Messitte publishes opinion piece on Italy’s fascist past

An opinion piece by President Zach Messitte was published Monday, April 29, in The Washington Post.

In “As nationalism surges, Italy must reckon with its fascist past: Italians celebrate their resistance to fascism, but have yet to fully understand their support for it,” Messitte writes: “As nationalism resurges around the world, and in Italy, Il Duce’s ignominious end and Italians’ understanding of their country’s role in World War II have gained renewed importance. Since 1945, Italians have grappled with how to remember their nation’s role in the war and, in particular, how to include the millions of their fellow countrymen who supported Mussolini in their commemoration of the era.

“These questions of historical memory and political legitimacy are increasingly important because societies with authoritarian-leaning leaders could soon be called upon again to choose whether to act in honorable duty to their nation or in righteous defiance against an unjust government.”

Messitte outlines the history of the country’s division between fascist and anti-fascist supporters and concludes, “While Italy rightly celebrates those who stood against fascism during the war, it must also do the hard work of understanding the hundreds of thousands of Italians who did not, lest the cult of Mussolini return to the nation.”

Messitte is on sabbatical during the spring semester and is living in Italy to research a book about Americans playing basketball in the Italian professional league.


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