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Nowadays It Is OK To Be Racist (Even If You Are Leftist): Building the Normality of Racism in Everyday Discourse and Media Discourse in Italy

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Abstract:

Why do traditionally leftist voters in Tuscany seem to have suddenly switched sides, voting for the extreme Right, and now advocating violent action against immigrants? Why it is possible for a crime such as apology of fascism, to become suddenly acceptable in Italy, in the name of defending the citizens from the threat of the “violent” and “criminal clandestine”? This paper focuses on the construction of a public opinion and the normalization and banalization of racism and discrimination against immigrants in Italian media discourse. Studies of the media’s influence on views of immigration have usually focused on the portrait that the media constructs of immigrants. In fact, the Italian media often propose a negative image of immigrants as poor, criminal, religious fanatics and even terrorists. However, there is a parallel and additional ongoing discourse in Italian media that could be subsumed as: “It is OK to be racist, since we have been cornered into it.” This discourse justifies racism as a “natural” answer to aggression, immigrant “invasion,” and injustice. The media thus allow people to interpret their racism as “justified racism.” This second effect must be scrutinized: the media not only represent the immigrants, but present to the Italians an image of themselves, interpreting for them what they feel and think (about immigration) and telling them that it is “OK” to feel and think that way. In contributing to an acceptance of racism as “normal feelings,” the media discourse aids the articulation of racist stances. These reinterpretations of racism as justified and natural clash against previously accepted views of racism as unjustified and “bad,” (and even “naturally” absent from Italy and fundamentally “other”). As acceptable in a regime of morality, racist discourse is now allowable and people do not have to “think twice” when proposing racializing and racist topics and stances. Finally, I will ask if this trend in the Italian mass media is an anomalous situation, or if similar trends can be found elsewhere in Europe.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

immigr (54), racism (45), italian (36), racist (27), media (22), articl (22), feel (20), one (17), victim (17), exampl (15), newspap (15), fear (14), discours (13), poverini (11), view (11), itali (11), peopl (11), crimin (10), crime (10), natur (10), even (10),
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Association:
Name: Seventeenth International Conference of the Council for European Studies
URL:
http://www.ces.columbia.edu


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p399391_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Pagliai, Valentina. "Nowadays It Is OK To Be Racist (Even If You Are Leftist): Building the Normality of Racism in Everyday Discourse and Media Discourse in Italy" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Seventeenth International Conference of the Council for European Studies, Grand Plaza, Montreal, Canada, <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p399391_index.html>

APA Citation:

Pagliai, V. "Nowadays It Is OK To Be Racist (Even If You Are Leftist): Building the Normality of Racism in Everyday Discourse and Media Discourse in Italy" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Seventeenth International Conference of the Council for European Studies, Grand Plaza, Montreal, Canada Online <PDF>. 2014-11-27 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p399391_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: Why do traditionally leftist voters in Tuscany seem to have suddenly switched sides, voting for the extreme Right, and now advocating violent action against immigrants? Why it is possible for a crime such as apology of fascism, to become suddenly acceptable in Italy, in the name of defending the citizens from the threat of the “violent” and “criminal clandestine”? This paper focuses on the construction of a public opinion and the normalization and banalization of racism and discrimination against immigrants in Italian media discourse. Studies of the media’s influence on views of immigration have usually focused on the portrait that the media constructs of immigrants. In fact, the Italian media often propose a negative image of immigrants as poor, criminal, religious fanatics and even terrorists. However, there is a parallel and additional ongoing discourse in Italian media that could be subsumed as: “It is OK to be racist, since we have been cornered into it.” This discourse justifies racism as a “natural” answer to aggression, immigrant “invasion,” and injustice. The media thus allow people to interpret their racism as “justified racism.” This second effect must be scrutinized: the media not only represent the immigrants, but present to the Italians an image of themselves, interpreting for them what they feel and think (about immigration) and telling them that it is “OK” to feel and think that way. In contributing to an acceptance of racism as “normal feelings,” the media discourse aids the articulation of racist stances. These reinterpretations of racism as justified and natural clash against previously accepted views of racism as unjustified and “bad,” (and even “naturally” absent from Italy and fundamentally “other”). As acceptable in a regime of morality, racist discourse is now allowable and people do not have to “think twice” when proposing racializing and racist topics and stances. Finally, I will ask if this trend in the Italian mass media is an anomalous situation, or if similar trends can be found elsewhere in Europe.


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