A senior Italian general has been sacked after his controversial book caused uproar in the country.
Following his firing, General Roberto Vannacci stood by his work. “The Constitution guarantees freedom of speech. No incitement to hatred from me. I do not feel like backtracking, I claim what I wrote,” he said.
“I never use vulgar or trivial words: I freely express my thoughts,” he told Italian media on August 18.
Regardless of his sacking, Gen Vannacci’s self-published book Il Mondo al Contrario (The World in Reverse) looks to be taking Italy by storm. Released on August 10 it is already at the top of Italian Amazon’s bestseller list.
Still, many Italian newspapers are decrying what they term the “insults to gay people and migrants” in the book, as Corriere Della Sera writes.
Italian Minister of Defence Guido Crossetto has also condemned Gen Vannacci’s work. Taking to X (formerly Twitter) Crosetto said that his “personal rantings” have “discredited the army”. He said the defence ministry would take “disciplinary procedures” against the General.
The outrage has come about over what Gen Vannacci writes in the book, for instance saying of gay people: “Dear homosexuals, you are not normal, get over it!”
He also criticises “rules of inclusion and tolerance imposed” on Italians by ethnic minorities and that immigrants benefit from “privileges” in his country.
Many in Italian politicians are condemning such remarks outright, despite Vannacci claiming on August 17 that he was aggreived that his words had been taken out of context.
“What upsets me is the instrumentalisation: sentences have been taken out of context and used to construct stories that do not emerge from the book,” he said.
Despite that, he said he cared little about the negative reactions and condemnations of his work. “Criticism does not bother me and I am not going to reply to Minister Crosetto” he said.
The incident is now causing widespread debate on the internet. On X a number of Italians have defended the author under the hashtag #iostoconVannacci or “I’m with Vannacci”. Many are posting full passages from his book.
One user posted that the General “has committed the gravest crime, that of saying what everyone thinks. Even the fake do-gooders”.
Il Generale #Vannacci ha commesso il più grave crimine, quello di dire ciò che tutti pensano.
Anche i finti buonisti. Dietro lo strato di fango della loro ipocrisia, si nasconde questo pensiero.
— Francesco 🇮🇹 (@SaP011) August 17, 2023
Others are not so accommodating, with one saying that Vannacci must not be in his right mind, claiming tongue-in-cheek that doctors advised him to drink plenty of water, not to go outside in the heat and to avoid spicy foods.
Il generale #Vannacci ha scritto che i gay non sono normali e che Paola Egonu ha i tratti somatici che non rappresentano l’Italianità.
I medici gli hanno consigliato di bere molta acqua, di non uscire nelle ore più calde e di evitare i cibi piccanti. pic.twitter.com/bPMTQkxkMV
— Ficarra & Picone (@FicarraePicone) August 17, 2023
Criticism from Vannacci’s supporters is also being directed at Crosetto, who is a member of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s national-conservative Fratelli d’Italia party. One says that while the General is a “true man of the Right”, Crosetto is only a “self-styled” right-winger.
Cioè l'unico uomo che pensa e parla come un vero uomo di destra, viene richiamato da Crosetto (sedicente uomo di destra) ad un provvedimento disciplinare 🤷♂️.
Quando la destra, non è la destra ma una buffonata #Vannacci pic.twitter.com/zKE1NBUT1M
— Maurizio (@capitano_ri) August 17, 2023
Gen Vaccanni was head of the Italian Military Geographic Institute and has a had a distinguished career.
Born in La Spezia on Oct 20, 1968, his journey through the ranks saw him lead the elite Paratroopers Brigade Folgore and Task Force 45 during the Afghanistan War. Notable for his role in missions across Somalia, Rwanda, Iraq and Libya, his expertise also extended to international relations, holding diplomatic positions in Moscow, as well as earning multiple master’s degrees.