He’s a successful celebrity chef and restaurateur with a commercial product empire marketing everything from pasta sauces to cookware, but now, famed gourmand Mario Batali is serving up what some might consider a less palatable dish: his political views. During an appearance at Time magazine’s ‘Person of the Year’ debate, Batali announced to the world that bankers are as evil as Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin. And although an opportunity presented itself during the debate to retract his comments, Batali refrained from doing so.
The following is what Batali said, according to Time’s transcript:
I would have to say that who has had the largest effect on the whole planet without us really paying attention across the board and everywhere is the entire banking industry and their disregard for the people that are supposed to be working for them….So the ways the bankers have kind of toppled the way money is distributed and taken most of it into their hands is as good as Stalin or Hitler and the evil guys…[T]heir evil has had a huge effect on the world.
After the debate concluded, Forbes writer Jeff Bercovici asked Batali to elaborate on how he draws moral equivalence between bankers and, in Bercovici’s words, “tyrants who slaughtered millions and reduced Europe to rubble.”
“Oh, that was just a metaphor,” Batali said.
But, offered the opportunity to back down from his pronouncement, he stood firm. “The way people change lives, I do think bankers change lives as much as a repressive [inaudible] autocrat. But, that said, it was more direct.” (“It” presumably meaning the Hitler/Stalin form of evil.)
You might think a person who equates corporate malfeasance with the greatest mass acts of mass murder in history would be a big supporter of the Occupy Wall Street protest. In fact, Batali’s down on OWS, too. “It’s kind of a part-time job,” he said. “Those guys in Zucotti Park, they’re kind of just sitting around. It’s a very 2011 rebellion.”
To read Bercovici’s full report click here.
Of the Occupy movement, Batali went on to say, “I’m a supporter of anyone that’s thinking about trying to manifest change.”
“Them not having a real strategy doesn’t make them bad. It just makes them not effective. They’re certainly making people think about it, but a smart, real revolution starts with an ideology base.”
Does this change the way you view Batali? Can Batali be “against” bankers and not necessarily condemn the capitalism that has arguably helped launch him to greatness?