November 8, 2008

Unfortunate adjectives

Oh dear. Now that I can hold my head back up as an American, I must hang it down once again as an Italian.

Berlusconi did it again -- mouth before brain.

Oh well.

I believe his unfortunate comment that Obama is, "young, good-looking and suntanned" came from a place of unconsciousness not of malice or racism. He is just clueless and unfortunately not alone.

I know a few Asian-Americans here in Rome who are struggling with the constant assumption that they are someone's maid. One is a lawyer and recent arrival to the city. The innocent yet disturbing comments of her new Italian husband's friends leave her confused. How should she react? The children of another Asian-American / Italian couple are referred to by their friends at school as the "cinesine", although they are not even of Chinese origin. It is not with a mean intent, just unconsciousness.

So, at the top of the heap, Prime Minister Berlusconi refers to President-elect Barack Obama as, "suntanned" and continues to insist that he was just being "cute".

There is a long way to go. Wake up Italy.

a domani,
E

9 comments:

Dame Aurélie said...

OMG. Tell me about it! I am BELGIAN (european, blonde, but speaking Italian just fine), and people here refer to me as "la straniera"...
Berlusconi is a person I really can't stand, and knowing that he's running this country and represents the people, it makes me sick....

Jennifer said...

I still don't understand his comment. It wasn't cute and it doesn't even make sense! At least not to me.

gillian said...

check out this viral campaign that the prime minister has inspired

www.notspeakinginmyname.com.

Jeff said...

I'm with Jennifer. His comment doesn't even make sense. Only Berli would think that looks have something to do with diplomacy. He's so wrapped up in his looks he forgets that it's more important what you say and do!!! He's too stupid to be offensive.

Jeff

Anonymous said...

What I find so disturbing about Berlusconi is that not once, I repeat, NOT ONCE have I heard him apologize for a gaffe! On the contrary, he digs his grave even deeper by taking offense, as though he were the wronged party.

I am very sorry the Italians have such a character as their leader. They/we all deserve better.

How deep a grave the man is digging; when oh when will it close upon him?

What horrible thoughts he inspires in us, so contrary to an Obama.

Fern Driscoll said...

It seems to us that Italians make many unwarranted assumptions. Has your house been broken into? Gypsies or Albanians! Underlying this is an assumption that to be Italian is to be the most fortunate person in the world. But then, don't all national groups have similar biases? Anyway, Berlusconi's remark, stupid and unthoughtful as it was, is less damaging to the world than 8 years of American fiscal skulduggery.

Tui said...

Well said. I find Berlu's antics so... I don't even know what the adjective is, but I just sometimes find it hard to believe he's a real guy and not some character in a comedy skit!

Jessica said...

So right on with this post, it makes me sad because there are plenty of intelligent Italians out there who don't make these generalizations. Unfortunately I had to hear a friend last week be referred to as "una dei questi cinese" and when she replied that she was not, in fact, Chinese, the woman simply replied "allora, japanese." Umm, also not true but apparently these are the only 2 Asian nationalities in the minds of Italians. So annoying and I hope things move forward here...but there's a long way to go.

Anonymous said...

A stupid remark here and there would pass if we were not speaking about a highly dangerous character, owing in part to what he controls, the people he controls, and the difficulty of getting rid of him. The "antics" of my nephews and nieces amuse me, not those of Silvio Berlusconi!