Under the Black Flag

Rage Against the Cowards

No matter how one looks at it, it wasn’t Italy’s finest hour.  Not even Gabrielle d’Annunzio, poet, patriot, propagandist, and protofascist, could spin this into a maritime Titanic-like drama.

Once the Costa Concordia hit a rock off the Tuscan coast, the behavior of the passengers and crew became an adverb, as in cowardly.  This much we know.  But knowing Italy—a country that successfully switched sides in both world wars—factual truth will never emerge.  The eternal glories and failings of human nature have always played leading parts in Italy’s long and magnificent history.  Heroes turn into baddies and vice versa, defeats into victories, burlesque into opera.  Italy, they say, is more of an idea than a country, and they are not far off.  Where else would the innocent mistress of a benevolent dictator be shot and hanged upside down by men who pride themselves as lovers and protectors of the weaker sex?  Never mind.  I could go on forever.

When I first heard the news of the ship sinking off an island I have sailed around more times than I can remember, I thought it was a joke gone wrong.  Surely, the reason was bella figura, the uniquely Italian male pride-style, all show and no substance.  After all, it is the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic, and...

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