Italy’s Matteo Salvini is back on his racist bullshit again

He’s also just threatened to remove police protection from an Italian author. Roberto Saviano is under protection because he is believed to be a Mafia target. Salvini made his threat after Saviano made criticisms.

Poland, Austria, Italy and Hungary appear to be having a race to the bottom right now.


Politically it’s a dark time in the West, a new version of the Dirty Thirties where 20% of the population has been spared the worst effects of the Depression. Even in “last bastions” of liberal democracy we see right-wing populist thugs like AfD and Doug Ford gaining power.

It speaks badly of humans that the moment a catastrophe dies out of living memory about a third of them are happily willing to re-institute the conditions that caused it last time and another third are willing to stand idly by because “what’s the worst that can happen?”

It is up to the remaining third of us to hold the line. If we can’t we have to find ways to join together and protect ourselves from these predators.


I assume that not mentioning the USA in that list was pure oversight / or taken for granted.


It is a race to the bottom, so someone has to mark the finish line. Thank you, America! :wink:


At least three commenters (including me) had their post removed for no apparent reason other than expressing doubts, rather than a different (and when i say different i mean moderately different, not opposite) point of view.
I didn’t see any toxic comments, if there were, i missed them.

About this article well, i’d say there would be things to discuss about it, but it’s not worth doing just to be wiped out for not slavishly clinging to the allowed doctrine.
(to be clear i didn’t vote for Salvini, will never do it and i find the belly-driven comments of the people in the comment sections of the Italian online newspapers awful and discouraging)

The person in question, who seems to have been banned, was using that fallacious line about liberals bringing in “slaves” and then using that to excuse the actions of victimisers. The mods and owners of this site have made it clear that victim-blaming is not ok, which means in turn that making excuses for perpetrators of abuse of those victims is also not ok.

It’s fine to speculate about why right-wing populism appeals to poorly educated or insecure or entitled people, but if the reasons given are self-serving right-wing BS conspiracy theories (“it’s the liberals|rootless cosmopolitans|NWO|gay agenda|feminists|etc.”) then they’re going to be flagged by the community and shut down by the mods.

Short version: the mods and owners and much of the site’s community believe that making excuses for the likes of Salvini and his supporters, especially when they’re based in BS, contributes in large part to their gaining power in the first place.

Also, to avoid going further off topic I’d suggest taking any specific complaints or disappointment in BB in this regard to the General Moderation Topic the mods have set up. They’re very willing to discuss their policies.


Not that this is something to celebrate, but Laibach called this back in 2015:

So much for the EU.


I didn’t know the topic existed, good for the next time, thanks.


If you reply to a comment that gets flagged and removed, your reply may get removed, too.

It’s more practical than the mods having to slice apart and reassemble entire conversations every time, or leave hanging, out-of-context comments.


Unless i don’t get what you say (and of course i am talking about Italy, Rome to be more precise which is what i know), i don’t think this is correct.
I don’t see any safety reasons for keeping themselves to themselves, at least not in the modern era.
Infact they are usually seing going around alone or in small groups minding their own business in the day without significant problems.
This is not to say that there are no tensions between them and the rest of the society, because sure there are, just that the image of the recluse entrenched community is not correct.

At least in some percentage the stereotypes are backed up by facts.
Some Roma tend to commit more crimes than the general population, expecially when you talk about petty crimes like theft, pickpocketing and shoplifting.
These crimes, while not severe, are very evident and tend to be felt more by the people that surrounds them.
Add that the petty crimes are dealt with a soft hand by the judicial system (for every etnicity, of course) and that they tend to keep committing those crimes even after having been caught, and you can imagine what is the general reaction.

Salvini and his thuggish party got a significant number of votes in the modern era in Italy, so it seems that the Roma falling back on old instincts for self-preservation would be understandable and in order.

Only one of the stereotypes Seamus mentioned (“Roma are all criminals”), which is not backed up by facts (that the Roma commit a disproportionate number of petty crimes does not mean that all of them should be regarded as criminals).

[This lack of precision on your part might be why your earlier comments got flagged. Your English is excellent, certainly better than my non-existent Italian, but perhaps you need to work on phraseology.]

It would more accurate to say that because a disproportionate number of Roma have committed petty crimes it makes it easier for Salvini to foist his bogus stereotypes on the poorly educated and intellectually lazy Italians who support him.

Also, is there hiring discrimination against Roma in Italy similar to that against African-Americans in the U.S.? I don’t condone crime, but do understand what might drive someone given no other options by society to turn to it.

Italy seems to be afflicted by the dual plagues of European low-intensity ethno-nationalism (where a third- or fourth-generation citizen may still not be considered “Italian”) and the chronic incompetence in governance (Greece and Spain seem to be its major competitor for this dubious honour). Combine that with growing economic inequality and fewer old folks who remember how bad it was under Il Duce and of course Salvini and his ilk start crawling out from under the cobblestones.


The rising of Salvini is way too recent, and i have not seen any change in attitude amongst Roma people.
If you picture someone going around with a cautious and fearful attitude that is totally not the case.
The usual behaviour of the visible part of the Roma population is rather of defiance.

Certainly this does not allow a generalization, i was only pointing out that the stereotype coming from the preference towards esclusivist living seems factually inaccurate.

About other prejudices, seamus mentioned:

i really can’t say anything first hand about paying taxes that would based on evidence, so that would just be a guess, and i think guessing does not help that much here.
And about being a plague on a productive society, i don’t see it as being a separate stereotype but a consequence.

I know, i know.
The fact is that, while i did study english in school (we are talking late '80s early '90s), my real interest came with Sci Fi DVDs and later the internet so i started using it for real on my own.
Expressing complex ideas in a half decent way is a grueling process to me (which to be honest also happens, to a certain degree, in Italian).

I see.
Anyway the prejudice against the Roma has been always strong, and Salvini preys on it to increase his appeal to the part of the population that is more likely to be driven by its guts.
Which, i am afraid, is not only the poorly educated and intellectually lazy.

And don’t forget (because i certainly don’t) that Salvini’s movement stems from the racism of the north of Italy against the centre and the south.
A not insignificant part of their core supporters in the north would be racist towards me, for example, as an inhabitant of Rome.
It is not a very strong feeling nowadays, but sometimes when you speak with someone from the north (expecially older people) you see it lurking beyond a wall of politically correctness.

But, to be fair, i have also to admit that some of their complaints are based on facts.
The big big problems arise when these prejudices become unappellable judgements.

It’s hard to say because i do not know any instances of a Roma interacting this way with an Italian.
But yes, i assume that if a Roma would seek in good faith a job, or to rent a home, he would face a serious prejudice.

Another prejudice against them is that they don’t want to integrate, that they want to keep living like they do (petty crimes and all).
As a matter of fact i have a hard time being more specific because i (or anyone close to me) really never had much to spare with Romas (one exception, a person i know has some Roma clients, but she’s a criminal lawyer).

I’ve had far more interactions (and i am talking of positive interactions), on a personal level and indirectly by accounts of friends and acquaintances with the african or chinese immigrants, and these communities are quite new in comparison.
And i have seen far more african immigrants seeking and obtaining a job or a house to rent, prejudices notwhitstanding.

This just to say, to get back to your comparison with african-americans that the Romas are a different and very complex subject.

We are at the point where the traditional parties have squandered all their credibility, and now these new (at least new to this level of power) movements managed to take advantage of it.
It’s not a pretty spot we are in, i have to admit.


If your comment was removed, it was either:

  1. in violation of our community guidelines


  1. responding to a post that was in violation and removed, in which case, replies are often removed as well (because those replies are now probably offtopic and orphaned).

We have a clear moderation policy here. We don’t do things arbitrarily. One of the things we do support around here is giving victims the benefit of the doubt. It’s enshrined in those same guidelines. If you don’t believe you can hold yourself to that minimal standard, then perhaps this isn’t the discussion forum for you.

We don’t remove posts for having a differing view from the mainstream. I think a lot of posters wish we did, but if a post was removed for cause, then it was because the poster couldn’t adhere to the guidelines while expressing said view.


That doesn’t mean there wasn’t a lot of anti-Roma bigotry already present – as in the U.S. and elsewhere the rise of right-wing populism has just made it acceptable in public discourse again.

Defiance is also a valid way of expressing self-preservation.

Then you might have focused on that instead of the criminality.

Oh, it’s a stereotype. Likening ethnic groups to pestilence is an old favourite for bigots.

As it is for just about anyone trying to do that in a language that isn’t their first. When the ideas are also controversial and may provoke offense it’s even worse, which is why I avoid those discussions with native speakers of the other languages I have. That’s not to say I don’t contribute to the conversation, but I generally let them take the lead and answer with yes/no answers rather than the treatises I use in this English-speaking forum.

I want to comment on this because on this BBS we’ve had a history of bigoted trolls both foreign and domestic who constantly and disingenuously claimed they were misunderstood due to their “poor communication skills.” Most of them have been banned after our very patient mods caught onto their game. I’m not saying you’re one of these trolls, but it’s a poor excuse however one looks at it if one wants to engage in discussions about complex and controversial issues.

To be clear, when I say “poorly educated” I don’t necessarily mean “poorly credentialed” – there are a lot of bigots out there with college degrees. But yes, there are also intelligent and educated and successful sociopaths who buy into the messages of right-wing populists for their own reasons.

Thanks. This is a great example of how you can contribute something valuable to the discussion. This kind of provincialism seems to be a fact of life in Europe. I remember someone telling me how her family that had lived in a French town since the Middle Ages were still known as “the Germans” because the ancestor who’d settled there in the 15th century was a mercenary solider from the Bavarian region.

Such as? None of the ones Seamus listed have much basis in fact.

So you can see why a disproportionate number might turn to petty crime.

I just read an interesting article about the Chinese communities in Tuscany who were brought in a generation ago as cheap labour for the fashion industry, ended up being very successful despite barriers thrown up against them, and now are inspiring resentment amongst “real” Italians. You hear the same complaints about them as you do about the Roma.

It’s cold comfort, but as I noted above Italy is not alone in the West in this regard.


What i meant is that “they are all criminals” or “they don’t pay taxes” are concrete statements that can be more easily proved to be true or false, while “they are a burden to society” is a more abstract consequence that relies on these other facts.

In this case though, even if i struggle with words, i think the effort may be worth it because i have first hand experience of (at least part of) the subject at hand.
I see how in other circumstances i could just take a back seat and make small and less controversial contributions.

Doesn’t something like that also happen, to a certain degree, in the US?
Like between the big cities and the rural south?

Well, one complaint of the northern regions is that in the south there is a huge waste of taxpayers money, and that they would be better off alone.
And while things are certainly much more complex than that, the claim has its own merits.

Another one is that they claim to have much more civic sense while we southerners are much less well educated and again, while again this is a gross generalization, it is also true to some extent.

No, the complaints about the chinese community are very different from the ones for the Roma.
Yes, it’s true that they tend to be also a recluse community, which is a shame, but the similarities more or less end there.

And i’d say, at least here (i have no idea in Prato) the common view of the Roma is much less favorable.

The latter.

Which other facts? The BS ones trotted out by right-wingers?

On-the-ground accounts of facts (like the northern vs. southern bigotry) are welcome here if you can relate them to the main topic. Just saying that if English is not your first language, if you acknowledge you have general difficulties in communicating, and you’re commenting on a controversial issue perhaps take some extra care. It looks like, in a similar way, you already angered one of the mods on the issue of claiming you’ve been unfairly silenced here.

Definitely, but not on the level of the nation-state as a whole (with the U.S. it’s more exceptionalism at that level).

The urban-rural divide is a whole separate issue, with provincialism being the least of the issues involved there.

Seamus was talking about the Roma, not the north-south divide. Are the northerners claiming the southerners wasting taxpayer money on the Roma, with whom they share poorer educations and civic senses?

Not if you read the article: “they won’t assimilate!”, “they’re not real Italians”, “they’re stealing from Italians.” The details are different (e.g. “pilfered” fashion brands instead of wallets) but it’s the same old nativist BS.


If you go back in the thread i brought up that the original message of the Lega Nord (Salvini’s movement), was covert racism against the south of Italy, and then i said that their complaints were at least in part based on facts.
You asked which complaints against the south of Italy were based on facts and i gave my opinion.
There were no Roma included in that reasoning.

As a curiosity to become a wider national force and get more votes in the south they conveniently dropped the “nord” (which means north) part of the name from the symbol, and now they are only “la Lega”.

I just read the article (and i found it to be very well written and informative).
The overall story has very little similarities to the Roma.

The main grievances against the chinese reported is that they are stealing jobs and evading taxes on otherwise legit business, and the sentiment of the chinese is one that blends the pride of one’s roots with the desire and willingness to integrate, with also the appreciation for what good they find of their hosts culture:

Luca Zhou, the head of the Italian branch of Ramunion, a Chinese charity, said, “They rent us the factories, but they don’t want to communicate with us. We need more friendship. We should be like brothers.

In her early teens, she returned to China for two years to improve her Chinese and learn about the culture. She didn’t fit in. “That was a more racist society than the one here!” she said.

Our kids don’t want to make bags,” Arturo complained. A friend of his agreed, telling me, “They all want to go to the Bocconi now!” (The Bocconi is an élite private university in Milan.)

I met one such girl, an eighteen-year-old named Luisa, at a pleasant Chinese bistro called Ravioli di Cristina. (The Italians call dumplings “Chinese ravioli.”) Her father sold coffee-vending machines to the Chinese mills. Chinese Pratans, she complained, thought only about money, so she had mostly Italian friends.

I don’t think you’d find anything like that in an article about the interaction between Roma and Italians.

To clarify I wasn’t asking about North vs South covert racism but about bigotry against the Roma when I asked this:

I’ll take this as your acknowledgment that the Salvini-style bigotry against the Roma that Seamus discussed has no real basis in fact and leave it there.

In the details, I agree. But the same racist nativism on the part of the same Italians is still broadly present with the same broad complaints whether we’re talking about the Roma or the Chinese.

I think you might be having some of those communication difficulties in this discussion, so I’m going to end it with this comment.

[the following is not in response to Zaphod but is an on-topic repost of a response to another user (name redacted) which was deleted along with his intial comment]

Another unfortunate similarity with the Jewish diaspora is the perceived unwillingness to assimilate, as is pointed out in the article you linked: “Nearly all Chinese-born Pratans remain citizens of China.”

The perception is bogus, at least in the context of a modern Western nation-state. I assume that Italy has not allowed two generations of Chinese Pratans to work without the proper papers, citizens (as the children seem to be) or not. If this isn’t the case, the best response to a government incompetent enough to allow that to happen is not to elect nativists and bigots who long for the days of Il Duce.

Liberals really don’t care about assimilation, which nativists often set up more as a barrier than a genuine goal. We do care about an immigrant buying into the nation-state’s core values, which in the Western industrialised nations means their constitutions.

Thus, what should count in a modern Western liberal democracy that cites its origins in the Enlightenment is citizenship, with ethnic identity a side issue. If these countries (immigrant nations or not) have decided to stop acknowledging the “republican ideal of citizenship” then they’ve decided to abdicate a core ideal of modern republics and might as well throw in the towel. Many of them seem to be doing just that.

USAians would be well adviced to not believe that their particular experience with slavery-caused racism constitute a global and universal phenomenon

There are many varieties of racism. Bigotry against America’s involuntary “immigrants” is particularly heinous and long-standing but it also uses the same kinds of BS stereotyping and canards that hatemongers use against Native Americans, Jews, and in Europe against those nasty people in the neighbouring country, region, or in the next bloody village down the road. So yes, as awful as America’s “original sin” and its aftermath are it’s also a global and universal phenomenon at the same time.

I bet native Americans disagree with the notion that immigrant Europeans had a right to become “Americans”

Those “immigrant Europeans” were imperial colonists and conquerers. The only people who think that’s going on in modern Europe and the U.S. are right-wing wackadoodles who talk about the supposed threats of “Eurabia” and the “Reconquista.”

We need progressive debates on the current era of migration (from villages to the cities, from poorer regions to the better-off places) which do not reduce the issues to well-known moral arguments.

As noted above, these go beyond well-known moral arguments to core values – especially for immigrant nations, but also for those that style themselves global centres of commerce, culture, and politics. A country that rejects immigrants is one that should resign itself to being an isolationist and protectionist backwater, likely one where the “pure” natives are aging without anyone to care for them.

An honest migration debate would start with “these people are on the move because they think there’s no future where they come from, and they’re planning to settle and stay”

No, it would start with “why do they think there’s no future where they come from?” That debate won’t happen when the wealthy and stable countries they want to go to won’t acknowledge their own culpability in that regard.

In Europe the liberal politicians are still afraid to admit this basic fact - the migrants which are able to afford smugglers

If by “afford” you mean place themselves and their families into decades of debt servitude to smugglers then it’s the right-wing politicians who aren’t admitting things.

The debates of the Roma are frankly a bit naive - they don’t really want to become Italian per se, disregarding bigotry. Just like the European Jews never really wanted to become assimilated with the locals.

Both the Roma and the Jews are still citizens, which is all that should matter.

And the idea that European Jews never really wanted to become assimilated with the locals in European countries is an anti-Semitic canard. Worse, it’s a no-win one, to the point where Jews who attempted to completely shed their heritage and identity and beliefs to blend in have been considered dangerous in their own right from the Spanish Inquistion right through to Jud Suss. You may or may not be intentionally pushing that nonsense but either way now is a good time to stop doing it on this particular site (our mod will be glad to explain why).

And despite the US experience, most of the world is not really cosmopolitan; otherness may be tolerated, but it’s hardly respected.

The percentage of humans on the planet living in cities and large towns is projected to reach 60% in 12 years. If most of the world can’t abandon their provincial bumpkinism and fear of the other by then they might as well stay in the rural backwaters and dead-end small towns and restricted exurbs. Otherwise they’d better start getting on board with cosmopolitanism (“rootless” or not).

If the economic frustrations where addressed, the threat of escalating bigotry would be defused.

The only politicians addressing those economic frustrations in a way that would also dampen escalating bigotry are those to the left of the Third Way “liberals” in Western countries.

As for the Roma, landless national statehood is unlikely to be recognized in my lifetime, protection by higher entities (like the EU) would be the best once could hope for.

Here’s a wild thought: how about citizens enjoying protection from nation-states that grant that citizenship by birth or naturalisation? I know it’s a difficult concept for many on the right to grasp, but one can be both a Roma (or a Jew) and an Italian citizen at the same time.


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