Barack Obama is very popular in Europe, where almost every nation would be, in American terms, a solid blue state. But not every European politician is saluting his re-election. While prime ministers and presidents are sending to the White House the usual diplomatic missives containing wishes for a successful four years, others aren't thrilled at the prospect of another Obama term.
One of them is a name known to European political observers, but as of yet largely unknown in America: Mario Borghezio, a member of the European Parliament (the European Union's legislative body) for the Northern League, the Italian separatist party that was part of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's majority. Far from being a nobody, Borghezio even once served in Berlusconi's cabinet as a deputy minister for Justice.
Americans may take more notice of him after an interview he gave Thursday on Italy's Radio 24, in which he said, according to this clip from the interview published by Corriere della Sera, that the Ku Klux Klan has a point and that the President's victory makes him very unhappy.
How unhappy? Here's what Borghezio said: "They've chosen one of their own. Multiracial America has won, which I can't f-cking stand, to use a diplomatic term."
And that was just the beginning. Borghezio then went on explain that in his view, "Obama is a good boy, a self-made person, (but) he rose with the support of secret societies like the Bilderberg Group."
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The who? Readers would be forgiven for missing that reference; the Bilderberg Group does go to great lengths to remain anonymous. In fact, it's an unofficial annual gathering of more than 100 people of influence, mostly in politics and finance. That has led many (many outside of mainstream debate, that is) to label it a secret society that really controls governments.
"It's a little like it was with Clinton: some complete f-cking nobody who suddenly becomes a great figure," said Borghezio, "(Obama) was a petty lawyer who defended the rights of blacks and nobody knew who the f-ck he was (…) but then he became the puppet of big lobbies."
And if anyone still had any remaining doubt as to his innermost thoughts, he continued, "behind Romney you could see a beautiful, white, Christian America."
"And what do you think of the KKK?," asked one host. "It’s prospering more than ever!," Borghezio said. "I wouldn't want these words to make one think I sympathize, but the data says they are enjoying a resurgence, thanks to Obama."
Well, the KKK "may have exaggerated a little," Borghezio admitted. But that was for a reason, in his view: "It’s all born of the resistance against a multiracial society."
Borghezio, a 65-year old lawyer, wasn't expressing a loony theory concocted in his basement. He was describing a position that has some currency among right-wing circles in Europe, and even among the hard left there: opposition to American hegemony has long been the one position where Europe's anti-capitalist left and anti-immigrant right have found common ground. The conspiracy theories the likes of Borghezio are peddling may seem crazy to the sane and well-informed, but they speak to an anti-American sentiment which has been emerging since the end of the Cold War.
Borghezio may be an especially repugnant example -- he was once filmed, during a vigilante raid against prostitutes, spraying water on African women to "cleanse them" -- but he is not alone. After all, he did get 48,000 Italians to vote for him at the 2009 elections for the European Parliament. Where he sits, no joke, on the Committee on Civil Liberties.
It's a safe bet to say that he doesn't want those liberties for all Europeans. Or for that matter, all Americans: "At the time of the Civil War I would have been a Southern hardliner," he told his interviewers, who by then were laughing incredulously. "Who hasn't seen Gone With The Wind and identified themselves with those extraordinary Southern heroes against those Northern sh-tty faces? America sucked even then!"