The phrase is that of Hannah Arendt, the great Jewish writer; the South Tyrolean Provincial Government has had it written on the Fascist monument in Piazza del Tribunale in Bolzano. Trilingual - Ladin-German-Italian and in fluorescent script. Let it be a warning to every observer, the fact that there is something higher than order and obedience to the law.
What times these are, what times I tell you! And right here with us here in Südtirol-Alto Adige. What brings us to say such, especially here in Südtirol-Alto Adige.? Why is there such a radical call for civil disobedience? The call comes from the high administrative offices. We could say it's an edict.
"No man has the right to obey."
I do not know of any authority that has publicly honoured a more impertinent motto than this. The quotation puts consciousness above the law. To put it in a less obsequious and therefore more fancyfree way: I decide whom not to obey. Of course, the Provincial legislature wanted to adopt Hannah-Arendt's phrase right above the fascist battle cry "Believe, obey, combat", and where it now stands out. It is in a public place, officially confirmed, and the intended ambition of the South Tyrolean population may well be not to interpret it in too narrow a way. The rejection of freedom. Two years ago, however, the President of the Province voiced, let's say that it was not really an order, an urgent appeal to the South Tyrolean municipalities: to make accommodation available to refugees, depending on the size and availability. And which municipalities made use of their right not to obey? The richest ones, would you believe? Those with the largest hotels and greater number of persons having "second homes". The strongholds of tourism: Alta Badia, Selva, Caldaro. "Because there was no room for them in the hotel." (Luke 2.6). This is the revisitation of the Christmas story, a scandalous chapter in the rejection of obedience in South Tyrol and by part of its population.
And after this incident, then came Christmas - New Year's Eve 2018-19 - and again we experienced a scandalous refusal to obey. This time in reverse. The Italian Minister of the Interior in Parliament forced a so-called "Security Decree". A stipulation will become law, one which deprives asylum seekers of the most basic rights, the right to shelter, the right to help. And this time it's the mayors who stand up and say no. No to a systematic rejection of constitutional rights and humanitarian aid. And who are these brave Italian mayors? They are not those of the richest municipalities, nor those of the north nor those of Bolzano. They are the mayors of Palermo, Naples and of Merano too. And let's not forget: the Catholic Church of Pope Francis.
"No man has the right to obey." The phrase remains valid.