The Corner


The Italian Public’s Concerns Are Legitimate

Campaign posters in Pomigliano D’Arco, near Naples, Italy, February 21, 2018. (Alessandro Bianchi)

Imagine if overall unemployment in the country was more than three times its current rate. Imagine if youth unemployment in the U.S. was at 35 percent. And imagine if hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people from sub-Saharan Africa were constantly landing on the shores and coming into the country. A U.S. election in such circumstances might have a certain piquancy. And American voters might feel justifiably angry if every way they turned in their voting options, they were told that they were fascists.

But that is how much of the international press has once again responded to the Italian elections. The “Italy is turning fascist” stories have been run in almost all the international media. CNN’s Ruth Ben-Ghiat is currently going with a “The fascists did scarily well” headline. In fact, it is the bizarre Five Star Movement (a party which almost defies conventional definition), which came out best, with 32 percent of the vote. Nevertheless, the coalition of right-wing parties, which includes the League and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, looks able to cobble together some type of a government.

The reaction to this is fascinating, because it is the same as the reaction whenever the people respond sharply to sharp events which are happening to their country. Such interpretation betrays a woefully ignorant and simplistic perspective on a complex situation.

There was a time when the Italian public voting “incorrectly” might draw unending disdain from the governments as well as media in allied countries. There was a time when people might have shrugged and said, “Well, that’s Italy.” But what is striking after Sunday’s result is that such a shrug may not be able to work for much longer. In Germany, Angela Merkel has only just managed, after almost half a year, to put together a governing coalition. The official opposition party in the German Parliament is now the only five-year-old Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. Everywhere the people are trying to voice their concerns about a set of issues, which in Europe are dominated by concerns about immigration. And everywhere they are told that their routes to express these concerns are illegitimate or fascist.

Perhaps Germany will turn out to be the wake-up that European politics so badly needs. At most, the results of the Italian elections will nudge that wake-up call on its way. But at some point, there has to be a realization, from Rome, Brussels, and — most crucially — Berlin that the public is voicing concerns which are legitimate. The spotlight focused on what genuinely far-right, fascist parties as exist can and must be kept up. But it is becoming increasingly untenable to pretend that the concerns that the people keep expressing should not at some point become concerns that their elected representatives respond to.

Douglas Murray — Douglas Murray is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

Most Popular

PC Culture

Hate-Crime Hoaxes Reflect America’s Sickness

On January 29, tabloid news site TMZ broke the shocking story that Jussie Smollett, a gay black entertainer and progressive activist, had been viciously attacked in Chicago. Two racist white men had fractured his rib, poured bleach on him, and tied a noose around his neck. As they were leaving, they shouted ... Read More

White Progressives Are Polarizing America

To understand how far left (and how quickly) the Democratic party has moved, let’s cycle back a very short 20 years. If 1998 Bill Clinton ran in the Democratic primary today, he’d be instantaneously labeled a far-right bigot. His support for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Defense of Marriage Act, ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Strange Paradoxes of Our Age

Modern prophets often say one thing and do another. Worse, they often advocate in the abstract as a way of justifying their doing the opposite in the concrete. The result is that contemporary culture abounds with the inexplicable — mostly because modern progressivism makes all sorts of race, class, and ... Read More
PC Culture

Fake Newspeople

This week, the story of the Jussie Smollett hoax gripped the national media. The story, for those who missed it, went something like this: The Empire actor, who is both black and gay, stated that on a freezing January night in Chicago, in the middle of the polar vortex, he went to a local Subway store to buy a ... Read More

One Last Grift for Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders, the antique Brooklyn socialist who represents Vermont in the Senate, is not quite ready to retire to his lakeside dacha and so once again is running for the presidential nomination of a party to which he does not belong with an agenda about which he cannot be quite entirely ... Read More
Film & TV

A Sublime Christian Masterpiece of a Film

‘There are two ways through life -- the way of nature and the way of grace,” remarks the saintly mother at the outset of The Tree of Life, one of the most awe-inspiring films of the 21st century. She continues: Grace doesn’t try please itself. It accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked, accepts insults ... Read More
PC Culture

Changing Reality with Words

The reinvention of vocabulary can often be more effective than any social protest movement. Malarial swamps can become healthy “wetlands.” Fetid “dumps” are often rebranded as green “landfills.” Global warming was once a worry about too much heat. It implied that man-made carbon emissions had so ... Read More