems have always been further foder against immigrants and minorities by nationalists the world over. I'm sure we'll be seeing even more of it, both in Italy and the US, in light of the current economic issues.

Bryan said...

Bigotry will hide its ugly face behind many different reasons.

Matteo Rossini said...

Dear Sir, what are you talking about?
We racist?

I wanted to write down this comment in Italian: if you can judge us, I suppose you correctly understand written and spoken Italian, but I'll write in English to be readable by your followers: please, forgive me if I'll be mistaken.

I was born in Fano, in the northern part of Marche.
I travelled around Italy, due to my work.
I worked for long period abroad, side by side with my USA friends.
I consider myself a moderate, a scientist, a citizen of the Word but also an Italian patriot, having served for ten years as Italian Army Officer.

I've found your post offensive, been facts not correct and not contextualized: I believe that the image of Italians depicted is deformed by a sort of "we-are-more-civilized" POW.

Where do you come from?
Where Native Americans still live in reserve, like pandas?

West culture was born here, in Italy, more than 2 thousand years ago.
We have a lot of problems: as Italian and as European: it's the obvious consequence of having such a long history back.
But we are not racist.
We are not afraid of foreigner.
We are one of the most travelling and cultured people in the word, while in the USA a lot of people don't have a passport or just own one book (the Bible).

I'd like not to be polemic, but see: I'm a patriot, and you are talking about things you really don't know, so offending us.

The problem with immigration is that for a long period in Europe we don't adopted a clear regulation.
This is racist!
If a person move to Italy without having a work, a place to sleep in, an ID card and at least 1 $ for a coffee, what do you think he'll do to survive?
We hadn't a clear regulation due to a pervasive left-philo-communist-culture: everyone is equal to everyone.

What we are trying to do, in Europe and particularly in Italy, is to find out some clear rules to assure to immigrants their rights, to Italian employer their workers and finally to everyone integration.
Aren’t trying You, in the States, to regularize migrant flux (even building a wall along the Mexican-USA border)?

What's the problem with us?

You talk about killings: they happen, everywhere in the word.
It's not racism, it's a fact: a lot of migrants - due to conditions determined by lack of policy, as I said before - survive with illegal business.
The result is that sometimes migrants doing illegal business can go together with Italians doing illegal business, sometimes not (and when this happens, usually someone shots to someone else).
I suppose in the USA you don't have problems like these, do you?

Extracomunitarian term is just a word with no offensive meaning: it just describes a condition.
In the USA, at the immigration board, you call us "aliens": it sounds offensive to us, but I think you don't care a lot about what we think about you, do you?

Finally, you talk about separate class... my God, is so sad what you understood.

This law is intended for every immigrant (extracomunitarian or not) who want to join our schools.
The base idea is to check one’s competence (at the moment, only language ones) to determinate in which class level he should be put.
If a child doesn't speak Italian at all it's a problem: he wouldn't be able to follow lessons.

Where is the scandal?

My wife attended USA schools: she was tested before admittance, even in her language competence.

Where is the problem?

Sometimes I think that you, outside Europe, fear us.
You'd like us to remain just a beautiful picture.
You fear us as a competitor, don't you?
You fear foreigners and foreigner culture: doesn't this sound quite racist?

Oh, just one thing: bigotry?

In some states in the USA is illegal to teach evolutionism: it's against God's speech!

I'd like to live in the USA, because I love your Country (as I mentioned before, I've worked and lived for long periods with Americans).
I'd like to live there even if there are so many differences between our two cultures, differences I accept without judging them.
How can one judges a culture different from his one?

You were not born in Italy and your blood, your history, your feelings are not Italian.

Do you really think you can judge us just because you moved here?
Are you superior to us?
It sounds quite racist, doesn't it?


Bryan said...

I appreciate your views and the time and effort to list them and I fully agree that bigotry is not restricted to any one country.

This blog is a reflection of what I see, hear and experience around me and I hope to show people who read this both the positive and negative aspects of these observations