When it comes to racial integration and racism, the situation in Italy is truly appalling. It is disheartening to hear about the racist insults and even death threats received on a daily basis by Cécile Kyenge, the first black minister in an Italian government.
The problem is not only the racist slur of a bunch of idiots. Italians let these characters talk and express themselves in public without strong sanction and immediate marginalisation. People like the Italian senator Calderoli who proffered racial insults against minister Kyenge in other countries would never be invited for dinner or even coffee. In Italy they rise to the highest ranks: Calderoli was a cabinet member in Berlusconi’s governments, and is currently the vice-president of the Senate.
He has not resigned yet, and has no intentions to do so. Meanwhile the other politicians, the “good” ones, especially the centre-left, shout their indignation, but don’t seem for now to be doing much more than that.
John Foot from the Guardian says that “Italy is not a racist country, but it is a country where racism is tolerated and where a person like Calderoli has held institutional power.” This description is perhaps too charitable. The longer Italians persist in tolerating racism, the more racist they become.