Perhaps not “While Europe Slept”, but can we have a little more attention to what’s going on in Italy? As well as the fascist saluting business, and the is-he-joking-is-he-serious threats of violence, we’re seeing gypsy camps being set on fire by thugs, whose behaviour is being excused by the Northern League on grounds that the government hasn’t gone far enough in kicking them out of the country. The government, for its part, is happily legislating against people on the grounds of citizenship, and has apparently decided to forget about the Treaty of Rome and the ECHR for a while.
What genuinely worries me, though, is this trope of people working-towards-the-leader, going too far, and being tacitly understood as having the right motives. It’s traditionally one of the most effective ways to get people to do something really awful. Similarly, this parallel-police tendency is very dangerous stuff – Misha Glenny reckons the goons are being supplied by the Camorra, which wouldn’t surprise me at all. Hey, and people thought I was crazy when I suggested Berlusconi might not go when he lost the last election…
Fortunately there’s the Spanish deputy prime minister and a Hungarian MEP;
Hungarian liberal MEP and a Roma herself Viktoria Mohacsi visited gypsy camps outside Rome and Naples. According to Italy’s AGI news agency, she said that she had been “frightened and filled with horror” by what she had seen.
She referred to “[the] random night roundups, assault in prisons, gratuitous arrests and a general persecutory climate unworthy of a country which considers itself democratic.”
but this isn’t enough. The European Commission is silent. Does anyone now remember that they applied official sanctions to Austria because of the FPO’s entry in government? Yes, they consisted of marginally reducing the size of the flag on the EC representative office on the Karntner Ring or something, but at least it made the point.