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Fascists' PR Plan? Distance from Associations with Jewish Genocide

“Everyone is sure they know what Fascism is,” wrote the historian Robert Paxton in his 2004 work The Anatomy of Fascism. I can vouch for that. Whenever I comment publicly on Fascism, my inbox and social media feeds populate with comments from people who repeat right-wing talking points and falsehoods about the regimes of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler for my edification.

This is the first of a series of posts in which I examine myths propagated by the global far right that seek to present Fascism in a positive light and minimize its atrocities. Some myths target extremists by presenting Fascist violence as justified; others seek to win over conservatives for far right politics by covering up or distorting Fascist violence. All of them rewrite history. In the information warfare age, control of the narrative is everything.

Fascism is inextricably linked for many people with its endpoint of genocide, which is why extremists have sought for many decades to cleanse its memory by perpetuating the Big Lie of Holocaust denial.

Countries with far-right governments needing to dissociate themselves from collaboration with genocide, such as Poland, have passed laws to try and silence this history of enabling Nazi extermination. The 2018 assertion by Polish lawmaker Kornel Morawiecki (father of Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki) that Jews entered the Warsaw Ghetto voluntarily to get away from their Christian neighbors (thus erasing Polish police assistance in maintaining these zones of confinement) is a new classic of the genre.

In Italy, where the 1938 anti-Semitic laws opened a window that culminated in the deportation of Italian Jews to Nazi death camps during World War Two, neo-Fascists and their allies have sought to distance themselves from the specific anti-Semitic policies of Il Duce to more easily rehabilitate the rest of his Fascist agenda and legacy.

Silvio Berlusconi, who was the first European leader since 1945 to include neo-Fascists in government (in 1994, 2001-2006, 2008-2011), has worked hard to cement this narrative. "The racial laws were the worst fault of Mussolini as a leader, who in so many other ways did well," Berlusconi said in 2013 on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Read entire article at Substack