Last week, Silvio Berlusconi's new rightwing Italian administration announced plans to carry out a national registration of all the country's estimated 150,000 Gypsies - Roma and Sinti people - whether Italian-born or migrants. Interior minister and leading light of the xenophobic Northern League, Roberto Maroni, insisted that taking fingerprints of all Roma, including children, was needed to "prevent begging" and, if necessary, remove the children from their parents.
The ethnic fingerprinting drive is part of a broader crackdown on Italy's three-and-a-half million migrants, most of them legal, carried out in an atmosphere of increasingly hysterical rhetoric about crime and security. But the reviled Roma, some of whose families have been in Italy since the middle ages, are taking the brunt of it. The aim is to close 700 Roma squatter camps and force their inhabitants out of the cities or the country. In the same week as Maroni was defending his racial registration plans in parliament, Italy's highest appeal court ruled that it was acceptable to discriminate against Roma on the grounds that "all Gypsies were thieves", rather than because of their "Gypsy nature".
Gypsies identified in the census will receive a card giving them access to Italy's social and health services...
I can't find a reference online, but on NPR tonight the presenter discussed an Italian Jew who brought in her Mussolini-era registration card and compared it to the Roma registration cards being issued today.
Several of the right-wing commentators we think about every day (notably Glenn Beck, who I was just mocking in the previous post) are moral fellow-travellers to Maroni and his Northern League. Most of them are such buffoons, I for one tend to forget that. My Lord Hee Haw comparison was not idle.