July 10, 2003


National Review hails the happy Italians:

The Berlusconi affair illustrates how completely humorless and thin-skinned the European political elite and their media have become, especially since the war in Iraq.

But the lesson for Americans is that at least for the moment we have found our natural European allies and they aren't British after all. They're the happy Italians. They don't care about European pomposity, they dress better than the Germans, they eat better than the French, they drive better than anybody, and they make stupid jokes about American TV. They're just like us!

Go say hi to Cose Turche, blogging up a feast of fun in Italy.

Posted by Tim Blair at July 10, 2003 07:44 PM

So, for the second time in a week or so, the Germans are outraged by a joke. And then they wonder why people say they haven't a sense of humour. Is humour banned in the new Giscard constitution?

Posted by: Dave F at July 10, 2003 at 08:07 PM

Ordinarily my reaction to any piece that says nice things about Americans is to nod in happy agreement. But anyone who thinks we drive like Italians must be on drugs.

Posted by: Paul Zrimsek at July 10, 2003 at 10:25 PM

he certainly illustrated how thin skinned people are these days......but anyone who seriously thinks that it was particularly funny or witty needs a head check. it was a seriously lame o comment.

a german criticises you. call them a nazi. mustve taken him ages to think that one up.

Posted by: Tom at July 10, 2003 at 11:12 PM

Joke? What joke? He called them Nazis. I think he was just pointing out that they're national socialists.

If it's funny, it's 'cause it's true.

Posted by: E.A. at July 11, 2003 at 12:20 AM

Yes. Your right. National Socialists are Nazi's.
You and Silvio should get together and work out a stunning array of witty asides to level the political playing field.

"hey beazley...you're......fat!"
"oy! Andrew Sullivan.....i heard you're....snigger snigger.....GAY!"

high class wit is so rare these days that its great to see it rear its head occasionally.

Posted by: Tom at July 11, 2003 at 01:53 AM

The comment wasn't particulalry funny. The reaction to it was priceless.

Posted by: Sean E at July 11, 2003 at 01:56 AM

It was an ad hominem attack, but the other guy started it. ;->=

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at July 11, 2003 at 03:36 AM

I guess I should have pointed out that very few media carried the slurs uttered at Busceloni by the guy he then suggested should be cast as a Kapo/capo(?).

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at July 11, 2003 at 03:37 AM

I'm beginning to feel quite an affection for Silvio. He appears to have panache and a sense of humor, so unlike all those other earnest good doggies amongst Europe's ruling class. So he needled a Kraut - what a sin! WWII is recent history and people are still living with the raw memories. In my view, the German people still have a lot of repair work to do, and the sooner they face this, the better.

His real crime is that he won't play the political game like almost everyone else in Europe, and for that he must be punished.

For the courage and decency of the Italians in assisting the removal of that monster, Saddam Hussein, I say "Viva Italia and bravissimo Berlusconi!"

Posted by: Karen at July 11, 2003 at 03:41 AM

Crucial background info for Silvio's capo remark provided by the Nat Review article:

"Berlusconi, whose TV network in Italy used to show endless reruns of Hogan's Heroes, said Schulz should look into a showbiz career because he would do well playing a Nazi prison camp guard referring apparently to Sgt. Schultz, the zeppelin-shaped camp fixer in the TV series, which is now being made into a movie in Italy"

So, now we will have a deluge of "spaghetti sitcoms" ?

Posted by: Carl NH at July 11, 2003 at 03:59 AM

Sooo rather then a sadistic bastard he was calling him a bungling fool. Works for me either way.

Posted by: Charlie Greene at July 11, 2003 at 04:22 AM

Point being, T, that German political continuity has in reality been astonishing.

Posted by: E.A. at July 11, 2003 at 05:19 AM

Indeed, the Italians are everything the French like to imagine they are: they have better food, better fashion, more history, and a livelier, more beautiful langauge; they work less, screw more, drive faster, and make better wine. All hail Italia, home of the true Latins!

Posted by: Evan McElravy at July 11, 2003 at 05:29 AM


Except the Italian PM didn't imply the MEP was a Nazi. He suggested that the German play a kapo, and the vast majority of kapos were not Nazis. A kapo was a concentration camp prisoner who cooperated with the camp administration in exchange for special treatment. Very few Nazis were sent to the camps as prisoners.

Posted by: Warmongering Lunatic at July 11, 2003 at 06:29 AM

So is everyone here ok with calling Italians "wogs" or "grease-balls"? It's about the same thing.

It's not a matter of humour, an Italian government offcial insulted a neighbouring country and was expecting what? A bunch of roses?

As far as driving skills go, well.. the skills displayed as road users here in Victoria are no better than the rest and since Melburnites are amongst the worst drivers I've ever come across that is no compliment.

Posted by: Jake D at July 11, 2003 at 04:00 PM

"WWII is recent history and people are still living with the raw memories. In my view, the German people still have a lot of repair work to do, and the sooner they face this, the better."

Karen, if i remember correctly, the Italians were fairly strongly on the Nazi side of the fence in WW2. It would be, by your logic, just as apt to make fascist or blackshirt jokes about silvio as it is to make holocaust jokes to a german.

And if WW2 is "recent history", still inspiring "raw memories"....then so is the Klu Klux Klan.

Posted by: Tom at July 11, 2003 at 09:44 PM

Tom, I don't think one can really call the Italians "strong on the Nazi side". One of my relatives fought in North Africa in WW2. His feeling was that, even if the Italian soldiers were on the side of the Axis, none of them were terribly happy to be there. One assumes that they were a lot happier with the things Italians do best (food, sex, wine, etc) than creating the Aryan paradise. Moreover, even Mussolini at his worst never came close to emulating Auschwitz. That alone says a lot about the difference between the two countries: Italians have did not blot their own copybook so horribly with the death camps. The Germans did - which is why, I think, most Germans need to be constantly reminded that they have really been allowed to rejoin the human race. And this is why they reacted so savagely to Silvio - he rubbed their noses into the worst pool of shit ever created by them or anyone.

Posted by: Evil Right-Wing Bastard at July 11, 2003 at 10:15 PM

"even if the Italian soldiers were on the side of the Axis, none of them were terribly happy to be there"

So you really think every individual german soldier and citizen was really happy to be a Nazi? Strange worldview you've got there.

The Italians werent strongly on the Nazi side? Tokyo. Rome. Berlin. That was the axis man.

Posted by: Tom at July 12, 2003 at 03:11 AM

Deep inside most Germans - you can take my word on this, both sides of my family are ethnic Germans - lurks at least a little sympathy for the Nazis. It is no accident that the German national motto is, "You vait, ve try it again".

Posted by: ZsaZsa at July 12, 2003 at 04:49 AM

Tom, check your history. Mussolini was killed by his fellow Italians at the first opportunity. Kinda suggests they weren't rapt in him. Were Hitler and his policies actually supported by Germans? You bet. How much opposition did he receive after the nature of is regime was laid clear by Kristallnacht or the involvement in the Spanish Civil War? Even if they weren't thrilled by him (which I don't believe), they were at least prepared to shut their eyes to the atrocities. Complicity, complicity, complicity...

Posted by: Evil Right-Wing Bastard at July 12, 2003 at 10:35 PM