Montevertine owner Martino Manetti embroiled in scandal over racist comments

kyenge racist comments

Above: Cécile Kyenge, Italy’s first African-Italian minister (a member of the Letta cabinet) was subjected to hate-fueled and racially charged epithets during public appearances and in online public fora last year (image via the Wiki).

I’ll never forget the night that the U.S. and NATO began bombing Kosovo in 1999. I was in Milan and even though the planes were taking off from the U.S. base in Aviano, Friuli, you could hear their engines roar.

My friend Stefano and I took a cab home after dinner and we got into a heated argument with the driver: commenting on news of the strikes, he shared his thoughts that the Albanians in Milan should be rounded up and killed.

When I returned to New York, I told the story to the managing editor of the magazine where I was working. She was the daughter of the Italian publisher of the magazine. A privileged young woman who had grown up in a gilded neighborhood in Milan, she could have walked right out of a frame from a Pasolini film like Teorema or Porcile.

The Albanians should be rounded up and shot, she told me.

Sadly, brutal racism and a tolerance of hate speech are not uncommon in Italian bourgeois society.

Today, the Italian enoblogosphere is mulling over revelations that Martino Manetti, owner of one of Italy’s most prestigious wineries, Montevertine, has been posting racially charged comments on his personal Facebook.

According to a report posted today on Dissapore, one of Italy’s most popular food blogs, his posts have included the following (translation mine):

All of my solidarity to the guy from Brescia who killed the thief [an illegal alien] who burglarized his house. He should receive a medal.

In my personal classification of the dregs of humanity who populate the world, RAI [national television] announcers are at the top of the list, somewhere between the Chinese and the Gypsies.

This shitty Moroccan is breaking my balls! [A reference to Rachida, a popular and controversial contestant on the Italian version of "Masterchef"]

Next year, I plan to change the name of the wine to Mein Kampf.

“Is it right to boycott the wines of Martino Manetti?” asks Prisca Sacchetti, contributor to Dissapore and author of today’s post.

Many readers will remember that a similar controversy arose last year and Italian wine trade observers have already begun to make comparisons to racially charged comments made by a Friulian winemaker.

Manetti’s attitudes were not unknown among Italian wine trade insiders and revelations of his posts did not come as a surprise to me.

The difference today is that, especially in the wake of last year’s controversial boycott of a Friulian winemaker for similar hate speech, young Italian wine writers and bloggers are beginning to take a stand on these issues. (Manetti’s posts were initially reported by Antonio Scuteri, a popular food writer for the Italian national daily La Repubblica.)

Racism and hate speech are on the rise in Europe today and European authorities are grappling with how to address the issue.

Should we boycott Manetti’s wines?

I believe that every wine lover needs to make that decision for her/himself. I would never encourage (and I’m not encouraging) anyone to boycott any label. It’s not my place in the world to do so.

But what I can say is that I don’t need to drink his wines and I don’t drink them (anyone who knows me and knows my palate knows well that I’ve never been a fan of the wine).

O tempora o mores!

We can only hope that our children will grow up in a better world than ours.

3 thoughts on “Montevertine owner Martino Manetti embroiled in scandal over racist comments

  1. The comments might be unsavory but I think it’s unfair to present them without any context. If you really were presenting the facts so that people could make up their own minds then you would not be so scurrilous as to link Manetti’s comments to the very real abuse of Kyenge. Seems like you’re striving to spin the comments as worse than they are. Calling the Chinese and gypsies the dregs of society is definitely bad, no doubt about it, but the other 3 comments aren’t actually racist out of context. Can you present the full story?

    For the world to be a better place we’ll have to get rid of smears, faux impartiality and sham logic too.

    • Dick van Dyke, why the anonymous comment? There’s nothing to hide here. I’d appreciate it if you would reveal your identity and I believe it would a much more honest approach (and it would lend credibility to your agenda, whatever that is here; I’m not sure).

      Having said that, the whole point of this post is to show that there is an air of intolerance in Italy right now. And that racially charged remarks are sadly commonplace among the bourgeois and even the landed gentry like Manetti.

      I don’t pass judgment on Manetti. In this post, I merely report what Italian bloggers have written on their sites and I try to give some context to help explain why those bloggers were so offended by Manetti’s remarks.

      • My points stand on their own. My identity is completely irrelevant and wouldn’t serve to validate the comments I make. I don’t work in the wine business, I don’t know this Manetti character, and I have no particular agenda.

        If you really did ‘merely report’ what Italian bloggers have written then why did you yourself add the information that the thief in Brescia was an illegal alien? Manetti did not make any reference to the thief’s nationality in his comment and neither did the Italian blog add that information.

        You are gossip-mongering.

        And on the basis of this gossip-mongering you raise the question of a boycott.

        If you really think it’s worth hurting this man’s business and all the people who depend on it then you need to be completely honest and open. Do you actually have the context for these comments? For example, can you explain why he is making a bizarre joke about Mein Kampf? If you don’t have the context then be honest enough to say you’re quoting him out of context. Simple.

        As it stands, you seem to think it’s racist to simply make a reference to Mein Kampf. This logic is nonsense. It’s prejudicial. It’s exactly this kind of self-justifying logic that underpins racism itself. Where I come from it’s called shit-stirring.

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