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