China first, then America. Federico Rampini in Italy there has been little. But the corresponding historian de The Republic with the lucid pragmatism that distinguishes him, he never stopped commenting on our own ‘quarrels’ from overseas. From the “empty din” on various and eventual kneeling of these days to the ambitions of a left, the Italian one, which seeks visibility and consent by marrying the ideological battles of celebrities. Up to the risk, with the advent of Draghi, of creating the usual myth of an Italy ‘model admired in the world’. His point of view, which, by refusing to conform to the now rampant politically correct, unmasks its underlying hypocrisies.
The European football championships have begun, but in Italy we only talk about the choice of the Azzurri to kneel or not before the starting whistle. She, who lives where that symbolic gesture against racism was born, has defined herself as “very perplexed” on the issue. Why?
“When millionaire celebrities from sports or film or pop-music embrace progressive causes, they do more harm than good. The media adore these pronouncements, the people distrust those who claim to defend them but live in the stratosphere. And let’s stop saying that they are courageous gestures when the establishment supports them: from when is conformity brave? “
Born as a movement that defends the rights of African Americans, what is Black Lives Matter really in the US?
“It has noble origins. Racism in the American police is a real plague. We have all seen the horrific death inflicted by white agent Derek Chauvin on George Floyd, a torture for which the cop will justly pay with 22 years in prison. And that’s not the only case. But Black Lives Matter has become an ultra-radical movement that interprets all of American history under the sole lens of racism. He allied himself with the forces of the politically correct who rule in universities, in the media, in publishing ”.
You have stated that BLM “has done more harm than good” in America, why?
“He has imposed on the left-wing mayors in many American cities the insane slogan ‘cut funds to the police’ The result is an escalation of violent crimes, a spike in murders. A rethinking is already underway in the face of this disaster. The mayor of New York Bill de Blasio first took away resources from the police then, quietly, restored them. But there was damage ”.
Do you know African Americans who do not feel represented by the movement?
“Everyone who plebiscated ex-cop Eric Adams in the Democratic primary to choose the next mayor of New York. Adams is African American and has received full marks among his people, in the most popular neighborhoods (Bronx, Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens), he came second only to Manhattan where radical chic whites live. African Americans are the first victims of the escalation of violence, when the police withdraw and abandon the territory to the gangs ”.
Do you know that Giorgia Meloni has also relaunched her speech? What effect does it have on her?
“Nobody. I have a habit of saying and writing what I think. I don’t calculate in advance who might take over my words. Once pronounced they belong to everyone ”.
You are certainly not known for being on the right. Do you think the same thing with reversed roles (a left-wing politician citing a right-wing journalist as an example) would have happened?
“In my small way – and this is not ritual modesty, I have no illusions about my influence – I try to explain to the Italian left that we must go back to the origins, regain the representation of the working classes. If the right mentions me, it is not proof that I ‘betrayed’. In the past, a strong and intelligent left knew how to respect and quote conservatives such as Indro Montanelli, the founder of Newspaper”.
The issue of rights, in addition to the agendas of political leaders, has also monopolized the world of football. From the gesture of kneeling to the proposal of the rainbow illuminated stadium in support of the LGBTQ community. Sentiment real dominant or empty rhetoric for the benefit of image?
“I think there is still too much homophobia in Italy. In America we are further ahead, especially among young people, the LGBTQ cause has won over. The space it continues to occupy in the media and in American public discourse is becoming a ritual homage to an already prevalent system of values ”.
Boldrini, Letta and others asked the Azzurri to kneel unanimously. But isn’t this an interference that limits freedom, exposing those who do not kneel to the media pillory?
“Politicians chasing media exposure misunderstand the role of celebrities. Cristiano Ronaldo will have a thousand times more followers on Twitter than myself, but this does not make him a master of values. Enrico Berlinguer did not entrust the players with the construction of a consensus among the masses, and he reached 35% “.
Was the national team right not to kneel?
“I avoid adding my opinion, irrelevant, to the empty din of these days. Do what they like, a knee more or less will not move the issue of racism by an inch “.
In Italy the left, the Democratic Party of Letta in particular, has chosen to ride a series of ideological battles. From ius soli to the Zan bill, to the vote for sixteen year olds. Is it the right move or so does it risk a boomerang in the electoral seat?
“I would first give sixteen year olds a good school, a useful training, to build job opportunities. Much of the European left follows the fluctuations of the American one with a delay. For years, US Democrats have lost contact with workers because they only pursued issues of values. Joe Biden is trying to bring them back on the right path, it is no coincidence that he has already had the first clashes with his radical left wing, which only thinks of university campuses ”.
Also because at the international level and in the United States, which you know well, Biden’s Democratic Party has a much more pragmatic imprint. I am thinking of the immigration theme and of Kamala Harris’ famous speech in Guatemala …
“Biden sent Kamala to Central America to say: the border remains closed and we will reject anyone who tries to cross it. We want to help you stay at your home. This is not just pragmatism. It is a return to the tradition of the left. Franklin Roosevelt was able to build advanced welfare because he kept the borders closed, ensuring that his social reforms would benefit a fairly homogeneous and cohesive society ”.
Among other things in Europe, the Draghi government, of which the Democratic Party is a part, seems to have embraced the interventionist line on the migration issue. Why then does the Italian left insist in words with the policy of open ports?
“Even in America we have the ‘no-border’ left, the most famous exponent is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Should it prevail, let us expect a republican comeback to the legislative of November 2022 ”.
Has the perception of Italy changed overseas with Draghi? Will it have an impact on EU-US relations?
“Draghi enjoys superlative esteem in the United States, hence changing the perception of Italy as a system, it takes some. Be careful not to re-create the myth of an Italy as a ‘model admired in the world’. It happened a year ago at this time, for a couple of articles in the foreign press about our response to the pandemic. It only brought a lot of bad luck ”.
And do you like Draghi? It seems to me that you have known each other since your university days …
“For an episode he can’t remember. I had moved from Bocconi to Sapienza because I had started working as a journalist in Rome. I went to a political economy exam quite unprepared, improvising. Draghi was the assistant of a great economist, Federico Caffè: it was the latter who promoted me, while Draghi wanted to expel me, with good reason. However, I never graduated. I started dating him professionally when he was general manager of the Treasury. Of course I like it, even if I haven’t shared all of his choices. The bailout of the euro has placed it in the Pantheon of the Gods. Saving Italy will be more difficult ”.
From Trump’s “America First” to Biden’s newfound multilateralism. Has foreign policy changed after Trump or do the divisive issues remain? I am thinking of tense diplomacy with Russia and open hostility with China …
“It has changed less than we think. From Trump to Biden on China there is a lot of continuity. The fundamental difference is that Biden believes in the role of alliances, he wants to enhance them to contain Xi Jinping’s expansionism. China, on the critical rethinking of a globalization that has damaged the working classes, Biden is closer to Trump than to the globalism of Bill Clinton or the first Obama ”.
Speaking of China, he wrote about the case of the Sars-CoV2 sequences missing from the database. In your opinion, who lived there in China and therefore knows it well, what is behind it? Will we ever know how it went?
“Precisely because I know her well, I doubt we will know the truth … before Xi Jinping’s disappearance.”
Citing his new play which will debut on July 4th, we will all die Chinese or not?
“Someone read in the title a double meaning referring to death from Covid. Actually in the show I try to identify with Xi Jinping. I tell the Italians what the Celestial Emperor thinks of us Westerners: that the time has come for our decadence. And therefore we will die in a world where the Chinese footprint will have become stronger and stronger ”.
Direct comparison between Italy and the USA. Who wins over freedom?
“America has a culture of individual liberties that is unique in the world, unmatched in the European tradition. But Roosevelt also included freedom from need in his ideals, and on that front America is a harsher society with the weak ”.
“America has won because it believes – even on the left – in the role of the company, and has given confidence to the pharmaceutical industry. The performance of vaccine discovery and production in record time has been exceptional ”.
“Italy has given up on having a foreign policy comparable to that of France or England because it is wary of the military instrument; comparisons with the United States make no sense”.
“Italy wins hands down. Americans who have taste venerate us as their teachers ”.
Food? There should be no match here. Or does it deny the prejudice that in America you eat badly?
“In America today we eat much better than thirty or forty years ago, also thanks to a new generation of Italian chefs (sometimes very young, perhaps arrived as waiters) who have carried out a work of education. But eating well in America is expensive, not in Italy ”.
What do you not miss from Italy when you are in America and from America when you return to Italy?
“I never lack bureaucracy in Italy, one of the most stupid and bad. Of America I don’t miss the nauseating homogeneity of the landscape of signs, the ‘chains’ that dominate everything, from hotels to bars ”.
Do you feel more American or Italian?
“Italian because the culture of the origins, of the parents, is the strongest. Grateful to America for wanting me as its citizen ”.
So what language do you dream in?
“I rarely remember dreams, except when they happen in half-sleep due to the jetlag of ocean crossings. I would say in Italian and sometimes in French, the other language of my childhood ”.