With Donald Trump, America discovers the gaffe that made Berlusconi’s Italy famous worldwide. Everybody in Europe is asking if there is any trace of Italian identity in the hemoglobin of the New York millionaire, one of those questions that precedes reassuring answers.
Locating and circumscribing squalor geographically is the old trick of the paranoid and frightened, whereas the former are the same as the latter, except that in them, fear has occupied all the available space.
After the era — famously depicted in the American cinema — of the Sicilian underworld gangster, now it is the turn of the vulgar, rich and womanizing man. And so all of us can see how many times, mathematically, Silvio Berlusconi fits inside Donald Trump.
The two are unpresentable billionaires, all money and sex scandals, circus freaks, with the transplanted hair, or worse, the hairpiece.
While misogynist Trump silences Hillary Clinton during the televised debates to conquer America, Italy celebrates the dismissal by Berlusconi of an even number birthday.
Italy is celebrating the 80th birthday of Silvio Berlusconi with a string of family photos and international gaffes. The family photos are provided by the apostles, “Silvio” cronies; the gaffes have been published by the detractors of the man who organized, among other things, parties with girls. They thought it was a good way to defeat him, to bear to all the scandal of an indefensible man.
On the one hand, therefore, there are photographs of Silvio Berlusconi surrounded by his children and grandchildren, the family’s patriarch, who runs with and for his heirs a flourishing empire made of soccer teams and telecommunications. On the other hand, there are the photographs of Silvio Berlusconi’s gestures that made him known to the world: the horns gesture with his hand at the summit of European Ministers in 2002, the hide and seek game played with Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2008, the sketch during the European Parliament in Strasbourg, in which he proposed to Martin Shulz the role of kapò in a film on the Nazi concentration camps that was being filmed at the time.
Among the sex scandals of the two men, between the arrogance shown on television with pride between the two forms of racism (maybe Trump, too, will come out to say that Obama is “tan”?), between the two economic recipes based on so much wealth in the hands of so few people — in the face of all this, they have the approval of millions of people. It’s short-sighted to look at the fool instead of looking at the crowd of hands applauding enthusiastically.
In Italy we have ignored those hands for 20 years, thinking — maybe presumptuously — that the monstrosity of a man who behaved in that way was obvious. Furthermore, we have amplified its message by laughing at it, turning it into a joke to be exported to the rest of the planet.
For 20 years, we forgot to look at whose hands were clapping frantically to express how much they liked to hear the words of the then president. And if we did, we would have realized that they were just like other hands, but they had no one seeking for their applause.
Italy was not interested in those hands, and Berlusconi did not care either, after having had their applause. So those hands ended up inside pockets with melancholy, hoping that sooner or later someone else would get them excited enough again to come out. This time it didn’t happen to Italy.
This alone, I believe, can be said of Donald Trump and Silvio Berlusconi. By turning the spotlight on the Monster, you end up leaving in the dark those who believe in him, the millions of poor people who think that politics can change their lives.
This happened in Italy, the United States, Greece and Germany. We should talk about the darkness that frightens us today.
Article published in German at Deutschlandradio Kultur and in Italian at il manifesto
Subscribe To Our Newsletter
Your weekly briefing of progressive news.