How to Do It

Paul Greenberg
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Posted: Mar 12, 2016 12:01 AM
How to Do It

It's not just in Europe where immigration -- legal, illegal and all the varieties thereof in between -- has become a political flashpoint. In this country Donald Trump made it a centerpiece of his presidential campaign. Much as he's done about everything and anything else in order to appeal to every passing shift in public passions. Just where he is today on the immigrant issue, or even this minute, is too much trouble to keep up with. He keeps changing his position in his posts on Facebook and Twitter.

But there are happy exceptions to the anti-immigrant hysteria now gripping Europe. To cite one of them: Satriano in the poverty-stricken province of Calabria in Italy, where so many young people have left to find work that the town could have been mistaken for one big old folks' home. But the arrival of Muslim refugees there is being seen not as a danger but opportunity. To quote Luigi Marotti, who's in charge of maintaining its little Roman Catholic church: "Thank God they brought us these people. Satriano was dead. Thanks to them it's alive again. The village can start growing."

As in this country, Italy needs workers for those jobs its own people are unwilling to do -- like the slow, laborious work of picking olives and oranges. But in Satriano, assimilation is working in its usual wholesome way. To quote what its mayor said of these newcomers: "When they first arrived, there were some prejudices. Then the socialization started, and immigration is gradually growing. They play football with the local youth, they join the town's celebrations, they do street maintenance works."

The arrival of these strangers in a strange land has even brought back old memories of how Italians themselves were once the suspect immigrants. To quote one of the townsfolk: "We Italians went to places like Argentina with cardboard luggage in our hands and nobody sent us away. In the past we went there. Now they come here. We need to all be brothers."

The moral of this story: There is no more heartening -- or efficient -- force in the world than good will.