Italian general takes aim at woke policies, cancel culture

By Thomson Reuters Apr 30, 2024 | 11:37 AM

By Angelo Amante

ROME (Reuters) – An Italian army general who sparked outrage by publishing a book disparaging LGBT people, migrants, minorities and feminists on Tuesday said woke policies and cancel culture had made Europeans ashamed of their roots.

General Roberto Vannacci, whose self-published book, “The World Upside Down”, won applause from right-wing readers and harsh criticism from the left, will stand as a candidate for the far-right League party at an election for the European Parliament in June.

Speaking at a presentation of a book by League party leader and deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini in Rome, Vannacci said he wanted Italy and Europe to uphold their identities.

“I wish our children did not have to be ashamed of their history, because that is what woke culture and cancel culture bring us. The fact that we should be ashamed of what our grandparents did,” Vannacci said.

He also said common Christian roots were among the main features all Europeans shared.

“A world without identity is a ‘world upside down’ and this is what Europe has unfortunately been offering us in recent years,” he said.

Salvini – once the strongest figure on the Italian right – was eclipsed by the ascent to power of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and his decision to put forward Vannacci is seen as an attempt to rekindle support among his base.

In February, Vannacci was suspended from duty after the defence ministry started disciplinary action against him on the grounds his book discredited the army, the ministry and the constitution.

In an interview with daily La Stampa last week, he called post-war dictator Benito Mussolini “a statesman” and said the Christian crucifix should be displayed in all schools as it was a cultural symbol.

Meloni’s nationalist Brothers of Italy party is topping polls at around 27%, while the League is hovering around 8% and is seen slightly behind the moderate Forza Italia which was the coalition’s smallest force following the 2022 general election.

(Reporting by Angelo Amante; Editing by Nick Macfie)