You know when you really really really struggle to find something to say and you are left speechless?
Well if you are Italian and have a pinch of common sense (of half a heart) in the last three days you have probably felt a sense of nausea and confusion, looking at the dreadful images of what just happened in our sea, that is quickly turning into a mass grave. What happened?
A boat with allegedly 950 people on it capsized and sank, only 28 were rescued. This piece of news is terrible in itself, but what makes it so much worse is that the boat was carrying 950 migrants who had already endured torture, forced labour, physical, sexual and psychological violence and who had paid up to 6000 USD to make the crossing and have a chance at surviving. Yeah, because most of them came from countries at war or where they and their families were persecuted for religious or cultural reasons.
None of them, I presume, thought they would have found a pot of gold on the coasts of Italy. I’m pretty sure that, when they saw the boat, they did assess the risks of crossing the Mediterranean on it and I am almost as sure that the family who spent the savings of a lifetime, or the young boys whose families had saved for months to give them a shot at a better life, shook the thought of risk from their minds as soon as they set foot on the boat.
What happened? Human smugglers stuffed almost one thousand people and locked them up, then tried to escape from a merchant ship that had approached to rescue them (they were clearly in distress just off the coasts of Libya) and capsized the boat. They saved themselves and thought they had gotten away with it, but killed 900 people in the process.
In 2013 a major accident of this sort happened off the coast of Lampedusa and 360 people died. I was in Indonesia and wrote a post about it: I did have the feeling that it was not gonna end there, and in fact the tragedy went on for two years, until last week two tragedies killed almost 1400 people.
There are so many things that are sickening about this: people having to run from their country, racial and religious persecution, slow rescuing procedures (leading to the death of almost 1000 people), poverty (actually, not just poverty… that kind of poverty that prevents you from considering ANY other option but put yourself and your family at risk). This would be more than enough to make this tragedy even more tragic.
But I’m Italian, and with great coffee and fragrant pizza comes the perk of politicians that have very little understanding of root causes of mass migrations (and a number of other things… what can we do? We were born lucky!). As an extra perk comes their absolute lack of common sense and ability to filter their thoughts and discard the inappropriate ones.
In the last few days I have read interviews, tweets and facebook updates from parliamentarians (who, I’m ashamed to say, I personally contribute to pay with my own, very hard earned, tax money) that have chilled my spine. It does make you wonder… how would they respond if another country (more powerful than ours) made fun of our tragedies? Because they clearly wouldn’t dare joke about 900 Americans or Russians lost at sea… they however seems to have no remorse when joking about 900 Africans, and not a word has been said about the totalitarian regimes these people were running from.
In the past three days I have seen cartoons with a drowned baby near a sinking boat and the caption “Out of our homes” or a cartoon with a migrant lost at sea and the caption “free housing, free healthcare, free cigarettes, welcome to Italy!” (the “free housing” is in an overcrowded detention centre -overcrowded is what landed us a quite substantial EU fine, coz apparently you can’t make 30 people sleep in a room with six beds… these European judges are CRAZZZYYYY!!!).
All this, in a civilized country, would mean that whoever wrote or commissioned that cartoon as part of a political agenda (oh… we didn’t know it was easier to blame our huge and numerous problems of those coming from Africa!) is immediately erased from political life. In Italy people like Mr Salvini (leader of the 4th biggest political party), Senator Daniela Santanche’, Senator Maurizio Gasparri and their respective legacies have freedom of speech and no official reprimand has come from the Government, Therefore the Government, my Government, institutionally approves of this behaviour, even when it’s a gratuitous offence to already deeply scarred people.
Not wanting migrants in your country is understandable: it’s evidence of poor knowledge of economic laws (the majority of migrants in Italy have regular jobs (that Italians are not willing to do), pay taxes and produce a wealth that our unemployed youth cannot possibly produce. They often do come with illnesses that were almost forgotten in Italy, it’s true, but they also have more children, are more productive workforce, take less leave days and are less likely to leave the job or under perform because their resident permit is tied to keeping that job. So…), but I honestly get it. You don’t want someone who’s different because he threatens you. If he’s Muslim he may be a terrorist, if he’s an Arab he may be a Muslim (and therefore a terrorist), if he’s Latin American he probably drinks and beats his wife, if he’s from south Asia he’s a rapist (and if she’s from Eastern Europe she’s a whore, sorry I had to complete the geographical sterotypes!). Actually no, wait… I get it… you don’t want them in your country, but I can’t push myself as far as saying that it’s “understandable”.
What I don’t understand is WHY do you need to rejoice at the news of their (horrible) death?
So please, Italian politicians, since you have demonstrated to be unable to find the right words to say in this occasion, and since you were all Charlie when Charlie was white and attacking Islam, but now that Charlie is of colour you all go about your own business… Please, I’m begging you: Shut up.