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by Milena Di Nenno
98 were the abstentions in the Italian Parliament for the vote on the motion to establish a commission against hate, racism, and antisemitism.
200 is the average antisemitic and hateful messages that who proposed this commission receives daily.
2 are the body guards who have been assigned to protect this person.
She is Liliana Segre, an Italian 89-year-old senator for life and survivor of the Holocaust. She was deported to Auschwitz in 1943, at the age of 13, not because she was Italian, but because she was Jewish.
From the outside, these numbers might be only partially significant, yet they summarize the last 75 years of Italian history. As soon as the Italian people realized the cruel betrayal of the Italian Jews, who even supported the Fascist regime at the beginning, antisemitisim seemed to disappear from discussions. However, there is a sentiment that was kept alive underneath the surface; it is the “Mussolini ha fatto anche cose buone” – Mussolini did also good things – belief, that some Italians continue to advocate for. Were the good things more relevant than the bad things? Were these enough to forget about all the remaining cruelties?
Unfortunately, the answer seems to be yes. Otherwise, we would not be in this situation in which some question the legitimacy of Liliana Segre as senator for life. “What did she do to get a senator salary financed by the Italians?”- one of the many hate messages she received spells. She was a witness of the horrifying violation of human rights carried out by the Fascist regime, but still this is probably not as good as Mussolini’s “cose buone.”
All of this is likely to be the result of Italian political class’s weakness, or unwillingness. It is the result of continuous political bargaining that usually is left with no solution and then forgotten, in the same way Fascist cruelty seems to have been.
We have evidence of it even for what concerns the most obvious issue after the end of WWII: the damnatio memoriae of Fascism was never put into place.
Italian far-right movements will continue to consider themselves legitimized, if this is the approach of the political cast.
Those 98 abstentions are not just another one of the numerous failures of Italian politicians to reach agreements. These abstentions symbolize a strong indifference, driven by some sort of denialism, towards problems that belong to the past, but are not past.
• To what extend is second-hand guilt a strong emotion in contemporary societies?
• How important is second-hand guilt for the political decision-making process?
• Would a damnatio memoriaeof Fascism be necessary?
⁃ Fascism as ‘heritage’ in contemporary Italy” by Joshua Arthurs https://www.academia.edu/435790/Fascism_as_Heritage_in_Contemporary_Italy