Date: Tuesday, 12 March 2019
Milan: the statue of Indro Montanelli smeared (Photo by Clarita Di Giovanni)
Last March 8, in Milan, during the event for the International Women's Day , some activists of the feminist collective Non Una Meno broke with pink washable paint the statue of the journalist Indro Montanelli placed near the entrance of the public gardens named after him , in Corso Venezia. The movement explained that it wanted to draw attention to a story that is talked about cyclically about Montanelli, considered by many to be one of the most authoritative signatures of Italian journalism: specifically, when, a soldier in Ethiopia in the 1930s, he bought and he had sexual relations with a 12-year-old Eritrean girl.
In his statement, Non Una Less Less justified the protest gesture:
"It is a necessary redemption action. These are the words of Indro Montanelli about his colonial experience: "He was twelve years old ... at twelve those there [the Africans] were already women. I had bought it from my father in Saganeiti together with a horse and a gun, all for 500 lire. It was a docile animal, I put it on a tucul (a simple circular building with a conical roof usually of clay and straw) with chickens. And then every fifteen days he reached me wherever I was together with the wives of the other ascari ... my wife also came, with the basket on her head, which brought me clean underwear '(interview with Enzo Biagi for RAI in 1982). Are these the men we should admire? "
In fact, Montanelli had already spoken publicly of the child bride, bought during the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, when 26 years old was part of the army as a second lieutenant in command of an ascari battalion, that is Eritrean military. Montanelli told the story of his relations with the girl, in 1969, during the television program of Gianni Bisiach L'ora del verità .
Banotti: "He just said quietly that he had a bride, let's say, 12 years old, and at age 25 he did not at all like to rape a 12-year-old girl saying 'But in Africa these things are done'. I would like to ask him how his relations with women normally mean given these two statements "
Montanelli: " No lady, look, on violence ... no violence because the girls in Abyssinia are married at 12 "
Banotti: " She says this "
Montanelli: " Then it was the use "
Banotti: " In terms of human awareness, in short, the relationship with a 12-year-old girl is a relationship with a 12-year-old girl. If he did it in Europe he would think he would rape a girl, wouldn't he? "
Montanelli:"Yes, in Europe yes, but ..."
Banotti: "Exactly, what difference do you think exist from a biological point of view? Or psychological too? "
Montanelli: " No look, they get married at 12, it's not a question ... "
Banotti: " But it's not the marriage you mean, at 12 in Africa. Look, I lived in Africa. Yours was really the violent relationship of the colonialist who came there and took possession of the 12-year-old girl, without absolutely, I guarantee him, take into account this kind of relationship on the human level. You were the winners, that is the soldiers who did the same things wherever they were winners. (...) History is full of these situations ".
In my opinion, Indio Montanelli - a clever and overrated journalist - is only a small man, even a scoundrel, certainly not worthy of being celebrated.
His baseness - even worse than the rape of the African child - lies in the fact that 33 years after the events (and for the rest of his life), Montanelli never had a doubt, an afterthought, he does not understand that what was once acceptable , certainly could not be more.
As we have seen, Montanelli speaks for the first time of the "child wife" in a program by Gianni Bisiach, from 1969. If he had said: "Then, in 1936, I did not realize that what I was doing was wrong, our racist ideas they allowed us to consider inferior African women and our own property. Now, I cannot fail to declare that this way of thinking and my consequent behavior were wrong, that there are no superior races and that all women must be considered our peers and treated with respect ", could have been" forgiven ", at least considered someone who at the time had been mistaken in good faith.
Instead, Montanelli, not only does he not repent but speaks of facts in a smug way, smiling. Although thirty years have passed - but even in the following decades, even when writing in Corriere della Sera, February 12, 2000, Montanelli not only does not make any self-criticism and, at all evidence, is not even touched by a doubt concerning his own behavior, and seems to claim its past with pride.
In the "Montanelli Room" published by the Corriere della Sera, the journalist minimizes the sexual aspect of his relationship with the Eritrean child and even tries to pass himself off as a victim: "I worked hard to overcome his smell, due to the goat tallow his hair was soaked, and even more so to establish a sexual relationship with her because he had been infibulate since birth: which, in addition to opposing my desires with an almost insurmountable barrier (it took to demolish her, the brutal intervention of her mother) , made it completely insensitive ”.
In short, Montanelli tells us with a wink, every 15 days he coupled with his slavery taken "on a lease", which with him performed his "service", because a man needs to let off steam, hinting that he did not do it for pleasure but rather as an Italian male duty.
Here is the paucity of the character. Certainly, a smarter, more sensitive person would have taken note of the many changes that had also taken place in a society that was originally backward like the Italian one, where the so-called "honor crime" had been abolished, where laws on divorce and the right of women to have an abortion, and would have had the courage and intellectual honesty to acknowledge that they were wrong.
The assurance of Montanelli is the result of a never hidden misogyny and a masculine, possessive attitude towards women, which still persists in most of the Italian population.
This male-dominated hypocritical attitude is shared by that Sicilian family in which their father beat a lesbian daughter to death and was raped by his longtime friend of the three 19-year-old rapists who raped a station in S. Giorgio a Cremano 24 year old girl. And his motivations in defending the three criminals are probably the same ones that prompted the parents to applaud them when they left the barracks: "that girl provokes the boys from morning to night, but did you see how she dresses?" And "logically they are males ", and to conclude:" they are condemning three good guys who go to work ".
The facts of these days tell us that, in Italy, there are still many, too many, men who "love to die" their wives and companions, seen as objects to own, and do not think twice about killing them if they they decide to leave them.
We need to educate all Italian boys and men so that all males learn and recognize that women are people with equal rights of men, and that women must be able to live independently and (if they like) freely choose a partner companion with whom to share one's life.
Indro Montanelli, misogynist, rapist, slave owner in 1936 - but never regretted - or rather a pleased claimant of his own behavior - cannot be considered a positive example, which inspires future generations and, therefore, worthy of having statues and a park entitled to his name, in Milan.