Despite some imaginative suggestions to my “What’s wrong here?” teaser, no one correctly identified the odd thing out.
It was of course the PlayMobil Spirit of Fascism, lurking around the National Alliance election posters. The National Alliance, as I explained previously, are post-fascists, not to be confused with neo-fascists, pro-fascists or the ex-fascists that founded the party after world war two.
Think I’m making this stuff up?
Last month, after scoring a goal, Lazio football club captain, Paolo di Canio flashed an unmistakable fascist salute to his adoring fans. They responded with cheers. Di Canio tried to shrug off the gesture, stating that it had no political significance. This from a man who has “Dux”, a reference to fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, tattooed on his arm. As a youth, Di Canio ran with an extreme right-wing fan group and in his autobiography, he states that he was “fascinated” by Il Duce, claiming that he was “basically a very principled, ethical individual” who was “deeply misunderstood”.
Alessandra Mussolini, the granddaughter of Benito Mussolini and herself the founder of a far-right party and a Member of the European Parliament, attended the match and applauded loudly. “What a delightful Roman salute!” she exclaimed. “I was deeply moved. I will write him a thank-you note.” Lazio was, after all, her grandfather’s beloved soccer club and he often attended their games. Even now — 60 years later — the team maintains something of a fascist aura.
Alessandra Mussolini quit the National Alliance (AN) in 2003 to found her own party, “Freedom for Action”, disgusted by AN leader Gianfranco Fini’s apology to Israel for the treatment of Jews under fascism in Italy. Just in case you might think that, compared to the lunatic fringe of Italian politics, Fini & Co are not all that bad, note that Francesco Storace, National Alliance member, currently contesting the Presidency of Lazio Region, came out in support of Mussolini, asserting that Fini’s comments in Israel were akin to the Pope addressing his followers and announcing that there is no God. Storace is estimated to be spending â‚¬5 million on the current campaign, which might explain why all the election posters that I described previously belong to Storace’s group.