COLUMN: Italian political instability raises need for self-examination

Personal lessons can be learned from the recent political instability in Italy

Bon Adamson is a sophomore journalism major at MU. He is an opinion columnist who writes about politics for The Maneater.

An interior minister known for inflammatory rhetoric was dangerously close to taking power in Italy. Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, aforementioned interior minister, called for a snap election in Italy after Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigned on Aug. 20. This was stopped by Conte forming a new coalition between Italy’s populist Five Star Movement, and the center-left Democratic Party. This new coalition excluded Salvini’s League.

Now to be clear, Salvini is still dangerous. Elections are bound to happen eventually, and Salvini’s League is polling at numbers around 30 percent. Salvini is a man who rose to fame on press appearances at camps for the displaced Roma people, which he would threaten to demolish. He’s also called for a census of Roma, followed by expulsion from Italy of all non-Italian Roma. He called this move an “answer to the Roma question,” a phrase concerningly reminiscent of Nazi rhetoric and their “Final Solution to the Jewish question.”

This kind of rhetoric should sound familiar. It is the exact sentiment President Donald Trump expresses frequently towards Mexican immigrants. Trump, much like Salvini, settled in a position of power through harsh anti-Mexican sentiments and threats, such as building a border wall. Similarly, Trump has dehumanized Mexicans from the get-go, literally calling them “rapists” in his campaign announcement speech. Going even further, Trump pushed for adding a census question to root out non-citizens. And of course, who could forget that Trump has detained immigrant children in in facilities described as concentration camps by members of congress, historians, holocaust surviors and the dictionary, and has done nothing to free them.

The rise of figures such as Trump and Salvini raises a lot of concerns about who we are at our core. It raises questions about what we think of certain minority groups minus persecution from Trump or Salvini. It raises above all, the need for a conversation about any underlying prejudices we as a community hold.

Even though Salvini has previously failed to take power, and even if Trump fails to secure a second term in 2020, the sentiments both men harnessed to gain power still exist. According to a Pew Research study, 85 percent of Italians hold an “unfavorable” view of Roma in their country. That is a huge number of people. And the worst part is, with the view being that popular, it’s bound to feel normal.

It is for this precise reason, the popularity of such a view, that I must urge you to examine your views and the views of your community. Is there a toxic perception of someone or something in your community you could be looking past? This community could be as large as the state or come all the way down to Mizzou’s campus. It could even be your own smaller community, your family or your friends.

Is the toxic view so popular it feels normal? Now, if it is, you need only ask yourself two more questions — how long until someone takes advantage of that view and does something horrible because of it? How are you going to stop them?

Edited by Bryce Kolk | bkolk@themaneater.com

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