June 12, 2009

"Italy's Obama"

“To tolerate illegal immigration above all harms those who enter our country with the desire to work and integrate themselves and to have a normal life.”

“The problem is that these people don’t have papers, they are very poor, so either they must steal to eat or they are exploited by employers who give them very little money and don’t care if they die.”

The person who spoke those words is Sandy Cane, a 47-year-old Italian-American who has been elected mayor of the small Italian town of Viggiu, close to the Swiss border. Predictably, she was backed by one of the two “anti-immigrant” parties of Italy. To be precise she was backed by the most “anti” of the two: the Northern League. But she is not a racist at all, for the simple reason that she is a black woman, being the daughter of a black American soldier and an Italian woman from Viggiu. And she told the press that the Northern League had “welcomed her warmly,” to the point that Umberto Bossi, the head of the party, is told to have had discussions with Nick Griffin, the leader of the British National Party, which does not accept non-whites as members.

Needless to say, Sandy supports Italy’s newly adopted policy of intercepting boatloads of immigrants as they try to cross the Mediterranean and forcing them back to Libya, where most of the boats originate. And her argument is not at all insignificant:

“The problem is far too big for Italy to handle on its own. I think the United Nations should have a much bigger presence in countries like Libya so that they can process people there. In any case, how many are really refugees, rather than economic migrants?”

What else? This for instance:

“People think the League is racist but now it is much stronger and more mature than it once was. It is not racist to be against illegal immigration.”

“In America I voted for Obama, in Italy for Bossi.”

Sandy is being hailed as “Italy’s Obama.”


  1. This is a problem that has been politically exploited if not encouraged for over 35 years. So easy to manifest for illegal immigrants, the 'sans papiers', les clandestines, 'papiers pour tous' etc. But one has yet to see someone like Ségolène Royal, the classic example who never misses a granted occasion to give her moral lectures and extol her virtues, offer a family of illegal immigrants the use of one of her properties.

    Gaddafi is also quick to criticise, going way too far emulating Armadinejad, yet the Libyan authorities are obviously amongst the first responsible for this problem, especially in Italy. Maybe he considers it a justified form of revenge for Italian colonialism and American (and Israeli) 'imperialism', etc. Would it not be less hypocritical to recognise and apologise for any faults committed during one's life time (and he has more than most to admit) rather than expect any compensation for faults committed by colonialism (1912-1947) however unjust these may then have been?

  2. "But she is not a racist at all, for the simple reason that she is a black woman..."

    Huh? Rob, you and I usually agree on nearly everything but you've stepped in it here. Have you been in Italy too long? :-)

    OF COURSE black people can be racists. In fact, they are every bit as racist as people of other colors.

    You don't know in fact whether she is racist or not. Best to stick with the basics of the story and not get into supposition about her racism

  3. @ma_che:

    Good point, but what I meant was that she is not racist towards black people. Ok, I know, illegal immigrants are not only blacks but also whites, arabs and asians. That's why I must admit that your point remains valid. I actually expressed myself badly...