Saturday, 27 May 2017

Taormina, oafs and whores

The Euro press was not amused by President Trump's rough handling of their leaders at the G7 in Taormina. 'Oafish' said one; 'Boor in Chief' said Handelsblatt. Burdick and Lederer's Ugly American had resurfaced in Europe, it seemed. But Macron, Merkel and some bloke called Gentiloni who is supposed to be Italy's Prime Minister are not only isolated from Sicily's present day realities in their sumptuous and secure luxury but I'll bet are missing any idea of what Taormina represented in 1943.

Today, Sicily is filled with Maghrebi and sub-Saharan African migrants, in the absence of work or benefit begging, stealing, whoring. The advance guard of several millions of economic migrants preparing to cross the Med into Europe's underbelly their purpose is in sharp contrast to the US forces and British 8th Army waiting there in 1943 ready to invade the Italian mainland. Fresh from victory in North Africa, they too had crossed the Med to Sicily - and after cruel battle there took a brief and deserved rest before the final slog Northwards up the Italian mainland. That late Summer of 1943 was by all accounts perfect. Not only Alan Moorehead but Alan Whicker were there, having bagged themselves billets of some comfort, as had the war artist Edward Ardizzone. 

Trump's real anger at Euro NATO defence free-riding is understandable given the tangible sacrifice of British and American lives that made their Federation possible. He can be excused a certain oafishness at their selfish and self-interested parsimony. He pointedly refrained from committing more American blood in their defence if it happens again. To put Taormina in context, I reproduce below a brief note of Whicker's war-world. And an Ardizzone sketch lest we forget. 

Ardizzone- In Sicily, fighting

17 comments:

formertory said...

We spent 10 days in Sicily at the end of last month. There seems scarcely a flat surface anywhere in Palermo that hasn't received the unattractive attentions of a tagger and as a complete guess I'd suggest that 10-15% of the magnificent old houses are uninhabitable and in serious danger of structural failure. Some are supported by a steelwork exoskeleton.

African migrants are everywhere, though perhaps not quite as many as I'd feared; the females (a small proportion of the total) are all in various stages of pregnancy. The males sell trinkets on the streets; what very quickly became obvious, though, is that there's an organisation behind their activities. Someone is making massive amounts of money - when it rained one day, the trinkets simply disappeared and all the migrants were suddenly selling umbrellas - and all identical umbrellas, at that. When the rain stopped, back came the trinkets.

Someone is training them, too. Most speak English to some extent, many speak good English. The approach is always the same - big confident smile, "Hello my friend, where are you from?" and then a trinket is offered "as a gift to you". Then the punch line - "I have a wife and children to support, can you help us to eat today? Just a euro....". We saw no evidence of wives and children, but some evidence of groups of migrants sharing rooms in derelict or semi-derelict houses.

Palermo is just a mess. Magnificent palazzos, churches and cathedrals, superb museum of the Inquisition's various horrors in the 1600s; the rest is falling apart. Syracuse old town is lovely and Catania is rather nice. Both have fewer migrants than Palermo but they're still there. The unemployment rate amongst 16-24 year-olds is in excess of 75% - the only jobs seem to be in shops or restaurants.

The coastguard has a fleet of the biggest RIBs I've ever seen; I'm guessing, but I estimate them at at least 70 feet long, with inboard engines and jet drives. They are seriously, seriously fast - possibly the fastest water taxis in the world since they spend much of their time at 50 knots ferrying migrants from off the Libyan coast to Sicily.

Sorry to be a little o/t here but I was mightily dismayed by what Sicily is becoming. It was the first time I'd been, and the TV programmes - Alex Polizzi / Andrew Graham-Dixon and Gino Locatelli - paint a picture of incredible (if sometimes faded) elegance and natural beauty. The reality is pretty desperate - the EU Head of Eurozone Finance Ministers who got himself into political correctness trouble a few weeks ago by suggesting that Italy has a choice to make between a European future or an African one nailed it in one.

Sicily is caught badly between Italy's economic problems and the strictures of the eurozone, and its geographical position as a highly convenient entry point to Europe. And there's always someone who'll find a way to make money in those circumstances. I was glad to get home, frankly. I'll be even more glad when (if?) we ever get out of the EU's claws although my confidence fades daily as Theresa May is publically exposed as weak, vacillating and not awfully bright - I mean, we could have Corbyn as PM, FFS, the way she's going on.

Anonymous said...

Great Ardizzone drawing.

I think the Mafia has prevented any real economic progress in Sicily for generations. The migrants are just a finishing touch.

The prospect of Corbyn and his gang in government is terrifying. The pound would drop like a stone, then inflation would shoot up. Venezuela here we come.

Don Cox

Poisonedchalice said...

"They would not listen
They're not listening still
Perhaps they never will"

Don McLean

Demetrius said...

The comment by formertory is very interesting. My Uncle Jim broke a leg in Tripoli playing football in 1943 and was very glad to have missed Sicily. A good many of his mates died there. I suspect the EU leaders did not show some respect for the fallen. Also, I suspect Trump may have been well aware of the many Americans whose remains are there.

Anonymous said...

“The man of the future will be of mixed race. The races and classes of today will gradually disappear due to the elimination of space, time, and prejudice. The Eurasian-negroid race of the future, similar in appearance to the Ancient Egyptians, will replace the diversity of peoples and the diversity of individuals. Instead of destroying European Judaism against her will, refined and educated this people, driving them to their future status as a leading nation through this artificial evolutionary process. It’s not surprising that the people that escaped from the Ghetto-Prison, became the spiritual nobility of Europe. Thus, the compassionate care given by Europe created a new breed of aristocrats. This happened when the European feudal aristocracy crashed because of the emancipation of the Jews [due to the actions taken by the French Revolution]” - Count Coudenhove-Kalergi

The European Council awards the Coudenhove-Kalergi prize (also known as the Charlemagne Prize) for the biggest contribution to White European genocide - former recipients are Tony "rub their noses in diversity" Blair and Angela "let them all in" Merkel.

One of the big guns behind it:

“To achieve One World Government it is necessary to remove from the minds of men their individualism, their loyalty to family traditions and national identification.” Brock Chisholm, speaking as director of the UN World Health Organization.

We seriously dodged a bullet by voting to leave the EU:

“I will have the last word,” Mitterrand replied. “Her island, it’s me who will destroy it. Her island, I swear that soon it will no longer be one. I will take my revenge on the upstart English. I will tie England to Europe, despite its natural tendency for isolation. Yes. I will succeed where Napoleon III failed.” Mitterand speaking to his aide, Migouli, when he was Premier of France.

Have a nice weekend.

Steve

formertory said...

@ Don Cox

Time to get stocked up?.

terence patrick hewett said...

I think what many continentals do not appreciate is just how American, President Trump is: he could have jumped out of the pages of Mark Twain or the screen of Deadwood. They seem to equate his US brashness and vulgarity with stupidity. Big mistake.

Cascadian said...

Reading reports from G7+EU emphasizes just how useless the organization is, alongside UN, EU, IMF, ECB etc etc. Fiddling around with non-existent climate change issues while a gimmegrant crisis of epic proportions which will undoubtedly bring multiple thousands more ISIS combatants is on their doorstep. A truly shocking display of arrogance and stupidity.

Trump is a breath of fresh air, a leader who actually represents his country's interests, no wonder the eurinal club members are so dismayed (that includes of course Turdeau (Canada)). He understands the issue that will engulf them.

May missed a golden opportunity to side with the US on free trade against the EU, as feared she appears out-of-her-depth, or was she engrossed with the acceptance of multiple hundreds of thousands of gimmegrants too?

Trump is smart enough to wring concessions from the euro-weenies if he finally signs onto the disastrous Paris accord, I would guess a largish import duty on cars, wine and foodstuff, all of which could easily be replaced with better quality US built or grown products.

DeeDee99 said...

The arrogant European Elite aren't used to being told the truth, in plain language. I thoroughly enjoyed watching them squirm whilst Trump gave them a tongue lashing.

Johnny Downes said...

I remember Edward Ardizzoni as a prolific illustrator of childrens' books. As I recall (and it was a long time ago) every other book I read in the 1950s and early 60s bore his artwork, which was instantly recognisable.

Anonymous said...

In 1942-3, Oxford University Press published a series of eight little books called "War Pictures by British Artists". Each contains 48 monochrome reproductions.

Ardizzone's work is well represented, especially in the "Army" and "Soldiers" volumes.

It's not too hard to find copies.

Don Cox

Weekend Yachtsman said...

Of course it's true that there is a terrible self-inflicted refugee problem in Sicily (Lampedusa is even worse, for obvious reasons); it's also true that we are the world's biggest suckers for using our navies to give anyone who wants it a free ferry service across the Med, instead of politely but firmly taking them back to the beaches they started from. In a generation or two, we will pay for this by the destruction of our civilisation. All true, if sad.

But a little proportion in other matters, please. The black men with trinkets/umbrellas/trinkets happens all over Italy; they are just a slick in Venice, for example, and have been for years - before the current wave started. Of course someone is making money from this, and in Palermo you don't really need to ask who, do you? Palermo itself has been crumbling for years; I guess that the "friends of friends" are waiting for the Palazzi to collapse so that they can throw up shoddy apartment blocks on the sites - look what happened to the Conca D'Oro in the sixties.

All of this is a tragedy, but the worst part of it is, that we're doing it to ourselves.

I weep for my grandchildrens' world - except that it won't be theirs of course, especially if they are women.

Anonymous said...

This BBC report about the town in Pakistan which many immigrants in Britain come from is interesting.

To me, their attitude seems to be much the same as that of the British colonials in India. Make money, don't mix with the natives, come back home to retire in comfort.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-40059831

leila said...

I thought the cost of the NATO headquarters at 1.25B was eye watering. Was the UK ever asked for approval? Trump said he hadn't asked the price! Very diplomatic, and they think he's boorish. My son has placed £50 on a Corbyn win, the buzz in London is it's likely. The Amazon offer looks timely.

Ravenscar. said...

"They seem to equate his US brashness and vulgarity with stupidity. Big mistake."


I do like Mr. Trump, he certainly knows how to talk to the Communists even if they crossed over the wall. Yup, just very similar vein to the Gipper himself, they all thought he was tad thick too, and how the left wing weasels [on both sides of the pond] hated Reagen, and the same with Prez. Donald J. Trump.

All power to yers Donald, let them think you're thick, it's a very good play or, like a nuclear sub, not much to see on the surface but boy, and underneath - it's all going on and with such a smack, per pound.

anon 2 said...

Yes, Ravenscar @ 00:58. Spot on.
Your point about their thinking we're thick, btw. That's their default position: they just can't imgagine that intelligence exists beyond their own cognizance.

And if, just if, an individual provides evidence to the contrary . . . My, oh my! Talk about paranoia and 'phobia as the "mirror cracks." So, to prevent it's "shattering to bits", they all gang up and cause-stalk ad infinitum, and with as much help from the Mafia and the Mozzies as they can muster.

That's what they're doing to Trump (even though he's not defenceless).

G. Tingey said...

I saw some of this shit on Frog TV in a Paris bar ( v nice long weekend, thank you very much)
DT's behaviour, as usual, was that of a complete wanker.
He & Juncker make a proper pair of arseholes