Sunday, 20 September 2009

Now is the time to cover your face

To what appears to be general indifference, the press room in Rome city hall has just been dedicated to Oriana Fallaci, the Italian journalist who died three years ago in Florence after having spent many years in the States. Those of you who've never glanced inside any of the last few books Fallaci wrote, in Italian and an execrable English, will have no idea of the level of irrational venom to which her anti-Islamic polemic sank. Together, they redefine the notion of racist vomit with an energy that would impress the KKK were its members capable of extended reading. They're a sort of cross between Ann Coulter at her worst and the most virulently xenophobic taxi-driver you've ever had the misfortune to be picked up by. Fallaci's no doubt sincere hatred, and self-aggrandising hate-mongering, were fuelled by the way Muslims smell (that's right - bad) to the fact that they 'breed like rats'. Heady stuff, and much of it went down a bomb - if that isn't too inflammatory a metaphor - in the new Italy, characterised by Umberto 'Bingo Bongo' Bossi, but to name a room after her in the city hall of Italy's capital is an odd choice and I'm surprised no one seems to mind. After all, the (ex-fascist) mayor's recent rubber stamping of the appointment of someone who served time for an act of right-wing political violence some decades ago has stirred up enough controversy, although it's blindingly obvious that, of the two, Fallaci is by far the more dangerous figure. The fact that she was a writer and journalist of some note, and even value, before losing her marbles a là Bardot is no excuse.

On a lower level, if that were possible, one of Italy's least loveable
politicians, a woman called Daniela Santanché, was just on the TV news. Santanché's political career, such as it is, has been devoted to running to the succour of the victor, but that's hardly remarkable in Italy, although running with such speed on the very high heels she favours shows an admirable
recklessness. She's managed to get herself, she claims, slightly roughed up by protesting against the use of the burkha outside a party celebrating the end of Ramadan. Wisely, she'd informed the press that she'd be there, because what use is a protest without profile? She quoted a 1975 law forbidding the concealing of the face, insisting it be enforced. What was amusing was that, between her enormous sunglasses and surgically puffed-up lips, it was hard to imagine what her own face must once have looked like. Perhaps the law should be extended to cover designer shades and trout pout.

2 comments:

Wendell Ricketts said...

Dear Charles - what a great crop of recent posts you've been growing in your summer garden. From Mike to La Fallaci to Bossi Père et Fils to Boffo -- a person can hardly keep up with the Decline and Fall of the Italian Republic, the western world's longest running tragi-comedy. Thanks for the act of documentation -- not to be slighted in this age of the five-minute memory. The revolution will not be televised, but I'm sure we'll be able to buy the souvenir plate, as advertised on Chi Vuol Essere un Milionario ... Have I ever been this disillusioned in my life? (A rhetorical question for the moment, but I'm still thinking....)

Charles Lambert said...

Thank you, Wendell. The date to watch for now, of course, is 6 October, when the Consulta decides on the Lodo Alfano (if anyone doesn't know what that is, keep reading - I'll get to it!) and SB may find himself before a judge. I know this is hard to imagine in the new Ruritania, but I live in hope. BTW, did you hear that Bossi fils is going to university in the UK? I knew our standards had fallen but I didn't know how far. I wonder what he'll be studying. (Suggestions on a postcard...or, even better, a comment below)

Disillusioned? I'm not sure I've lost any illusions about Italy; I think the country's objectively changed. I was talking to a friend a few days ago and it struck me that I'm shafted here on the three most basic levels: family, home and work. I can't get married, I could be jailed for a presumed act of abusivismo and my contract as a state worker ran out 11 years ago - so no increase in salary since then (and it wasn't much to start with.) It's hard to feel fond of a country when you're under a three-pronged attack from its institutions...