‘Do-gooder’ becomes ultimate put-down
ROME – The Italian language does not want for colorful insults. But these days, it seems, one of the biggest put-downs of all is to call someone a do-gooder.
And on the lips of Matteo Salvini, the leader of the anti-immigrant League Party and Italy’s most powerful politician, the word “buonista,” or do-gooder, is a dangerous weapon.
“The European dream is being buried by the bureaucrats, the do-gooders and the bankers who are governing Europe for too much time,” Salvini said last week.
The proliferation of the unlikely slur has become a profound marker of the topsyturvy state of politics in Italy, where being too good is bad, expertise is disqualifying and hard economic data is subject to dadaist analysis.
Critics say the “throw the elite bums out” ethos of the populists has led to a government staffed with hapless amateurs who wear their inexperience as a badge.
“It’s like they are from another planet,” said Romano Prodi, a former prime minister of Italy, former European Commission president and a classic target of the do-gooder slight. “They are Martians.”