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Silence is not always golden...

Silence is not always golden...

Anthony Julian Tamburri (August 17, 2014)
The Guardian

It remains ever so complexing how horrid and prejudiced commentary from supposed members of mainstream society does not effect any consequences from society at large. Is this an Italian / European mode of thinking? Is mine and others' indignation over the top?


I posted the following on Facebook two days ago, and within minutes there were reactions from both Italians and Italian Americans who share my overall view:

“Here instead we get Opti Pobà, who previously ate bananas and then suddenly becomes a first-team player with Lazio. That’s how it is here. In England, you need to demonstrate what you have on your CV and your pedigree.”

Didn’t we have enough of this in the early to mid-20th Century in Europe? Yes, a rhetorical question. And how can Italy’s collective conscious accept such things? Then, again, they accepted Roberto Calderoli’s comments about former Ministro dell’Integrazione Cécile Kyenge, who is African Italian.

Where’s the outrage from the Italian-American community? Indeed, were someone to call any of us “spaghetti benders” and the like, with other food references, holy hell would break loose. But about this, silence! Non va mica bene, ragazzi!

Last summer, July 2013, I posted an op.ed. in reference to Roberto Calderoli’s horrible comments with regard to then Ministro dell’Integrazione Cécile Kyenge, referencing how features of orangutans come to miind when he thinks of her. Now, we have the head of Italy’s Soccer League referenceing bananas when speaking of African soccer players in Italy. That two high-ranking individuals, poitical and not, feel so much at ease to make such comments, and publically to boot, truly boggles the mind.

 In my op.ed. last July 14, 2013, I had stated the following: “From Italy we have here yet another incident that is simply, and only as such, embarrassing; I see no excuse at all for such musings, unless, of course, one inhabits that world dedicated to “Whiteness” at all costs. Such a statement from Calderoli underscores a racism that is obviously so ingrained in certain Italians that they feel absolutely no shame is making such statements.” Indeed, the same can be said in reference to Carlo Tevecchi’s remarks about bananas and, I would add, the 63.63% of the 274 delegates present who voted for him.


As I asked earlier today on Facebook, in the above-cited quote, where is the outrage? Where is the outrage from Minister Renzi, the ne plus ultra of a new breed of Italian politicos? Where is the outrage of the new breed of politicos that are part of this new government in Italy? As members of a younger generation that grew up on the likes of Americanized Italian TV and co-students of mixed race in their classes, can they not see the issues at hand when such a pubic figure spews forth racist comments and there are no consequences? In this regard, perhaps this new government that wants to present itself as progressive was not progressive in its decision to eliminate the Ministry of Integration. Where is the outrage of all those southern Italians who, rightly so in most cases, claim victimization of the northerners? And, finally, where is the outrage from the Italian-American community?


It is, indeed, this last group with which I shall close. Where is the outrage from all of those self-proclaimed spokespeople from the Italian-American (read, both those who are Italian- and American-born) community? Where is the condemnation from those individuals who go apoplectic over any coupling of criminality to Italians in the United States? Where is the demand for an apology from Tavecchio for his despicable, racist comments?

Well, this is not new news. We were informed a week or so ago that Tavecchio was a favored candidate. Our community was silent then and it remains ever so mute today. 

Alla riscossa, figlioli!

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Tavecchio & the Need to Speak Out

Tavecchio's comments were indeed shameful and inexcusable, and, appallingly enough, even in his "apology" for them he made it very clear that he saw nothing whatsoever wrong with his "joke" itself, saying basically that he was sorry if he had offended the sensibilities of some people. As though the problem lay with his audience rather than himself. In this strategy he was following the lead of Berlusconi, that clown "cavaliere," and an international embarrassment.

That his remarks (or "joke") centered upon the very same object that racist morons in Italy (and elsewhere) throw upon the pitch as an insult to (and assault upon) players of African descent would have seemed to automatically disqualify him from consideration for a position in which it would be up to him to punish fans for such acts. Maybe it would have in other countries, but not in Italy.

(And only in Italy, it seems, could a 71-year-old man who spewed such remarks be presented as "a fresh force for radical change and renewal.")

Unfortunately the embarrassment continues for Italy and Italians, as Tavecchio has--not surprisingly--been considered unfit to attend UEFA's Sept 10 & 11 conference on racism in soccer. Which, alas, does not mean he will be removed from his post--no, only that the FIGC's vice-president will represent the country instead.

But, all this being said, and as much as I agree with Prof Tamburri's piece, what would he have suggested Italian-American groups do to express their displeasure with Tavecchio's remarks and subsequent appointment? This is not a rhetorical question, nor a sarcastic one. Renzi definitely needed to make a strong statement, and the Italian press would have listened. But to whom would Italian-American groups have issued their statement? It is one thing to criticize an American show to the American press, but which press corps would have been interested in their opinion on the remarks of Tavecchio?