We are all ready to celebrate the end of the fateful 2020 in a big way, a year that surely, thanks to this pandemic that unfortunately feels like it will last forever, we won’t forget until the end of our days. At the same time, I won’t toast with any sense of liberation the new 2021, and this is not only because sadly, Covid-19 is still killing, but at least for me, because the new year that will put an end to an infamous past will only begin on January 20th. Yes, on the day when America and the world will be freed from the danger of having Donald Trump in an oval office in a small white house with a fairly powerful briefcase always beside him. Only when Joe Biden, with the first Italian American First Lady, Dr. Jill, and above all, the first female vice-president Kamala Harris, will raise his hand to swear to respect the constitution by pronouncing “and God help me”, will I uncork the best bottle I can afford!
Those who follow my column know that four years ago I declared Donald Trump unworthy of the presidency of the United States. Not so much for his ideas (does he have any?), but more for his character, in short, for the evil soul that springs from the depths of this man, who from the beginning showed all his flaws. I wrote about it and I repeat, it was a huge risk to have an ignorant ego-maniac (because too many sources have now confirmed that he reads nothing but tweets) with clear racist and fascist tendencies, as president. But he was elected, and votes matter in a democracy – please explain that to Trump too. I won’t toast for liberation tonight because the worst president in the history of the United States and, perhaps, of any democracy in the world, could still create havoc of all kinds in the remaining twenty days of his administration. So, I wait and hope that the hour is approaching when it will finally be possible to shout to the world: “Hip hip hurray! Trump is no longer our president!”.
I’m not going to waste the few lines that I have to repeat why Trump has been the worst president of the USA – and in foreign policy as well! – I will save that for the next few days. It’s enough to note the condition in which the United States finds itself due to the pandemic. The US, officially still the wealthiest country in the world, has the highest number of infections. Was Covid too difficult for anyone to deal with? No, I’m sorry, but if you want to know all about the war against the coronavirus, just read Bob Woodward’s book (or in audio-book) in which we learn that Trump already knew in January what citizens still ignored, about the dangers and fatality of Covid. What’s more, how criminally he continued to divide the country, and with what tenacity he wouldn’t wear a mask, thus sending the message to Americans of “who the hell cares, it won’t happen, it’s little more than the flu”. Enough of this Trump, please, and we don’t want any more like him.
Returning to the year 2020, are we sure it’s all to be cursed? Of course, we can’t forget the tragedies that millions of families around the world have experienced, nor our deprivation of the most natural freedoms, such as being able to hug a friend, a relative, a colleague. Up to October, I would say that in 2020 there is little to save, with the exception of the reaction to racism that took place in the US after the murder of George Floyd, that as I have already written, was the beginning of the redemption of American democracy and the return to its full functioning. The last two months have been rather encouraging: first of course, there was Trump’s defeat–and with a record-breaking number of votes–and then finally, the announcement of the arrival of the vaccine that signals the beginning of the end of the scourge brought by Covid-19; although unfortunately, this won’t be immediate.
On the vaccine issue, however, I’ve had a doubt for months and I’d like to share it: in China, as later in Russia, the vaccine was made available much earlier. Now, it’s true that in medicine and science in general, you can’t trust those who rush to the finish line, but here’s my question: couldn’t they have figured out more quickly how safe and effective these Eastern vaccines were? In short, while it’s true that with the vaccine you can’t take shortcuts, did considerations of money influence Western interests to delay pronouncing the Eastern vaccines safe until “ours” were ready? Because since we have lost at least three precious months – we have just started administering the vaccine while they have been doing it since August – someone sooner or later will have to provide a better explanation for why certain tests could not be carried out more quickly.
This column wouldn’t be on New Year’s Eve if we didn’t also take a careful look at our Italy, which remains our beloved homeland from afar and for which we suffer when we see it go through difficult times. Italy shares with the US the record for the numbers of deaths per population. The country has been devastated economically by the pandemic, especially in its inability to provide work for millions of families. While I retain that the inept President Trump must bear the major responsibility for the unavoidable, yet certainly containable disaster, could I say the same of Giuseppe Conte’s government? No, I don’t feel like launching such accusations against his government which although certainly responsible for many failings, still appears to have had less influence on what, we fear, would have happened even without Conte. As indeed in America, we must look to the past to understand who is responsible for wrong-headed and anti-national policies, such as that of having diverted important resources from healthcare agencies, thus preventing the country from being better prepared for the arrival of a pandemic, which as the UN tells us–though the message is almost always ignored–was an inevitable possibility; what’s more, we should pay attention to this other message: it’s inevitable that it will return.
However, seen from here, the Italians have shown immense courage and discipline and writing this makes me proud. Yes, certainly the complaints and frustrations for this recurring lockdown aren’t lacking, but the overwhelming majority of the Italian people have reacted as a cohesive and responsible community and with a very high civic sense–enough to make them the envy of the world. Every cloud has a silver lining, and so even with pandemics. In this case Italians have proven to be a united and supportive people. From America, I look at them with admiration, and I’m confident that 2021 will eventually reward the Italians in their economic recovery.
I’m sure that President Sergio Mattarella, who will be speaking to the nation in a few hours, will find the right words to inspire even more confidence that Italians deserve.
Finally, in conveying my good wishes to you, dear readers, I’d like to dedicate a few lines to La Voce di New York. We have transformed the year of the pandemic into an act of faith in the future of our newspaper. We will do our best to continue to improve and make La Voce di New York ever stronger, free and independent, which remains the most followed, credible and influential Italian media in the large community of Italians abroad.
Many thanks and best wishes to our valued and valiant collaborators all over the world and to you, readers, who continue to follow us and to grow (this year there were almost two million of you and you read us from 226 countries!). We believe that the future for us too, as for the United States, Italy, Europe and the world, will be better! Again, best wishes for 2021 and stay safe!
Translation by Alessandra Loiero