The summer of anonymous benaltrists

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This article is published in Vanity Fair issue 28-29 on newsstands until July 20, 2021

Summer 2021 will be remembered not for the scorching heat but for the peaks reached by Italian benaltrism. Benaltrismo is a word that Treccani traces back to 2010, and defines it as «Tendency to denounce the inadequacy of the solutions adopted to solve a problem». Benaltrism is a variant of the more classic whataboutism because of every topic raised he will ask: so this, and that? But it seems like a technique invented much earlier.

According to chess champion Garry Kasparov, it was a rhetorical technique created by the Russians during the Cold War, so when they were accused of something they were ready: so what about the extermination of the Native Americans? What about slavery in the South? And so on. Certainly it is a political technique that has flourished in the West and today knows its golden age in Italy: first the catchphrase of the national football team that does not want to kneel (indeed maybe yes, but does not want to be forced, and in the end it will do so if others do) because there are other ways to fight racism. Then, the accusation to the left that dealing with civil rights is a deleterious waste of time (there is much more, there is the lack of work, the crisis, etc.). Finally, descendants from this, the tiring events of the Zan Bill for which – it is one of the theories of the opponents – it is not by instituting new penalties that homophobia is corrected. There is much more to do. In short, all benaltrists (the benaltrists 2021, however, are mysterious, and this very other thing they do to fight racism and homophobia they never want to make known: they are anonymous benaltrists, obviously).

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