Remaining in Denial

I found both of these articles to be very interesting and a great way to summarize what we should be thinking about today, with regards to Italian colonialism, as well as how others are looking and reacting to colonialism today. Both articles seemed to come to very similar conclusions: that the Italians were not thinking about colonialism and avoiding the subject all together and that the colonized were thinking about it quite a bit.

Many articles we have read claim that the Italians could make up, partially, for what they did in the colonies by apologizing and actually recognizing that it happened. A thought came to my mind while reading the Del Boca article during the part where it mentions the banning of Lion of the Desert in Italy. The article said that, “The government fears public exposure of one of the most shameful episodes of Italian colonialism: the hanging of an authentic patriot who was then seventy-four years old.” Here I could not help but think that if the Italian government had allowed the discussion and teaching of their colonization, then this movie would be “less-shameful” and more educational so as to not repeat the past which was a topic mentioned towards the end of the Labanca article.

I do agree that the Italian government is wrong to cover up their entire history of colonialism so as not to embarrass themselves and I am also a strong believer in the idea of learning from the past. They should indeed acknowledge their past actions and learn for them as well as apologize for them in a more profound manner rather than in the vague comments they have made in the past. Even while Del Boca was quoting certain things politicians have said that were considered apologizing, I could not help but think that they sounded nothing like apologizes. Instead they sounded like stated facts. For example, while D’Alema was in Tripoli, he said, “. . . here the national heroes were executed by Italians.” Yes, this is true but it is still not an apology.

One other thing that I struggle with, and that I am glad that Del Boca’s article brought up was “quantify” all of the crimes that the Italians committed against the colonized in terms of money? The answer may be first that the Italians can take steps to apologize and then from there they can move forward.

In the end, I liked the quote, “. . . and Italy’s colonial past in Libya, remain to this day – one way or another- an embarrassment for contemporary Italy.” Sometimes, bad and “embarrassing” things happen, but it is almost better to admit that they happened rather than to remain in denial.

Here is a picture that was taken during the 1999 visit of Massimo D'Alema to Libya. Here, he is meeting with Colonel Qadhafi.