'Biblical Exodus' From Africa Feeds Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric By Flavia Krause-Jackson - Mar 16, 2011 7:01 PM ET As boats carrying hundreds of Africans set sail for a better life in Europe, they were met on Italy's Lampedusa island with two words by a 5-foot, 8-inch blonde: go away.Note the reference to "a better life in Europe,"—that's immigration "rhetoric." Actual refugees aren't looking for a better life, they're looking to stay alive at all.
“They cannot be allowed on the shore,” Marine Le Pen, the 42-year-old leader of France’s anti-immigration National Front, said in a March 15 interview in Rome after a three-hour visit the previous day to Lampedusa. “Send boats out to feed them. But they must not set foot on land.”And the photograph of the invaders is captioned "Tunisian would-be immigrants wait for their belonging..." Would-be immigrants? I repeat that refugees aren't supposed to be immigrants. They are claiming to be fleeing for their lives. If a million—or ten million—refugees find a better life in Italy, it will only happen by making life worse for the Italians.
The island, a speck in the Mediterranean Sea closer to Tunisia than Sicily, is experiencing first-hand an immigration surge poised to spread to the rest of Europe and drive a deeper wedge in a north-south divide already tested by the sovereign- debt crisis.
“It’s evident that Italy has been abandoned by Europe,” Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said in Brussels on March 10 after a meeting with his European Union counterparts. “We can’t be the policeman of Europe.”
The month-long civil war in Libya between Muammar Qaddafi’s regime and rebel forces in the oil-rich east has left 6,000 people dead, driven crude prices to a 2 1/2-year high and unleashed what Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni, the country’s most popular politician, called a “biblical exodus.”
North of Rome, a backlash has already begun as Italy warns its neighbors that 70 percent of Africans washing up on its shores are headed to France and Germany to seek work..[More]