Fascism -- sometimes it makes a comeback

A teacher was suspended for not preventing her students from expressing their opinion -- a very serious violation of freedom of speech and education in Salvini's Italy.

Cinzia Sciuto
Cinzia Sciuto MicroMega, Italy
Source: MicroMega
Fascism -- sometimes it makes a comeback - NewsMavens

Why this story matters:

In Palermo, on the occasion of Remembrance Day, high school students made a video in which they compared some historical facts dating back to the fascist and Nazi period with some provisions of the current Italian government.

This was enough to trigger a disciplinary measure against their teacher, who was suspended for 15 days for "lack of vigilance".

The story is almost grotesque, given that the retaliation against the teacher, the thesis put forth in the video is confirmed: fascism can return, perhaps in other forms, but we should never lower our guard. Otherwise "what is the Day of Remembrance for?", ask the students.

The controversy over whether or not fascism can make a come back is not recent. Typically, on the one hand there are those who claim that fascism is a definite historical phenomenon confined to a certain period, and that it therefore makes no sense to be concerned with the specter of fascism nowadays; on the other hand there are those who believe that fascism also represents a specific political phenomenon with specific characteristics that can always return, albeit in other forms, naturally.

The repression of dissent (during this electoral campaign several banners against Salvini have been removed by the police), intimidation (the teacher's punishment is obvious intimidation meant as a warning for all others), the spread of violence (racist and homophobic attacks multiply, without a vigorous government response), the loose use of power (closed ports, ships left at the mercy of the sea for hours, centers for migrants shut down without warning , the political and judicial pressure on the mayor of Riace Mimmo Lucano) are all "signals of 'classic' fascism, in its forms, in its slogans, in its manner of doing politics", writes historian Angelo d'Orsi in the article below.

Fortunately, signs of resistance are also multiplying. The story of the suspended professor sparked a great wave of solidarity, not only from the teachers. Mimmo Lucano was greeted by a crowd at the La Sapienza University of Rome, a crowd that also rejected an initiative from Casa Pound, a neo-fascist formation, to prevent Lucano from speaking. The balconies of Italian cities are adorned with posters against Salvini, often with remarkable irony. After a violent attack against a family, the legitimate beneficiary of public housing in a suburb of Rome (guilty only of being Roma), the locals mobilized to show their solidarity and reject the narrative that Italian suburbs are racist and right-wing.

These are all signs that there is cause to hope we have learned our lesson from history.

Details from the story:

  • On the occasion of Remembrance Day on January 27, students of the Vittorio Emanuele III Industrial Institute of Palermo, Sicily, created a video presentation in which various episodes from the Fascist and Nazi era were compared with recent events, in particular the 1938 racial laws, which were compared with the security decree of Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, which limits the rights of migrants and asylum seekers, among other provisions.
  • Someone reported it to the Ministry of Education, which in turn asked the school authorities to investigate the matter. The school found the teacher guilty of "a lack of vigilance" and suspended her for 15 days. The whole school -- both students and teachers -- showed their solidarity with the teacher, and a few days later the whole country followed.
  • Warning signs are multiplying, especially in these weeks of electoral campaigning. In several Italian cities the police have intervened to remove protest posters against Salvini, often humorous and not at all offensive. In response, the balcony protest spread and multiplied throughout the country with the hashtag #salvinirimuovianchequesti.
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