Mussolini, Trump on ‘making America great’

Trump and Mussolini, cartoon

This cartoon, by Paresh Nath in The Khaleej Times, in the UAE, compares United States presidential candidate Donald Trump to Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

From British daily The Independent, 28 February 2016:

Mr Trump was also asked on Sunday why he had retweeted a quote from the Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini. The tweet, initially posted by another user, read: “It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.”

Asked about whether he had known the quote belonged to Mussolini and whether he wanted to be associated with fascism, Mr Trump told NBC’s Meet the Press: “Mussolini was Mussolini. It’s a very good quote, it’s a very interesting quote. I know who said it, but what difference does it make whether it’s Mussolini or somebody else?”

The central slogan of Donald Trump, and now also of his Republican party, is Make America Great Again. Mr Trump has stressed that slogan repeatedly, including on Fox News.

Is the slogan really original? Or not completely original, like Ms Trump’s speech promoting her husband at the Republican convention in Cleveland, owed something, unattributedly, to a speech by First Lady Michelle Obama?

From the Washington Post in the USA:

In 1927, Fox News Service filmed Benito Mussolini telling immigrants to ‘make America great’

By Philip Bump July 23 at 11:00 AM …

Fox News wasn’t the only group to recognize the value of the combination of sight and sound. Benito Mussolini, the fascist prime minister of Italy, at one point reportedly said that were he to broadcasting his speeches “in twenty cities in Italy once a week” he would “need no other power.” When he was approached about filming a statement for the newsreel, he agreed.

Fox promoted the upcoming statement in advertisements in the New York Times in September 1927, with the debut of the speech coming to New York City’s Times Square theater later that month.

Fox News Mussolini advertisement

… This was that statement.

Mussolini’s accent was heavy, and it’s hard to pick out everything he said. But the thrust was that he was offering praise for the United States and for the Italian immigrants that were helping to build it. He praised the citizens of Italy who were working to make America great.

Italian fascists attack refugees

This video is called Mussolini Italy’s Nightmare.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Racial tensions in Rome: ‘Long live Il Duce’ chants as locals attack immigrant centre with rocks and petrol bombs

Residents in the Tor Sapienza district blame the African and Bengali refugees inside for the ‘insupportable’ levels of street crime in the area

Michael Day

Rome, Wednesday 12 November 2014

Racial tensions have exploded in Rome’s suburbs after locals chanting pro-Mussolini slogans attacked an immigrant holding centre. Police responded with baton charges and tear gas.

Were all of these violent racists really ‘local’? Were some of them not organized fascists, bused in or shipped in from elsewhere in Rome, or in Italy?

UPDATE: Indeed, Italian media have confirmed that. See also here.

Locals are calling for the building in the Tor Sapienza district to be closed after blaming the migrants it houses for “insupportable” levels of street crime in the area.

But the nastier side of the protests were apparent on Tuesday night with hundreds of people chanting: “The blacks have to go,” and dozens more shouting: “Long live Il Duce (Mussolini)”.

The violence in Tor Sapienza began simmering on Monday night with hooded men throwing stones at the Sorriso reception centre in Viale Giorgio Morandi. On Tuesday night the situation escalated dramatically. At around 10pm around 50 people, at the head of a 250-strong crowd, attacked the centre with rocks and petrol bombs. At least 14 people, including four policemen, were injured in the clashes that saw cars and rubbish bins set alight and used as barricades. …

The 36 African and Bengali refugees inside pleaded with police to be led away to safety, according to Corriere Della Sera newspaper. A few hours earlier one of the refugees was attacked in the street.

The ugly developments are the latest sign of a wave of anti-immigration sentiment sweeping Italy, with populist political leaders appearing to profit from, even encourage it. Matteo Salvini, head of the xenophobic Northern League, has seen his ratings rise after appearing in a T-shirt bearing the phrase: “Stop Invasion”.

Mr Salvini said: “Tor Sapienza represents the failure of the state, caused by the stupid politics of that part of the left that allows everyone to do anything they like.”

Even ex-comic Beppe Grillo, who leads the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, appears to have stepped up the anti-immigration rhetoric.

Mr Grillo is the partner of the British UKIP party in the European parliament.

According to some reports, the protests were encouraged by local drug dealers who are unhappy at the high level of policing in the area as a result of the migrant centre.

The violence at Tor Sapienza is the latest in a series of racially-motivated confrontations in the capital in the past few months. In September there were several clashes between refugees and locals in the Corcolle district.

Fascist becomes Sunderland football manager

Paolo Di Canio makes fascist salute

From CBC in Canada:

Paolo Di Canio signs deal to become Sunderland manager

Contract to replace fired Martin O’Neill is for 2.5 years

The Associated Press

Posted: Mar 31, 2013 5:34 PM ET

Last Updated: Mar 31, 2013 6:48 PM ET

Sunderland took a gamble by hiring Paolo Di Canio as its new manager on Sunday, empowering the inexperienced and outspoken Italian with the tough task of ensuring the relegation-threatened team retains its Premier League status.

The appointment came a day after Martin O’Neill was fired following a poor run of results and sparked immediate controversy, with former British politician David Miliband resigning from his positions as vice chairman and non-executive director of the club because of Di Canio’s openly fascist leanings.

Di Canio had a colorful playing career in the top divisions of Italy, England and Celtic, marked by sublime goals and headline-grabbing antics — notably when he pushed a referee to the ground after being sent off while playing for Sheffield Wednesday in 1996.

Then there was the straight-arm salute — adopted by the Italian Fascist regime in the early 20th century — that he performed in front of the fans of his Lazio team in 2005, earning him a ban, a fine and condemnation by FIFA.

“I am a fascist, not a racist,” Di Canio said at the time, and he has praised Mussolini in his autobiography, calling the former Italian leader as “basically a very principled, ethical individual” who was “deeply misunderstood.”

Di Canio has limited managerial experience, with his only previous job ending at third-tier English club Swindon last month after a turbulent 1 1/2 years in charge. It is a big call by Sunderland owner Ellis Short at this stage of the season. …

[David] Miliband, who contested the leadership in 2010 of the Labour party in Britain, stood down within minutes of the 44-year-old Di Canio’s appointment.

“I wish Sunderland AFC all success in the future,” Miliband wrote on his website. “It is a great institution that does a huge amount for the North East and I wish the team very well over the next vital seven games. However, in the light of the new manager’s past political statements, I think it right to step down.”

So David Miliband, rightly so, does not want to work now with a self-styled fascist. I wish he would have thought like that earlier, when he was still British Foreign Secretary and sent people to dictatorship’s dungeons to be tortured.

Dictator Mussolini’s secret bunker discovered

From Smart News blog:

March 25, 2013 2:15 pm

Italian Dictator Mussolini’s Secret Bunker Unearthed

Mussolini and Hitler in Munich in 1940

Mussolini and Hitler in Munich in 1940. Photo: National Archives

From 1922 to 1943, when Allied troops took Sicily nearing the end of World War II and his power began to wane, Benito Mussolini ruled Italy as its fascist dictator. As Italy suffered defeats throughout the war and as the Allied forces pushed ever closer, Mussolini became increasingly paranoid, says The Telegraph, fearing that the Royal Air Force, “was planning to launch an audacious raid on his headquarters in an attempt to kill him and knock Italy out of the war.”

His fears were well founded – the RAF had indeed drawn up a plan to launch a bombing raid on the palazzo, as well as his private residence in Rome, Villa Torlonia, using the 617 Squadron of Dambusters fame.

In response to the encroaching forces, Mussolini set about constructing a series of fortified bunkers. One such bunker, buried beneath Mussolini’s headquarters in Rome, was discovered recently during maintenance. The bunker will soon be opened to the public.

The bunker was discovered three years ago when engineers carrying out structural work on the foundations of Palazzo Venezia noticed a small wooden trap door.

It opened out to a narrow flight of brick stairs which in turn led to the bunker, divided into nine rooms by thick concrete walls.

The structure was so deep that it had exposed some Roman remains, which are still visible today.

This is not the first of Mussolini’s bunkers discovered, says Yahoo! News, but rather the twelfth. The building it is buried beneath, the Palazzo Venezie, “currently houses a national museum and has been a historically significant structure for centuries, having been used by high ranking members of the Roman Catholic Church and other important figures over the years.”

The bunker was first discovered in 2011, says La Stampa, “but has only been revealed now.”

Mussolini’s MP granddaughter causes outrage after being caught signing pictures of the dictator: here.

Arguably Rossellini’s masterpiece, Rome Open City is a poignant reflection upon the atrocity of the fascist regime in Italy during WWII: here.

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Berlusconi praises dictator Mussolini

This video is called Berlusconi defends Mussolini’s alliance with Hitler.

By Marianne Arens:

Former Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi praises Mussolini

8 February 2013

Italy’s former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, used the occasion of Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 27, to praise the fascist “Duce” Benito Mussolini. Mussolini had “done a great deal of good”, notwithstanding the racial laws that were “his worst mistake”, Berlusconi said.

Italian responsibility for the Shoah was “not comparable to that of Germany”, Berlusconi continued. It had been “difficult” for Mussolini, who acted under pressure from Hitler. Italians had merely tolerated Nazi racial policy and were “not really aware of it at the beginning”, he said.

Italy’s political leaders immediately sought to play down the significance of Berlusconi’s statements, describing the provocations of the 76-year-old multi-billionaire as a “minor offense”.

Mario Monti, the outgoing prime minister, remarked tersely that Berlusconi had used an “unfortunate phrase on the wrong day and in the wrong place”. Just prior to his comments, the Ansa news agency reported that Monti did not rule out collaboration with Berlusconi’s party, PdL (People of Freedom), following parliamentary elections on February 24, on condition that Berlusconi did not take up a leading post in the new administration.

The Christian Democrat Pierferdinando Casini (UDC) declared that Berlusconi had “spoken nonsense”. Politicians aligned with the country’s so-called “left” also made just brief comments on the incident and were quick to move on.

Pier Luigi Bersani, the leader of the Democrats and leading candidate for the post of prime minister, complained that Berlusconi had made the “Day of Remembrance” a “day of election campaign maneuver”. The regional president of Puglia, Nichi Vendola (Left, Ecology and Freedom, SEL), described Berlusconi as a “falsifier, who would be advised to keep silent”.

Berlusconi expressed his comments on fascism during the official inauguration ceremony of a Holocaust memorial on “Platform 21” of the Milan Central Station. The memorial has been erected around the hidden railway tunnel originally used by the fascists to conduct deportations.

From 1943 to 1945, thousands of Italian Jews were deported from this point to extermination camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen, and the Italian camps of Bolzano and Fossoli. A total of around 8,600 Jews were deported from Italy to the death camps.

Contrary to Berlusconi’s remarks, anti-Semitism was not merely imposed on Italian fascism externally by Hitler and Nazi Germany—the persecution of the Jews was entirely in line with Italian fascism and Mussolini’s own racist ideology. Jews were socially isolated and dispossessed; they were banned from attending state schools in Italy, heading a business, carrying out an official function, and could not marry Italians.

In order to create a new “Roman Empire” around the Mediterranean Sea the Italian fascists occupied North Africa and parts of Yugoslavia, classifying Africans, Slavs and Jews as “subhuman” and discriminating against them. The defense of a “pure Italian race” was used, especially in Abyssinia and Libya, to justify massacres and genocide.

As historian Carlo Moos demonstrates, racial laws against the Jews were first introduced in Italy in 1938 in accordance with the racial policies of the Third Reich. At the same time they corresponded to “a long-existing, general-fascist racial concept” (Moos, Carlo: Late Italian Fascism and the Jews, 2008).

Berlusconi, who is facing a series of criminal charges for business and sex crimes, is deliberately turning towards the extreme right in his election campaign.

One of his candidates for the Senate is Mussolini’s granddaughter, Alessandra Mussolini. Berlusconi’s party, the PdL, has not only allied itself with its long-time former partner, the racist Northern League, but also with ultra-right-wing parties such as the neo-fascist La Destra, led by Francesco Storace. The ranks of La Destra include Giuliana De Medici, stepdaughter of the fascist leader and founder of the neo-fascist Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI), Giorgio Almirante (1914-1988).

Berlusconi has continually relied on the fascists in the course of his political career. In 1994 he drew the MSI into government for the first time since the overthrow of the fascist dictatorship. The MSI at that time openly professed its adherence to Mussolini. The party later changed its name to National Alliance (NA) and joined Berlusconi’s supporters to form the PdL. Former MSI leader Gianfranco Fini is currently backing the electoral list headed by Mario Monti.

Following Berlusconi’s resignation in November 2011 as head of government, his PdL party fully backed the austerity measures of the Monti government for a year in parliament. Berlusconi is now trying to divert increasing social anger into right-wing channels. While all other parties, including alleged “leftist” organizations, advocate the continuation of Monti’s austerity measures and support for the European Union, Berlusconi is conducting a populist nationalist campaign, blaming the European Union and the German government for the social decline of Italy. …

In this context Berlusconi’s allegation that Mussolini had done “much good” assumes menacing dimensions. Mussolini smashed the organized labor movement, destroyed its social gains and democratic rights, and went on to conduct brutal colonial wars in Libya and Abyssinia. …

Across Europe bourgeois politicians are forming alliances with racist, ultra-nationalist and fascist parties. Such parties have been playing an important role for some time in political life in Hungary, Greece, France and Austria. Against a background of increasing social tensions they are needed by the ruling class as a battering ram against the working class.