I know that its the week before Christmas and that I should be blogging about shopping, panettone and peace and goodwill on earth but something is happening in my back yard that has shifted my attention momentarily. Not since I lived in South Africa have I been reminded that racism and apartheid never really die, they may get packed away with the Xmas lights only to resurface another day. Well it appears to have been brought out just in time for this festive season in La Bella Italia.
It’s a good thing that when Joseph and Mary hastily packed and fled from Nazareth they remembered to bring along their GPS. Had they relied on Mary’s route planner written on a leaf or Joseph’s sense of direction, they might have ended up in Coccaglio, a town in the province of Brescia in northern Italy. Once there, they wouldn’t even have been allowed to check into a dive on the outskirts of town to prepare for the birth night let alone find accommodations with the perfect manger. They would have been stopped long before and asked to produce their documents, valid residence permits and to state the reasons for their trip.
The right-wing council along with its Northern League Mayor, Franco Claretti, instructed the police to carry out house to house searches and a general roundup of up the 450 non-EU citizens with a clear order to deport them if their papers weren’t in order. Claudio Abiendi, Northern League Councillor for Security stated: “Christmas isn’t a welcome Festival, it’s a Christian tradition that celebrates our identity”.
This operation, designed to rid the town of all non-EU citizens, was named White Christmas because the initiative is due to end on Christmas day.
Good thing Bethlehem didn’t have such a welcome committee or immigrant purge policy in place or we might not be embracing any of the values and traditions that Christmas actually celebrates and stands for (and I am not talking about the nauseating secular aspects of Xmas that have been adopted by virtually every country on earth, even those with just a handful of Christians) and nor would millions of Christians the world over be commemorating the day that a poor, defenseless child of migrant parents was welcomed to the world.
The Italians have said something about their Christian traditions and identities and I am not sure that I like what they are saying.