(Disclosure: A slightly different version of this post appears on a private social media page.)
An Italian newspaper, Il Giornale, (The Journal) is encouraging readers to study Mein Kampf by Adolph Hitler, supposedly to prevent history from repeating itself. A link to an online TIME article about the controversy appears at the end of this post.
Many years ago, I read an article in The New York Review Of Books about an effort to revive Fascism in Italy. A political movement called La Forza (The Force) was popular with people born after WWII, who had no memory of what happened in their country during the war.
According to the article, schools in Italy had sanitized WWII history instruction, so any Italian student who neglected to do the right research risked having an unrealistic concept of Fascism. A student may have read about how Mussolini made the trains run on time, and on the surface that can appeal to anyone disgusted with an inefficient commute.
Please note that the newspaper publisher who is encouraging readers to study Mein Kampf has a reputation for being very “conservative.” In this case, the word is probably used as a euphemism — the way Donald Trump is sometimes referred to as conservative.
The timing of this media promotion is especially disturbing. In the U.S., we’re in danger of having a Fascist-leaning, rage-motivated President sworn into office next January. Read whatever you want into that.
Potentially, a newspaper publisher is in a position to educate the public, but the TIME article doesn’t say whether Il Giornale has enlightened readers on the horror in their own country’s history (people will need that background in order to put Hitler’s writings into context). I’m trying to resist making a quick assumption.
Mein Kampf has impressed ignorant people the wrong way. It has a cult-like following all over the world, not just in Germany. People who are protesting this book distribution are right to be worried.