This originally appeared as a post on my blog at Reuters AlertNet on 25 July 2007.
One of the most-embarrassing videos I've seen in a while is an interview with a couple of deputies of the Italian parliament on the subject of Darfur. It may be slightly unfair, because the interviewer just doorsteps them out of the blue, but still, their answers are incredible, with one declaring "Darfur" is a fast-paced, fast-food lifestyle.
The (Italian) person who told me about this and sent me the link says, "It hurts to see this again", and insists, "I promise, not all Italians and not all our politicians are like this!"
Indeed, I can vouch for that. On a quick trip to Rome last week, I met a number of people actively engaged on Darfur issues in Italy -- refugees and NGO people pushing for action, as well as deputies from the lower house and senators from the upper chamber who were very much looking to see what political steps they could take.
Still, the video shows that not everyone on the political side is as enlightened as the people I was fortunate to meet. Watch the video [link from original] and if you don't understand Italian, you can read -- and cry -- along with the following translation:
Interviewer (shows newspaper): "The drama of Darfur - must do something and do it quickly" - what do we mean by Darfur, where is Darfur?
Deputy Pietro Squeglia (Ulivo): Well this... I realise that it is...
Interviewer: "The drama of Darfur - must do something and do it quickly". What are you doing? You want to read the paper?
Deputy Squeglia: No, no... I didn't understand the question.
Interviewer: I'm saying, Darfur, where is it?
Deputy Squeglia: It's all about the Lebanese situation, I think, no?
Interviewer: We are talking about Darfur - "Must do something and do it quickly" - the drama of Darfur.
Deputy Giuseppe Fini (Forza italia): Yes, unfortunately this is not an Italian trend. We Italians shouldn't have this, because our population... our population is one of style, of food, good food -- a population therefore used to a certain lifestyle, but we are adopting the fast pace and other things of other countries that I...
Interviewer: When we talk about the drama of Darfur, what are we talking about? First of all, where is Darfur?
Deputy Fini: ...well, it's things done in a hurry, things that are really fast, things... well a way of behaving...
Deputy Fini: Darfur is not... it's for food.
Interviewer: I have not understood what you mean, for example, give me an example.
Deputy Fini: Give me a moment to see.
Interviewer (taking out newspaper): It says that the drama of Darfur, must do something and do it quickly - what does this mean?
Deputy Fini: Do... tell me.
Interviewer: I'll let you read, "If it's Africa calling".
Deputy Fini: No, I'm not... will you excuse me, will you let me go now?
Interviewer: Why are you leaving on Darfur? Do you know what Darfur is?
Deputy Fini: Goodbye and thank you
Interviewer: Because Darfur is a saying, when you do something in a hurry, you say Darfur.