His English isn’t very good, but the guy sure knows how to communicate with dogs. Whenever he sees me taking Pixel out for a walk, Antonello turns into a magnet. Within seconds, Pixel is at his feet, wagging his tail, as though he and our doorman have known each other for years.
However, get on the subject of politics, and Antonello is a completely different beast. Spying my camera the other day, he asked if he could take a look. Not realizing it was still on, I handed it to him, displaying this campaign poster. “I am Lega Nord,” he said rather nervously.
One of Italy’s biggest rightist parties, and a member of the present governing coalition, the Lega Nord (Northern League, in English), is well-known for its anti-immigrant platform. “What interests you about this poster?” Not knowing how to put it, I replied “I’m Jewish. The refugee ship evokes memories.”
Antonello cleared his throat. Then, after a moment’s silence, he began to speak again. “You Jews are alright,” he stated, looking me right in the eye. “You people work hard, you study, you obviously have money. But these Africans and Muslims, they’re lazy and they’re poor. The come to Italy and cause lots of problems.”
I don’t know why I expected otherwise. By the time I figured out how to formulate a proper response in Italian, Antonello was gone, headed down the hallway towards Viale Andrea Dorea. If only I’d worked a little faster, to remind him that in Italy Jews aren’t foreigners, that we’ve been here for well over 2000 years.
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