September 07, 2003

Not a Nice Chianti

Why is "Hitler" wine being sold in Europe? Is this supposed to be funny? Ironic? Chic? What?

Apparently, there are Mussolini and Stalin collections, too.

Imagine what Europeans would say if an American wine-maker put out a flaming-cross and hooded white-sheet collection.

I understand these are part of a "historical" series. But, still. Who would buy these? I hope I'm not being overly PC, but I would feel ashamed to have this on my table.

I'd like to know what Europeans think of this. Are they appalled? Or is this a symptom of contempt for history and memory. (Via Charles Johnson.)


UPDATE: Via Dragoon (in the comments) comes this story from Google News.

GERMANY has protested to Italy over a winery that labels its bottles with portraits of Adolf Hitler, the Justice Ministry said Friday.

Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries recently wrote to her Italian counterpart to say the labels are "contemptible and tasteless" and asked him to see what could be done against them, spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz said.

The wine is available legally in Italy, where it can also be purchased on the Internet, Ms Wirtz said. Its sale is illegal in Germany, where products bearing images or slogans from the Nazi era are outlawed.

Still, Bavaria state said it was opening an investigation to see if any of the bottles had crossed the border.

Ms Zypries, in her letter to Italian Justice Minister Roberto Castelli, expressed hope that Italy would act as part of common European efforts to fight racism and xenophobia.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at September 7, 2003 12:12 AM
Comments

> Or is this a symptom of contempt for history and memory.

That seems to be the case. Unfortunately, those that do not learn from history are bound to repeat it. It sounds like an undue alarm, but being from there, I know my Pappenheimers and sorry to say, it looks to me that they are already on a slippery slope.

Posted by: alphasheep at September 7, 2003 12:54 AM

I believe the German government has already complained. Google news gives me this story. They've been around since 1997, apparently.

I don't see why the actions of one winemaker gets blown up into a broad condemnation of Europe. Well, on LGF I understand, but...

Posted by: dragoon at September 7, 2003 01:24 AM

I'm not condemning all of Europe. Nor would I condemn all of America if a Klan bottle were sold at K-mart. For all I know, no one buys this stuff.

Point is simply that it's creepy, not that every European is suddenly a Nazi.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 7, 2003 02:36 AM

Michael,

The example of the Hitler wine series is not reflective of Europeans or their norms of politics or taste. The vast majority of Europeans would find this highly offensive. You could probably find somewhere an equally offensive "aberration" in some obscure American product. Moreover, the wine label would likely be illegal in Germany and France, and perhaps thoughout the EU as a symbol of nazism.

Remember all of the stink that a lot of Americans made about the French judicial decision condemning the sale of Nazi paraphernalia on Yahoo. That decision stated:

"Whereas the exposition for the purpose of sale of Nazi objects constitutes a violation of French law (article R.645-2 of the Criminal Code) as well as an offence against the collective memory of a country profoundly wounded by the atrocities committed by and in the name of a the Nazi criminal enterprise against its citizens and most importantly against its citizens of the Jewish religion."

I realize the objections to the French court decision were based primarily on concerns about free speech, extra-territorial regulation of free speech in particular, and government regulation of the internet. The indignation however can work both ways.

Posted by: Gabriel Gonzalez at September 7, 2003 03:36 AM

Michael:

Perhaps this could be compared to the bazillions of Conferderate flags that fly EVERYWHERE in the U.S.? Tasteless doesn't make it wrong I guess.

Semper Fi

Posted by: RickM at September 7, 2003 04:05 AM

Michael,

You better watch out. The left-wing thought police won't be happy that you linked to LGF.

Posted by: HA at September 7, 2003 04:36 AM

I suppose what really matters is the popularity and acceptance of these wines, and those facts are unhelpfully left out of the news article I presented. Guess it's harder to do research on something like that than to just slap up a picture of a obviously calculatedly offensive object. I really wish more news actually gave the context of things.

This article says they claim to sell 30,000 bottles a year, and largely to tourists. I doubt Hitler's reached the kitsch level yet in Germany, so I suppose this is like if the Confederate flag was banned in the US and the South Will Rise Again people bought the merchandise down in Mexico. Not that the two compare in levels of evil, but that's what came to mind.

As for the "attacking Europe" comment, I was really wondering about the LGF reaction, although I suppose I shouldn't. I thought alphasheep's comment was a bit too much as well. The CNN article says there were attempts to stop the production in Italy as well.

PS The story's not from Google News per se, I just found it through it.

Posted by: dragoon at September 7, 2003 04:49 AM

I wonder if anticommunists are offended by the California wine label "Reds" from Laurel Glen winery in Sonoma, a quite decent "wine for the people" whose corks show the faces of Marx, Lenin, Mao, and maybe others. It's a lot more subtle than the Hitler label. Is that because California notalgia for communism is more subtle than Italian nostalgia for fascism? I doubt it.

Posted by: Joel at September 7, 2003 02:36 PM

Michael,

Your lead-off was "Why is 'Hitler' wine being sold in Europe?" (Emphasis added). Subsequently you said "I'm not condemning all of Europe," and I believe you. But you (following LGF's unsuprising example) have in your first response immediately generalized from a single Italian wine maker to Europe. So while you're not condeming all of Europe, you're unjustifiably associating an isolated instance of something repulisve with an entire continent.

It would be no less accurate to have posed the question:

"Why is 'Hitler' wine being sold in the West?"

Or even:

"Why is 'Hitler' wine being sold on Earth?"

The more insightful question--actually, questions--to ask, though more difficult because the answers are not as easy to guess at, is why this wine maker is making "Hitler" wines, and--most important of all--who's buying, and why. "Europe" is not making the wine, and "Europe" is not buying it. We're dealing with an isolated event, far less repulsive than many examples that might be found elsewhere. If you want to be concerned about neo-Nazidom, I suggest writing about genuine neo-Nazis.

Posted by: Christopher Luebcke at September 7, 2003 10:01 PM

Michael,

Your lead-off was "Why is 'Hitler' wine being sold in Europe?" (Emphasis added). Subsequently you said "I'm not condemning all of Europe," and I believe you. But you (following LGF's unsuprising example) have in your first response immediately generalized from a single Italian wine maker to Europe. So while you're not condeming all of Europe, you're unjustifiably associating an isolated instance of something repulisve with an entire continent.

It would be no less accurate to have posed the question:

"Why is 'Hitler' wine being sold in the West?"

Or even:

"Why is 'Hitler' wine being sold on Earth?"

The more insightful question--actually, questions--to ask, though more difficult because the answers are not as easy to guess at, is why this wine maker is making "Hitler" wines, and--most important of all--who's buying, and why. "Europe" is not making the wine, and "Europe" is not buying it. We're dealing with an isolated event, far less repulsive than many examples that might be found elsewhere. If you want to be concerned about neo-Nazidom, I suggest writing about genuine neo-Nazis.

Posted by: Christopher Luebcke at September 7, 2003 10:01 PM

Dang it, sorry for the double post, thought I didn't quite click the Post button the first time.

Posted by: Christopher Luebcke at September 7, 2003 10:02 PM

Christopher,

I see what you're getting at. But I should explain that I do increasingly think of Europe as one place since, with the rise of the EU, it is. To a point.

"Europe" is far more of an entity than "Asia" or "Africa" or "South America."

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 7, 2003 10:50 PM

Christopher,

The European goal is to become a single entitity. That is THEIR desire. Not Michael's or LGF's.

And this particular example is just one symbolic example of widespread European anti-Semitism.

How can you see the forest if you won't see the trees?

Posted by: HA at September 8, 2003 03:14 AM

Heh, just noticed the title of this post. I'm not sure exactly how it works in this context, but always appreciate a good Silence of the Lambs reference.

Posted by: George at September 8, 2003 06:02 AM

HA, Michael,

My objection was not so much about which level of organization this was generalized to (Europe, the West, Earth, Italy, whatever) as it was an objection to the generalization at all.

HA says that this "is just one symbolic example of widespread European anti-Semitism." Citing only single examples such as this, you could make an equally compelling case for widespread American anti-Semitism... or Canadian, or pretty much anywhere else. I think European anti-Semitism is worth talking about because it's scary as hell, but I don't find this a particularly compelling example of it--considering the extremely negative reaction within Europe, I don't think this story serves much of a purpose beyond providing additional fodder for people who are already convinced that Europe Is Bad.

Posted by: Christopher Luebcke at September 8, 2003 09:20 AM

Michael:

I wonder if the wine is of similar bad taste to the labels?

I cannot get excited about a mere 30,000 bottles of wine sold a year in Europe nor make any generalizations from it.

Posted by: tallan at September 8, 2003 06:57 PM

Could it be . . . is someone putting a picture in bad taste on some wine in order to generate publicity and sell more bottles?

Sacre bleu!

Posted by: Kimmitt at September 8, 2003 08:13 PM

Yes the fuss over this does seem a good example of US Europhobia. As I understand the US constitution, any attempt to ban the sale of this sort of product in the USA would be struck down as an attack on freedom of speech. That's why attempts by French and German courts to crack down on neonazi holocaust denial and nazi memorabilia websites have failed when it's discovered that they re hosted in the USA. Does this prove the US cares less about nazism and antisemitism than Europe? Get a life for gods sake.

Posted by: Stephen Marks at September 11, 2003 05:16 AM



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