ONTD Political

Italian lawmaker compares black politician to orangutan, causes uproar

3:16 am - 07/16/2013

Roberto Calderoli, an Italian senator, compared Cecile Kyenge, the country's first black Cabinet minister, to an orangutan. He also is quoted as saying that Kyenge's success has encouraged illegal immigration to Italy and that she should be a minister "in her own country."

There's been an uproar since he uttered the words, and there are calls for him to resign -- one news channel poll said more than 80% of viewers believe he should
. An online petition calling for his resignation has been started. Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta said the talk is "unacceptable beyond any limit."

It is the latest in a string of racial slurs and insults directed at Kyenge, a Congolese-born member of the Democratic Party. She assumed her integration minister post last April in the country's coalition government.

Calderoli, a member of the anti-immigration Northern League party, made the remarks this weekend at a political rally.

"I love animals -- bears and wolves, as everyone knows -- but when I see the pictures of Kyenge, I cannot but think of, even if I'm not saying she is one, the features of an orangutan," he was quoted as saying.

"If I've offended her," Calderoli said after his remarks were publicized, "I apologize."

"It was a joke, a comment in a joking way. There was nothing particularly against her. It was just my impression. ... It is all very well that she be a minister, but in her own country. Given that this government needs to govern Italy, I hope that it is done by Italians," he said.


Kyenge responded diplomatically, saying Calderoli "does not need to ask forgiveness to me, but he should rather reflect on the political and institutional role that he carries. It is on this that he needs to make a profound reflection also to then apologize.

"Also, he must go beyond putting everything on a personal level. I think the time has come for us to study the problem of communication," she said.

Kyenge moved to Italy in the 1980s to study medicine. She became an Italian citizen and is an ophthalmologist in Modena. Her ascent to a top position reflects the success of immigrants but also has fanned the flames of nativism.

She received death threats before visiting an area where the Northern League is powerful, and the reports of slurs have emerged persistently.

A local politician recently said on Facebook that Kyenge should be raped so she can understand the pain felt by victims of crime, which some politicians blame on immigrants.

She's been called a "Congolese monkey," "Zulu" and "the black anti-Italian." One Northern League official said "she seems like a great housekeeper," but "not a government minister."


Letta, who called the episode "shameful" and "intolerable," made an appeal to Northern League leader Roberto Maroni to "close this chapter right away."

If he doesn't, "we will enter a logic of complete confrontation which I don't believe he needs, no one needs it," Letta said. "Neither does the country need it."

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Source

This makes me sick.
ohmiya_sg 16th-Jul-2013 01:46 pm (UTC)
So France can colonize wherever, but those people can't become French. I see.
lied_ohne_worte 16th-Jul-2013 01:56 pm (UTC)
Err, while France has its problems in that regard, too, Italy != France.
ohmiya_sg 16th-Jul-2013 02:28 pm (UTC)
I do not think Italy = France, I confused them. o.O
the_physicist 16th-Jul-2013 02:10 pm (UTC)
I think you mean Italy, which was also a colonial power. But yeah, in this regard, 'same difference', although I think France has had more public debate on race in the media than Italy.

The right wing racist, xenophobic parties are on the rise in both countries though -_- .
ohmiya_sg 16th-Jul-2013 02:27 pm (UTC)
Oooh sorry, yeah. Sleepy! XD
yeats 16th-Jul-2013 07:30 pm (UTC)
what's uniquely fucked up about italian citizenship is that, while it's very difficult for someone born in italy to non-citizen parents to get it, it's insanely easy for descendants of italian citizens who live abroad. for example, i became an italian citizen this year (mostly because i wanted to be able to work in the EU), despite the fact that the last person to be born in italy was my great-grandfather, who emigrated to the us in 1921 and who died in 1944. it's absurd.

(and i know you got them confused, but i do want to point out for other people who might not know that france has one of the better laws in europe when it comes to ascription of citizenship to the children of non-citizen residents born in the country.)
squidger 16th-Jul-2013 01:51 pm (UTC)
Goddamn it, Italy. Fucking stop it.
dark_puck 16th-Jul-2013 02:00 pm (UTC)
People tell me that America is so much worse than Europe when it comes to racism, and I just laaaaaaaugh and laaaaaaaaaaaaugh. No, we're all pretty horrible, and this in particular is despicable.
lickety_split 16th-Jul-2013 06:34 pm (UTC)
People tell me that America is so much worse than Europe when it comes to racism, and I just laaaaaaaugh and laaaaaaaaaaaaugh.

MTE
iolarah 16th-Jul-2013 02:06 pm (UTC)
What an asshole. People who feel like Calderoli should have no right to work in politics.
the_physicist TW racism, violence, genocide16th-Jul-2013 02:17 pm (UTC)
members of that party have previously suggested opening fire on boats full of immigrants from Africa and to round up all the foreigners, dress them up as hares and start shooting at them. others were convicted of inciting racial hatred (though another court overturned that conviction). this party is fully of racist dickbags.
furrygreen 16th-Jul-2013 02:32 pm (UTC)
"If I've offended her,"

If? IF?

It was a joke, a comment in a joking way. There was nothing particularly against her.

Damn it! I need my hip waders to wade through this disgusting BS response.

This post deserves the 'you stay classy' tag if ever one did.
silmaril 16th-Jul-2013 02:57 pm (UTC)
I'll take "apologies that aren't" for $200, Alex. That one is textbook.

tabaqui 16th-Jul-2013 02:41 pm (UTC)
What an incredibly ugly and horrifying person he is. Jayzus.

I get the feeling that the GOP wish they could talk *just like this* about President Obama.

And, eta: Kyenge's reply is absolutely classy and smart. Puts his miserable self in the dust.

Edited at 2013-07-16 02:43 pm (UTC)
poetic_pixie_13 16th-Jul-2013 03:06 pm (UTC)
Kyenge's response was incredibly classy, but I can't say this is especially surprising. =/
rhysande 16th-Jul-2013 04:07 pm (UTC)
I'd never thought about that, but now that you've mentioned it... yeah.
ar_feiniel_ 16th-Jul-2013 05:23 pm (UTC)
It's almost there so you can look and decide if this really looks like an orangutan or not.

I think that's exactly why it's there.

On another note, awkwardly, there just happens to be an avatar of an oragutan on the featured posts dash. 0_o
skellington1 16th-Jul-2013 08:30 pm (UTC)
On the one hand, I totally think you're right.

On the other hand, I'm selfishly glad it's a picture of her, because I'm so tired of looking at pompous self-satisfied assholes.
rhysande 16th-Jul-2013 04:06 pm (UTC)
"It was a joke, a comment in a joking way. ..."

I am, so, so tired of people trying to wriggle out of the horrible things they've said by inferring that not only was there nothing wrong with what they said, the real problem is a lack of humor on the part of the person they just degraded.
maelithil 16th-Jul-2013 07:38 pm (UTC)
Fuck Italy. I left 8 years ago, and while the US isn't free of problems either, it is miles ahead of my shithole of a country. I am so ashamed that this is allowed to happen at the highest levels of government.
kitanabychoice @$!$!%@^#&%^*)_*_)^%$#%!$%^(*)&^*%&$^W#%@$$^#&16th-Jul-2013 09:06 pm (UTC)
A joke my ass.

And when I say there's practically nowhere in the world I can go to escape racism, people tell me I'm just exaggerating.
homasse 17th-Jul-2013 01:58 am (UTC)
Wow. The Northern League all sound like assholes.
homasse 17th-Jul-2013 01:37 pm (UTC)
...raging assholes of diarrhea. Damn.
alryssa 18th-Jul-2013 09:06 am (UTC)
Holy shit. Those are some truly awful, horrible human beings.
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