March 17, 2009

Operation Red Nose

Correspondent Mark Anquoe alerts us to a stereotypical social campaign going on in Italy:Hello Everyone,

Alessandro has been a valuable ally in circulating our struggle in Italy. Can we all take a moment to address this concern? The Italian Government, Minister of Youth and Institute of Health, has a campaign of reducing the consumption of drugs and alcohols in nightclubs--using the racially exaggerated and distorted image of a Native American chief for its logo!

This is a horrible cartoon/caricature of our people. In addition to sending an email of disapproval of this logo with this campaign, can we approach the International Treaty Council regarding this?

Corine Fairbanks

--- On Fri, 3/6/09, wrote:

Hi Corine, I want to send the alert about the use, once again, of distorted images of American Indians. This time it is a campaign promoted by Italian Government, Minister of Youth and Institute of Health, addressed to both public and private operators to achieve a total strategy of prevention and risk reduction related to recreational consumption of drug and alcohol in nightclubs. The campaign, entitled "Red nose operation," is represented by the picture of an Indian with his arms crossed and, in line with the name, a big red nose. Please see

Operazione Rosso Naso

For this campaign, the minister Meloni was inspired by a Canadian campaign

Red Nose Operation

Here are the most important parts of my letter that I sent to the Minister (translated in English for you by my Italian friend Stefania):

"The misuse of this stereotype, giving a false, distorted image of this people, kills their culture and dignity and above all it's a shame that a campaign against drug and alcohol is associated to Indians, because this let people think a close relation exists between them. The Minister of Youth should explain why she decided to include American Indians within an initiative that not only make them ridiculous because of that absurd picture, but it perpetuates the racist association of people addicted to alcohol as well! Mrs. Meloni, although you are the youngest minister in the story of Italian republic, only 31 at the time of your election, you should at least know that Native Americans are men, women and children still living in big troubles and, despite the fact they have been strongly bordered in the past or in these type(s) of performance, they are still fighting in order to preserve and protect their culture for their future generations. Minister, your campaign is aimed at young people with suggestions for reducing the use of alcohol and drugs but you are also giving an insulting message for all Native Americans, their children and families.

No, we don't agree at all and we dissociate from this unfortunate idea. Now we would like to propose some considerations: while thinking to young Italians, think even to young Indians who in American schools are struggling to eliminate mascots, logos and pictures abusing their people. Consider that many of them return at home to their families ashamed of being Indians because another culture makes a mockery of them. Imagine how they must be happy knowing that thanks to your engagement, young Italians will make treasure of this worthy John Wayne-show better than they did before, given the absolute indifference and ignorance we feel for this people. Augh dear minister, do you expect young Natives to thank you, do you? We are sure they will not, and being clear, we don't either.

We feel discouraged by the fact that a representative of our government might be so insensitive even if we are accustomed to the stupid, repetitive campaigns representing this kind of Indians! But we don't accept that a minister of our government might support it! Surely the idea that this people do not exist, that they are invisible, that one can do free-talking on them must be really enormous! We don't expect your apologies although for men, women and children so far away from you and our world, it could be necessary and important, after the damage you have done representing them like this.

Publicly and in democratic way, we let more sensible Italians make you understand your mistake by writing gently their point of view. Don't be surprised at emails arriving from overseas because we'll take care of informing Native Americans how they are viewed by our representatives, in the hope that they might teach you a greater respect for them. We don't know whether you'll read this mail or others arriving, but we hope you will take charge of this and talk publicly to your citizens. However we trust you will answer.

Alessandro Profeti, Nativi

The Minister has responded and apologized, she write(s) that it was not his intention to involve American Indians with the use of alcohol and drugs, and that the logo with the "Indian Chief" was an attempt to represent a good "Indian chief," although angry, that protect and back at home the Italian youngs. She wrote that he had tried the new images, which could strike the imagination of young Italians: if this is the result of having tried new images, we can can read the opinion by my readers in the comments to the article in my Blog with the "Translator" plugin in the page of my Blog.

Alessandro Profeti, Italy
Comment:  This chief is a "red" Indian with red warpaint, a red headdress, and a red nose. If he has a name, I'm betting it's Chief Red Nose.

To sum it up, Canada has an anti-drinking campaign that uses a red-nosed reindeer. Italian minister Meloni thought that was a good idea but decided it would work even better with a red-nosed Indian. Apparently she thought the scary-drunk chief would coax more people into sobriety than a happy-go-lucky critter.

Besides the alcohol connection, this chief looks mean and is about 150 years out of date. In short, it's a pure stereotype and a bad idea.

By the way, Mark and Corine are involved in the battle against the Carpinteria Warriors. Corine was an early supporter of PEACE PARTY--a decade before everyone else.

For more Native stereotypes, see the Stereotype of the Month contest.

P.S. I made minor corrections to these e-mails, but I didn't try to fix the slightly fractured English.

Below:  "Chief Red Nose say you no drink'um!"


Alessandro Profeti said...

Thanks for this post. We are working to stop this campaign...
Please write to the Italian Minister for Youth, Ms. Giorgia Meloni, your opinions to the email address
Alessandro Profeti, Italy
Nativi, italian Blog on support Native American People

Rob said...

You're welcome. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.