Wednesday, September 24, 2008

WE ALL STINK

Believe me, I have thought long and hard about posting this, and upon in what manner to post it, too. Should I quote directly the words of Lampedusa's Mayor, on September 12th? I am damned if I do, and would be damned for cowardice, if I do not. Here are the alleged words, then: "Negro flesh stinks, even after it is washed". The Mayor says that the words have been taken out of context and that he was referring to the awful conditions at sea for those trying desperately to reach Italy in the heat of summer.
Let me say here that I understand, to a point, the frustration of those whose home is Lampedusa: their island is now better known as a Cpa ["First Welcome Centre"] for clandestini [would-be illegal immigrants] than as the beautiful island it is. And public services on the island are in a desperate state, as money has to be diverted from these to aiding the sad boatloads of sorrow that arrive almost hourly during this period of clear moons [but often unexpectedly rough seas].
Now the Regional Councillor for Culture has resigned, saying that he, too, "stinks": he agrees that the island finds itself in a terrible situation, but adds that one cannot attack the dignity of those who come to Italy for help in such a way.
I will not judge, here, the remarks of the Mayor, but I will say that if such a thing had been said in the UK, there would have been not only a local, but a nationwide outcry. Those who attack political correctness there would do well to remember why the concept ever saw light.

13 comments:

CherryPie said...

What a terrible situation!!!

Crushed said...

I agree with you on PC.

I often get called PC by people and I don't mind.

I think the principle is right, choosing language in a way takes note of other people's sensibilities and behaving generally in an inclusive, not an exclusive concept.

Like all social changes that need positive action, it has attracted zealots.

But the principle of political correctness is a good one, and I'm not ashamed to be seen as PC.

jmb said...

Mmm. I have come across quite a few statements in a similar vein while visiting your adopted country. I have had to bite my tongue since I was a guest. Hopefully eventually they will become more tolerant. I think I might fall into the pc brigade too on the whole.

cb said...

It is shameful and I agree (unsurprisingly perhaps!). Political correctness exists for a reason above and beyond ridicule. In this situation, it is easy to feel more could be done by a central or even regional government in assisting people arriving in Lampedusa to move on. But that doesn't excuse dehumanising other humans. Thanks for drawing attention to it.

TBRRob said...

The problem with PC is it encourages the idea that certain opinions and debates should not be mentioned. They are off limits.

Your Mayor should be free to say what he wants. Because logically he'll face the consequences if he offends public opinion.

jams o donnell said...

Well said Welshcakes. PC is maligned but if it consigns such ignorant statements to the dustbin then I'm all for it.

Wolfie said...

Lets get this straight; the Mayor is an Italian man and they are somewhat renowned for their short tempers and foul language so ruminating on the detailed semantics of what he said seems pretty pointless. Lets cut to the chase - the man is clearly very angry.

The question to ask is really "Is he justified in his anger?"

If the public services are really collapsing as you say then probably yes because without investment in public services there will be no beautiful future for Lampedusa, for its current resident or its children.

Regardless of the conditions which the clandentini have fled they have come to take something which they have not earned, worked for or posses. If the Italians do not wish or by virtue of the numbers are unable to give resources to the newcomers then it is effectively theft. Some might call it invasion. It disturbs me in London to see those who come in such circumstances feel that they have a right to what we have, what we and our ancestors have worked for without any requirements from them to integrate, work hard or be polite even. To be justified in taking what is not yours simply on the basis that the other has something (or more) that you possess is nothing more than the thieves charter and if it is the modern way to give succour to thieves then intemperate language be damned - something stinks.

Winchester whisperer said...

What an unfortunate remark - let's see how long he remains in the post

James Higham said...

Don't think it had anything to do with PC. Surely most decent people would decry these remarks.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, cherrypie. Yes, dreadful. I agree with you upon the principle, Crushed. Agree, jmb. The Itals don't mince theor words, but I've yet to meet one who doesn't have some sympathy for the clandestini and theor plight. Thanks for your comment, cb. I agree that it was a most ill-judged remark. tbrrob, yes, to a point. But it is hardly helpful to stir up even more hatred in such a situation. Thanks, jams and I agree. Hi, Wolfie. Yes, he is angry and he has reason to be. I would be angry too if I lived there. But I can see only more trouble if such remarks [and let us remember they are alleged] are not challenged. WW - yes, ill-advised, at the least. I would hope so, James.

Tony Sharp said...

I agree James. This is not about not being PC, it is about making a crude comment about a group of people identified by their ethnicity. PC is a scourge that is abused to stifle debate. But the blatant racist comment in this case is far worse.

Ellee Seymour said...

I certainly wouldn't want to be represented by such a bigoted politician.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Tony, I agree that the remark was completely outrageous. But I do think PC has a role to play because I can remember when such things could have been said in the UK with impunity. Ellee, nor would I, but he does have reason to be angry, although that anger has been expressed in a terribke way [though I should say here that I have been unable to find the original context].

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