Tag Archives: Venice

Multiculturalism Hits a Snag in Venice

Recently, an incident at the prestigious Venetian museum, Ca Rezzonico, caused a stir when one of their guards asked an Arab tourist to remove her niqab, a veil concealing all but her eyes. After she had purchased a ticket to the museum, she made her way to the second floor with her family and was advised to remove her veil. She refused, and a political firestorm ensued.

The museum director apologized. “It was a decision taken by the guard who has committed a serious error.” But was it really a mistake? According to their own guidelines for immigrants issued in 2007, it wasn’t. Instituted  under the previous center-left government, the law prevents niqabs and burqas because, “they prevent the identification of the person and are an obstacle to the interaction with others.”

Member of the anti-illegal immigrant Northern League, Sen. Castelli requested that the justice minister ensure the safety of the guard’s position at the museum. “He should be given an award, not punished,” cautioned the deputy mayor of nearby Treviso.

Whether the guard was justified in his action, at least the concerning parties are in an environment where they can speak openly and candidly without being labeled racists.

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“Poor Americans” Given Discount…Not So Fast

The title of the Reuters article is condescending and inaccurate. “Hemingway haunt offers discounts to ‘poor Americans,”” was one of the most-viewed articles on Yahoo, and while the story itself is accurate, the tone set by the title makes it seem like snooty Europeans are once again wagging their fingers, singing an Italian na, na, na, na, na and looking down from their high Euro-perch at “poor” Americans.

Here’s the gist of the story: The owner of the legendary Venetian eatery—Harry’s Bar—is concerned by the falling dollar and his conspicuously absent contingent of American tourists. To make dining at Harry’s more financially palatable, Arrigo Cipriani has offered to discount their bill by twenty percent.

In the Reuters piece, he is “is offering a discount to “poor” Americans suffering from a weak dollar and subprime blues.” But I looked in Italy’s major newspapers, and Cipriani was quoted extensively, but he never uttered the word “poor.”

Cipriani from la Corriere della Sera:

«Poiché quest’anno la stagione si prospetta, mettiamola così, un po’ tranquilla, e il dollaro Usa sta andando a precipizio, ho pensato bene di favorire temporaneamente quella fascia di persone che ci apprezza e ci segue da tanti anni»

“Because this year, the season looks like it will be a little smoother, and because the U.S. dollar is falling, I thought to help momentarily those group of people who have appreciated and followed us for many years.”

I don’t know, maybe I missed the point of the Reuters article and felt like it was more condescending than it actually was, and perhaps I’m overreacting a bit. Maybe misrepresenting his quotes and adding words to create headlines isn’t all that big of a deal. But far too often, I’ve seen a European event miraculously transformed as it’s translated.

An embellished quote might not be that big of a big deal, but it represents a naughty temptation which is utilized far too often to slant and mischaracterize a story.